Rather than defining Missouri music and art by category, event or venue, a few insiders suggested places to explore. None of their suggestions are in traditional tourist hot spots. But they are places people can go for an interesting Missouri experience.
Royce Kallerud on Kirksville and more
Kirksville Rocks is a networking site for people who want to know about bands playing there. Royce Kallerud, an English Professor at Truman State University, is the face behind the site kvrocks.com.
To get a taste of the small-town indie rock, Kallerud suggests trying the upstairs portion of the Dukum Upp Inn in Kirksville. The age of patrons ranges from 16 to 60. And because of its location, students and faculty from Truman State sometimes attend the same shows.
“It’s intimate....there’s a lot of rapport between the musicians and fans. People are excited to see live musicians,” Kallerud said.
Kallerud said Kirksville bands such as Please Please Please, Left Hand Black, Deadwood and Jonny Numbercruncher and His Moist-Eyed Mothers are regulars at the DuKum Upp. Bands from around Missouri, including Ellie Come Home, The Foundry Field Recordings, So Many Dynamos, and Witch’s Hat, have also played there.
Tom Thumb Arts Festival
As for art, you haven’t really seen how quirky art shows in Missouri can become until you’ve attended the annual Tom Thumb arts festival which is also held in Kirksville. “If you’re adventurous, it’s a taste of what the Kirksville community is like,” he said.
The show consists of Missouri-only artists and is unpredictable in nature. Last year’s festival included a wedding, a pie-eating contest and improvisational comedy. Locals refer to it as a “floating gallery” because it changes locations every year. This past April, it was held at the Kirksville Arts Association building.
Although the date for next year’s festival has not been determined, kvrocks.com/events is a good source for information.
— Esther Cho
Round Barn Blues Shows
Blues festivals exist in many towns across America, but the Round Barn Blues Shows just outside Kirksville adds an interesting touch to the series of blues performances it hosts.
The Round Barn was once occupied with livestock and hay and now features live Blues performances from local, national, and international talent as part of the Round Barn Blues shows. The Round Barn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. It was originally built in 1913 and is one of the few round barns standing in Missouri.
There will be another Round Barn Blues Festival on September 22. It will feature national, regional and local acts, said Dan Vogt, owner of the Round Barn since 1999, though he does not know what the lineup will be yet.
Kallerud said the festivals are unique because this is the only place to see blues music in a fascinating architectural structure such as the Round Barn.
Vogt also owns the Wood Nickel Restaurant in Kirksville. For information on tickets or the upcoming festival, call (660) 341-7839. For more information go to roundbarnblues.com.
Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival
Though Kallerud said he is no expert on the bluegrass festival circuit, he said the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival is an experience for everyone. “It’s the kind of thing, no matter where someone comes from, they would enjoy themselves,” he said.
With four generations of bluegrass music under their belts, the Vincent family sponsors and operates the Sally Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Queen City.
Rhonda Vincent, a Missouri native and a nationally recognized bluegrass musician, plays every year with other family members. Aside from the performance lineup, Johnny Vincent, Rhonda Vincent’s father, said the festival also holds workshops where professional musicians offer advice on writing music, such as “how to get better licks.” The festival will be held July 4-8.
For more information go to nemr.net/~rhondav/.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
You haven’t experienced how Missouri can celebrate its seasons until you’ve gone to a Baker Creek Heirloom Festival. Here, gardening and music come together for spring and summer celebrations. Started by a seed company in Mansfield, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company brings together seed and gardening enthusiasts, and an array of western, folk, country, gospel, and bluegrass musicians. The Heritage Days events are held the first Sunday of every month from April to December.
According to Myrna Stark, a staff member at Baker Creek, the Heirloom Garden Show will be on Aug. 5 and 6 and includes award-winning country artist Wayne Horsburgh as a headliner. For the Heritage Days celebration, entertainers such as cowboy and easy-listening musician Paul Asher, Branson folk entertainers Ezra & Dilly and Swiss yodeler Fanny Y, are among the headliners.
Festivals include other activities such as special speakers on gardening and contests on produce based on characteristics such as size and taste.
Admission is $3 at the Spring Planting Festival and $2 for the Heirloom Garden and Heritage Days; all admission is paid at the event. For more information, go to rareseeds.com/shows.
Lucille Salerno on ragtime music
Lucille Salerno is the project director for continuing education at MU, but she is also the founder of The “Blind” Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.
You haven’t experienced “Missouri’s indigenous music,” as Lucille Salerno calls it, until you’ve heard ragtime. ragtime was the first genre of music we can really call American and its roots are in Missouri, she said.
Back-to-back Ragtime Festivals
Sedalia will host The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival May 30-June 3. The festival will include concerts at the Liberty Center Theater on Fifth Street and many free outdoor venues.
Immediately following the Joplin festival, there is The Original “Blind” Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.
The festival will be held at the Missouri Theatre in Columbia June 3-5.
Salerno said the festival in Sedalia is a little more traditional because that’s where Scott Joplin came to fame; he created “classic ragtime and introduced formal structure to his style of ragtime compositions,” she said. “This kind of ragtime is called classic to distinguish it from ‘folk ragtime.’
The festival in Columbia honors ‘Blind’ Boone and the music of his lifetime, 1864-1927. The music runs the gamut from folk and classic ragtime to stride and early jazz,” she said.
After the scheduled events, there’s also an evening jam session downtown in the basement of The Regency Hotel.
For information on “The Scott Joplin Festival” go to scottjoplin.org or call 660-826-2271.
For information about the The Original “Blind” Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival go to blindboone.missouri.org Tickets for the Boone Festival are available at the Missouri Theatre, 875-0600 or online at motheatre.org/tickets. For information about the afterglow jam session call 445-2539.
Kevin Walsh on local off-the-beaten path venues Kevin Walsh owns Kevin’s World in Columbia, which is not just a record shop, but a place where people can hang out to network or just talk about music.
To Walsh, “(Missouri musicians) make their own music, (and) they don’t like to do covers.”
Walsh said there’s a “confluence of musical influences” from nearby states, such as Alabama and Tennessee, in Missouri music. Historically, he thinks this formation began as cultures developed along the Mississippi River.
Thespian Hall in Boonville
Thespian Hall is the oldest theater still in use west of the Alleghenies, according to its Web site. The theater hosts festivals such as the Festival of the Arts, which includes symphony, ballet, vocal, jazz and Big Band acts. It also hosts the annual Big Muddy Folk Festival.
The town of Lupus has a population of 30, but certainly doesn’t have a shortage of creativity. For one, there’s the annual Chili Festival held every year in October, which includes plenty of chili, homemade pie and music. There is also the Lupus Store. Meredith Ludwig, friend of the owner Doug Elley, said it’s a singer- songwriter venue, meaning, most people who perform there sing their own original music and are not accompanied by a band. “It’s more of a listening room. It’s not like a bar background where people are talking,” she said.
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She describes the store as authentic and old, and said originally it was a general store. About four years ago, she said it was converted into a music venue.
For information on upcoming performances, go to comomusic.com/venues.php or call 660-849-2217.
Cooper’s Landing is a campground on the Missouri River with restaurants and live entertainment. Walsh describes the landing as organic and homemade. It opened in 1986 as Providence Bend Bait and Tackle, but now serves a whole new kind of purpose. “It’s not like someone drew it up and built it. It kind of happened,” Walsh said.
Mike Cooper, owner of Cooper’s Landing, said musicians such as Naked Dave and Curly Joe Harper make music that exemplifies Missouri music. To Cooper, these musicians define Missouri music because they “write original music about their experiences growing up in Missouri.” Cooper’s is also a full-service marina and the home of Chim’s Thai Restaurant.
For more information go to cooperslanding.net or call 657-2544.
Lou Whitney on Camp Zoe and the Monarch Art Factory
This spot in Salem is a place where people can go camping, canoeing, hiking and partake in one of the many music festivals, including Schwagfest. According to the Web site, the most common activity at these festivals involves thousands of people dancing and listening to live music for up to three days. Whitney said Camp Zoe is an example of the resurgence of jam band music. He said the style of music is mostly based upon the free-spirit scene that began in the late 60s with the San Francisco hippie movement and became epitomized through the Grateful Dead. Schwagstock festivals will be held in May, July–October, and will feature The Schwag, a Grateful Dead tribute band.
For more information or to purchase tickets for upcoming festivals, go to campzoe.com.
Randy Bacon Studio and Art Gallery at the Monarch Factory Photography and live music come together at the Randy Bacon Studio and Art Gallery in Springfield. Bacon, a photographer who owns the facility, combines both his artistic endeavors as a photographer and a penchant for indie rock music in his studio. The studio and art gallery serve three main purposes. “We have an art/photography gallery, an event location and we have a concert venue with a full stage,” said Justin Woods, manager for Gallery Sounds, the concert series at Randy Bacon Studio and Art Gallery. The concert capacity is 300, and organizers book mostly indie bands who come from all over the world.
“Artists that come in here are blown away because it’s such a unique place,” Woods said.
David Bazan of Pedro the Lion, Cat Power and The Mountain Goats are examples of performers who have played at the studio said Cassie Dennis, manager of the studio. The studio also features local bands who support national acts such as The Social.
For more information go to randybacon.com or call 417-868-8179.