Phil Welch Stadium has its throwback charms, and the park remains a great scenic destination to watch a ballgame. But anyone who attended one of the first three Joestock events would tell you that it didn’t serve as the best venue for a music festival.
The bands performed on makeshift stages behind home plate. The safety net used to protect fans from foul balls acted as a magic-killing barrier that separated the energetic live music acts from the listeners in the bleachers. And despite the fact that the crowds often reached numbers in the hundreds, the cavernous Phil Welch gave guests the feeling that barely anyone was there.
The St. Joseph Music Foundation has a great relationship with the St. Joseph Mustangs and they still love the nostalgic baseball stadium, but they knew a change had to be made if they wanted Joestock to boast that true festival vibe.
“We want the frisbee-throwing and everything you see down at Sounds of Summer, and the kids running around on the grass. You couldn’t do that at Phil Welch,” admits Bob Shultz, president of the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. “Downtown has that festival atmosphere.”
When the fourth Joestock Music Festival takes place this weekend, it will mark the first in Downtown St. Joseph. In addition to vendors such as How Sweet It Is, Mr. B’s Ice Cream Treats and Spaz Designs selling their snacks and wears on the festival grounds at Coleman Hawkins Park, several surrounding businesses — The Lucky Tiger, Gyro Paradise, Foster’s Martini and Wine Bar, Piatto 614, Gallery Seven, Bliss Salon, The Rendezvous, etc. — look to keep the party going on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Downtown is booming. The entertainment district is booming. We have vendors on that street that support the music scene. It’s a perfect match,” Shultz says.
Over the course of Labor Day Weekend, 27 local music acts will perform at the festival and eight new inductees to the Missouri Music Hall of Fame will be honored. Let’s first take a look at the legends:
Missouri Theater (induction at 5 p.m. Friday)
The Missouri Theater opened on June 25, 1927, as a cinema house showing “Rough House Rosie” as its first feature. After paying 25 cents admission, guests were astounded at the theater’s intricate beauty. The silent film paled in comparison to the theater’s Parisian architecture, plush seats, ornate chandelier and exquisite plaster work. That intimidatingly grandiose feeling is still alive and well today when you step in the building.
Designed by Boller Brothers, the Missouri Theater’s unique structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. While movie palaces across the country were being torn down to make room for contemporary structures, the citizens of St. Joseph refused to allow destruction of one of the country’s remaining treasures. For the last three decades, the Missouri Theater has hosted a variety of arts and entertainment acts provided by the Performing Arts Association, the Allied Arts Council, the Saint Joseph Symphony, Robidoux Resident Theatre and other organizations.
“It’s been through renovations. It’s been through fires. And it still remains to be this perfect arts venue, not only for music, but for all forms,” Shultz says.
Bob Heater (induction at 7 p.m. Friday)
Long before he became the nightly anchorman for FOX 26 KNPN, Heater spent 26 years in radio broadcasting and voice work in the St. Joseph and Kansas City markets.
He began his broadcast career in the ‘70s as a high school radio station DJ. He eventually entered commercial radio by becoming “Dave Knight,” the weekend night DJ on KKJO 1550-AM, where he introduced many young listeners to formative popular music.
“He was the Casey Kasem of Midwest radio for so many years,” Shultz says.
He went on to become involved in all aspects of radio, including news, sales and management. Heater left the business for a few years and followed in his father’s footsteps, working at Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory and St. Joseph Memorial Park, before returning to the world of news journalism in 2007.
Chuck Berry (induction at 9:30 p.m. Friday)
If you need an explanation for why this man belongs in the Missouri Music Hall of Fame, you probably know nothing about rock ‘n’ roll.
With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made the rock genre what it is today. All the while, his music became a bridge across the wide racial divide that was prevalent in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.
“You can’t argue the fact that as far as the Billboard charts were concerned, Chuck Berry was one of the first people to cross that barrier and make it accessible for all,” Shultz says. “And everybody from The Beatles on down have either started with his licks or made a career off of balancing his licks. ... There wouldn’t be a Jimi Hendrix, a Rolling Stones or a Jack White without Chuck Berry.”
Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986, making the comment that he “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound, but a rock and roll stance.” Berry also has been included on several Rolling Stone “Greatest of All Time” lists, including being ranked fifth on the magazine’s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time.
Although the 86-year-old legend continues to perform a monthly show at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis, he no longer travels to gigs. Needless to say, he will not attend his induction ceremony at Joestock, but he will make a recognition of the honor in some way.
“For his induction, we’re going to be having a great celebration of his music. Chuck Berry has been notified and he’s excited about it,” Shultz says.
The original crew of Kansas City’s KY-102 (induction at 3:45 p.m. Saturday)
If you mention the old gang from KY-102 to several local radio listeners, they’d probably make comparisons to the crew from WKRP in Cincinnati.
“KY-102 was this lightning rod at the golden age of FM radio,” Shultz says. “They were saturating the airwaves with what is now classic rock, but was progressive rock. For like 25 years, they were the cornerstone of classic rock radio.”
Not only did KY-102 present quality specialty programming like “The King Biscuit Flower Hour” and “Dr. Demento,” but the station also introduced several of the greatest names in rock to the Kansas City and St. Joseph areas. In fact, KY-102 was the first radio station to bring concerts by the likes of Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones to Arrowhead Stadium.
Former program director Max Floyd and a few other personalities will be on hand Saturday to accept the award.
Doc and Rich McCready (induction at 9:15 p.m. Saturday; performance by Rich at 9:45 p.m.)
This Seneca, Mo., pair’s induction marks the first time that both a father and son have reached the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. And according to Shultz, it’s more than justified.
Being inducted as a producer, Doc has worked with the likes of Western Swing Hall of Famer Melford Wedel, Noel Haggard, Hank Williams III and Nashville recording artist Dee McCall among many others. In 2004, Doc founded his own publishing company and scored a No. 1 spot on the Christian Country Music charts in 2007 with his co-written song “If God Wrote a Country Song.”
His son, Rich, found more success as both a songwriter and performer, scoring two big singles with “Hangin’ On’ and “Thinkin’ Strait” in 1995. During that time in the mid-1990s, he scored nominations from CMA, ACM and ICM awards. Rich continues to tour heavily in Texas, Tennessee, California and other parts of the country. On Saturday night, Rich will perform for loyal fans after he and his father are inducted.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of cowboy hats on Saturday night,” Shultz says.
Teddy Paxson (induction at 5:45 p.m. Sunday, performance at 6 p.m.)
Over a 40-plus year career in music, local guitarist Paxson has been in more than his fair share of bands, started more than his fair share of projects and seen more than his fair share of music acts come and go. But in all that time, Paxson has been both a consummate professional and a constant in these parts.
“He’s become a profession guitar progressive blues master right here in Northwest Missouri, which is where he wants to be. It’s not like he didn’t have his chance to move on,” Shultz says. “He’s had no other job but being a professional musician now for 50 years.”
Known largely for his stint in the band U.S.A., his later solo work and local shows with Jerry Forney and his classic rock cover band Rev’d Up, Paxson is one of those guys that every local musician has come to respect and admire.
Coleman Hawkins (induction at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, tribute performance at 6:45 p.m.)
It’s only natural that the St. Joseph Music Foundation moves Joestock to Coleman Hawkins Park on the year the iconic jazz saxophonist is inducted into the Missouri Music Hall of Fame.
From the dawning of jazz’s earliest days through the developments that brought about the swing genre’s rhythmic intensity and vibrant soloists, Hawkins was a driving force for innovation and personal discovery. Not only did the music evolve, but Hawkins evolved as well. While he is strongly associated with the swing music and big band eras, he also played a key role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.
However, the St. Joseph native’s ballads became his lasting trademark. Tunes like “Body and Soul” and “Lost in a Fog” proved inspirational to Miles Davis and generations of tenor saxophonists in the years since his death.
Because Coleman Hawkins has no living relatives, his plaque will be given to Alonzo Weston, president of the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Society. A tribute by local jazz artist Kathleen Holeman and “the Hall of Fame Jam Band” will start after the induction ceremony.
If you don’t know much about the other acts performing at the festival, don’t worry. Here’s a guide that will briefly give you a little information about each one.
FRIDAY, AUG. 30
4 p.m. — Joe’s Garage
Led by Joestock founder Jay Kerner and Foster’s owner Nathan Karr, this band should appease fans who dig three chord-progression folk rock in the vein of Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield, as well as Zappa-esque experimental rockers.
“It’s a fun start to the weekend,” Shultz says.
4:30 p.m. — Chris Jamison
The veteran of local bands including Smilin’ Jack, The Bridge and Jamazon Cloud will certainly share some deep thoughts with the audience through his reflective lyrics and genre-blending guitar. Combining bluegrass, blues, country, folk, jazz — “no style is off limits,” he says — Jamison strives for his songs to be anything but the “packaged” and “predictable” music heard on radios everywhere.
“These songs I’m going to do, they’re from the deeper currents of my art,” he says.
5:30 p.m. — Benton Rolling Alumni Band
Yes, that’s right. A mini-marching band will find its way to the Joestock stage on Friday night. But don’t expect to hear any of the typical Sousa tunes. Consisting of veteran Benton High School band members, the Benton Rolling Alumni Band has kept the spirit of its high school days alive by belting out unique instrumental arrangements of classic rock and blues tunes. In doing so, the group has become a local parade favorite.
6:15 p.m. — Mid Lyfe Crysis
Led by vocalist Sandy Duncan, Mid Lyfe Crysis has become a favorite at the Southside Fall Festival and has always managed to draw a good crowd each year at Joestock. The group plays several classic rock covers but isn’t afraid to dive into modern material either.
“As far as cover bands go, they have a really exciting take on it. They have Sandy Duncan as a female lead, and they’ll throw in Gaga and old time and rock ‘n’ roll. ... As their name implies, they’re all middle-aged people, but they like all sorts of music,” Shultz says.
7:30 p.m. — G.P.S.
For a classic rock cover trio, it’s hard to find a local group as gifted as G.P.S. Performing mostly songs from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s (although the band also may throw a little Chuck Berry and a few originals into its setlist), G.P.S. unanimously earns the same praise at each gig: They’re very tight and very underrated.
“They’re a small unit, but they sound like seven or eight people. I always throw it back to Rush. You don’t feel like they should have that dynamic sound, but they do,” Shultz says.
8:30 p.m. — The Re-Agents
Fun, laid back, loose and unpredictable — that’s how most folks would describe The Re-Agents. Each show runs the gamut of musical styles. The Re-Agents jam on everything, from old country tunes by Johnny Cash to Muddy Waters-style blues and early alternative rockers from The Violent Femmes. Then, they’ll mix in a bluegrass tune or two and finish up with a Grateful Dead or Widespread Panic jam.
“We want every show to be completely new,” says The Re-Agents’ lead singer and guitarist David Burns.
10 p.m. — The Nova Project
Nova Project gigs have been few and far between because, well, these guys are busy. Award-winning classical guitarist Anthony Glise teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia and spends more than four months a year living in France. Cellist James Kew works with the symphony. Guitarist Jason Riley is in a number of local bands. And drummer Nick Baker lives in New Mexico, so it’s not always the easiest task to get them in a room.
So, when you get a chance to witness such incredibly talented musicians play together, you should jump on it.
A Yale research thesis could be written about the inspirations for The Nova Project’s music, but we’ll try to keep it simple here. Glise has been illuminated by 15th- and 16th-century texts in the form of traditional British sonnets. He especially was drawn to the work of English poet and satirist John Donne, whose writings are noted for their strong and sensual style, and the French theologian Laurent Drelincourt. What the band does with these works, however, is what makes them such a crowd-pleaser.
“We’ll play a classical piece, and then by the time you add a six-string electrical cello, two electric guitars and a drum set, it becomes pretty psycho avant-garde prog rock,” Glise says.
“They are internationally respected for fusing together French literature, progressive rock, blues harmonies,” Shultz adds. “It’s this weird, indescribable melting pot of music that’s classical, beautiful and hard rock all at the same time. It’s no wonder they sell out stages in Europe all the time.”
SATURDAY, AUG. 31
11 a.m. — Retrofit
Influenced by a wide variety of artists — from Johnny Cash to Pink Floyd — this St. Joe five-piece plays a fun smattering of classic rock, blues and even a little R&B. The group’s entertaining mix has made it a big draw at Amnesia Too in St. Joseph.
12:15 p.m. — Jennifer George
Known for her acoustic performances at the Occupy events and Cafe Acoustic’s open mic night, George seems to be the only local artist blending unplugged punk with hooks, melodies and stylings reminiscent of P.J. Harvey’s work from the 1990s. Needless to say, George is an artist that’s both unique and captivating.
“She really emerged as this thoughtful singer/songwriter,” Shultz says. “You’re not going to get any kind of cookie-cutter music from her.”
1 p.m. — Cody Hudson
Hudson cut his teeth in the local band Lets Talk, but has been playing bass with Dsoedean in recent months. Influenced by indie rockers like Radiohead and the Pixies, erratic alternative rock is his bag, and lots of local music fans can’t wait to see what he brings to the stage this weekend.
“Of all the things on Saturday, he’s the one I’m putting an ear and eye out for,” Shultz says.
1:50 p.m. — Tom Meehan
Meehan, a retired schoolteacher, first tried his hand at music about 25 years ago, hoping to use it to engage students in the classroom. He immediately was drawn to Irish folk music. A couple of trips to Ireland gave him a firsthand sense of the style, which he authentically captures in renditions of traditional tunes like “Wild Rover” and “I’m a Poor Boy Come Far,” based on a poem Meehan himself penned. In recent years, Meehan has had a major influence on local artists, including Ben Constable.
2:45 p.m. — 9 Penny
Touring around the area for about a year, the St. Joseph rock quintet covers anything and everything that could be considered classic hard rock, from the songs of Van Halen to Tesla to Ratt to Dio. Inspired by rock ranging from the ’70s to the early ’90s, drummer Everett Jonas says the band wants to play tunes that will make people sing along and dance.
“We’re a band geared towards the hard rock fans, not so much the death metal or things like that, your Guns ‘N’ Roses, Tool, AC/DC-type stuff,” Jonas says.
4:30 p.m. — The Burnstyles
If you like Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid or G. Love & Special Sauce, you’ll want to check out The Burnstyles. This band specializes in reggae rock and ska punk originals. Think Sublime’s “40 Oz. to Freedom” with a harder edge and you’ll have a good idea of what this group is all about.
“They were a crowd-pleaser and they brought in their own style and tore up the stage,” says Shultz about the band’s 2012 Joestock performance.
5:45 p.m. — The Lucky
This relatively new Kansas City band describes its sound as “indie-garage-punk-pop-riot revival.” We’ll try to make it a little more simple. If you like ‘90s alt-rock or bands like The Black Keys or The Raconteurs, the catchy rock tunes of The Lucky should be right up your alley.
7 p.m. — The GasTown Lamps
Here’s a call to fans of The Black Keys, Hanni El Khatib, The Strokes or The White Stripes: You need to see The GasTown Lamps. This band boasts a garage rock sound that deftly incorporates enough blues, funk, soul and hard rock to keep it all from becoming monotonous. Like Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach, lead singer Todd Ward’s voice has a powerful but fine quality that comes off like a slightly smoother Howlin’ Wolf. Trust us. You’ll be impressed.
8:15 p.m. — Jerkface
Jerkface is deeply rooted in punk music, but the infusion of surf, ska, psychobilly and bluegrass influences makes this band stand out. No matter where Jerkface plays around town, loyal fans are sure to follow in their footsteps and stomp the night away.
“They’re one of the top premier bands of St. Joseph for a reason,” Shultz says.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 1
11 a.m. — Forced Anthem
This newcomer to the Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas scenes puts a new spin on alternative rock and blues. Forced Anthem is expected to play several originals as well as some “amped up” cover songs. The organizers are expecting big things from lead singer Andy Gibson and Co.
“He’s an amazing guitarist. He’s an amazing vocalist,” Shultz says of Gibson.
11:45 a.m. — A Greater Tomorrow
Inspired largely by Blink-182, A Greater Tomorrow has become one of the best pop-punk acts the state has to offer. In fact, the band caught the ear of producer Jeff Blue — who produced multi-platinum records by Limp Bizkit, KoRn and Hoobastank among many others — who worked with the band on its debut EP “Just in Time.” However, the bandmates agree that Blue nudged their music in a catchier, more mainstream direction. He helped them adopt a mature songwriting approach and taught them that, sometimes, less is more — as opposed to nonstop, all-out punk rock mayhem.
12:45 p.m. — Resurrected
Little was known about this band before they kicked off the Sunday morning festivities last year at Joestock. But the crowd was blown away by this young, original Christian rock band. Resurrected plays modern-edge inspirational music and sets it against the duality of both male and female lead vocals, giving the band’s tunes a distinct Fleetwood Mac kind of vibe.
“They were remarkable last year. They really were,” Shultz says.
1:15 p.m. — Britt Small
In the past 40 years, Skidmore, Mo., resident Britt Small and the Festival Family Band became the “musical voice of America’s veterans” by bringing about public awareness of living prisoners of war in Southeast Asia and the plight of the American veterans from all wars. On this Sunday, however, Britt Small will honor his late brother, Dave Small, who died just a few weeks ago.
“Britt always draws a huge crowd, and I’m sure it’s still going to be flavored with his sense of American pride, but it’ll be a little more of a reflective show,” Shultz says. “I’m kind of excited to see it, but also sad it has to happen.”
2 p.m. — Derrick Biermann
The Weston, Mo., resident will play an eclectic mix of original tunes inspired by the great songwriters of the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Neil Young, Bob Dylan and James Taylor.
2:30 p.m. — The Iris Project
This four-piece band’s stage set-up includes two keyboards, drums, a tenor sax and an alto sax. With The Iris Project, these young, educated musicians draw on a variety of styles including modern jazz, progressive rock, hip-hop and world music.
3:30 p.m. — Stephanie Gummelt
Most folks in St. Joseph might have heard of Gummelt through the “St. Joe’s Got Talent” competition. With her blend of indie rock and thoughtful folk and a subtle style all her own, Gummelt became an audience favorite. She should win over a few more fans at Joestock this weekend.
“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her two years in a row for ‘St. Joe’s Got Talent.’ She’s got a wonderful stage presence. She’s very modest, very quiet, but it feels right,” Shultz says.
4:30 p.m. — Jeff Lux
Acclaimed classic rock and blues guitarist Jeff Lux is known for going “all over the place,” and that’s why he has become a local festival favorite. For example, you might have caught him playing covers of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” or Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” from year to year at the Southside Fall Festival. What you might not know is that the guy has shared the stage with some of the world’s most famous acts including Bob Seger, REO Speedwagon, Shania Twain, Cheap Trick, Toby Keith and Patty Loveless. He’s truly a seasoned vet with a lot of talent.
Shea Conner can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.