Music of Missouri

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St. Louis, Missouri was an important center of jazz and blues, as well as country and bluegrass. Kansas City was also one of jazz's major centers, with performers such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie and Lester Young, and its own jazz style. Ragtime got its influential hold at the city of Sedalia thanks to Scott Joplin and his publisher John Stark, and through another Missouri native, James Scott. In the Ozarks, hillbilly music developed, and from 1955–1961, Springfield was home to some of the first national country music programs on American television. Chuck Berry, Porter Wagoner, and Speck Rhodes were born in Missouri. More recently[when?] Branson has become a country music tourist mecca.

Missouri played a major role in the evolution of country music, and originated a vibrant style of fiddling characterized by a driving bow. In the pre-grunge days of the 1990s, up-and-coming local St. Louis area bands Uncle Tupelo blended punk, rock, country-influenced music styles with raucous performances and became the modern day pioneers of the genre known as Alt-country.

Alt-country/indie rock[edit]


In the mid-1980s, the Saint Louis area (and nearby southern Illinois) was home to garage band the Primitives and rock band the Blue Moons.[1] The Blue Moons featured Festus native Mark Ortmann on drums and Brian Henneman.


The Primitives reorganized and transformed into Uncle Tupelo in the early 1990s.[1] At the same time, Chicken Truck, an original outlaw country rock band, featuring Brian Henneman and drummer Mark Ortmann, was giving memorable performances in clubs such as Cicero's. Chicken Truck reorganized and became the indie roots rock band the Bottle Rockets in 1992. A country cover band called Coffee Creek linked all of these upstart bands. Coffee Creek was composed of Jay Farrar, Brian Henneman, Mike Heidorn, and Jeff Tweedy.[2]

Uncle Tupelo disbanded in 1994.[3] Founding members of Uncle Tupelo formed Son Volt and Wilco after the split.

Bottle Rockets became known for their hit songs, "Radar Gun", "$1,000 Car", and "I'll Be Comin' Around". Their success led to appearances on the television show Late Night with Conan O'Brien performing one of their original songs as well as being featured in a comedic skit.


After extensive remodeling, Cicero's became what is currently known as Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, and Chuck Berry performs there monthly, as do national touring rock music artists.[4]

Music of Branson[edit]

Branson, Missouri is a tourist area, especially associated with mainstream country music. The town's popularity grew in the 1980s when a number of prominent country stars moved to the area, including Boxcar Willie, Sons of the Pioneers and Roy Clark. Two major attractions had roots in the 1950s, the Shepherd of the Hills Theatre and Park and Silver Dollar City. Modern music festivals in Branson include the Old-Time Fiddle Festival, Branson Jam and the State of the Ozarks Fiddlers Convention. The largest music venue in Branson is the Grand Palace, which seats upwards of 4,000 people.[5]

Prominent local attractions in Branson include the entrepreneur and performer Jennifer Wilson, a regional celebrity known for her show the Americana Theatre,[6] the Mabe family's Baldknobbers, which has been running for three generations, and Jim Owen, of the Jim Owen Morning Show.

The area's country music broadcasting history, however, can be traced to Springfield in the mid-1930s, when Ralph D. Foster's KWTO began carrying live performances and syndicating them to other stations across the country. The station's most famous program was Ozark Jubilee, which starting in 1955 was carried live on ABC-TV across the country. Foster became a major figure in the region's music history; there is a museum named after him on the campus of the College of the Ozarks.[5]

Other national country music TV programs originating from Springfield included Five Star Jubilee and Talent Varieties.

Rock and metal[edit]

St. Louis had a vibrant new wave scene, including Trained Animals, The Ooze Kicks, The Strikers and Zanti Misfits. The most famous hardcore band though was St. Louis' White Pride, whose parody of racist attitudes was often lost on their audiences. Also Joplin was home to two of the toughest bands in Missouri, While I Breathe and This Above All. The University of Missouri in Columbia had an influential annual Thrash Bash, inaugurated in 1983 with Causes of Tragedy and The Croppy Boys. Joplin native Christofer Drew and his acoustic rock band Never Shout Never are also all from Joplin. Kansas City, Missouri was also part of a vibrant scene along with Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas; this scene is more commonly associated with the music of Kansas rather than Missouri.[7] Other bands such as Story of the Year - formally Big Blue Monkey, 360Smile, Blinded Black, So They Say, and Cavo emerged from St. Louis. Shaman's Harvest is from Jefferson City. The most popular metal band of St. Louis is the prog metal band Anacrusis (band). They´re considered as the first band who combined melodic thrash metal with progressive elements and clean vocal parts. Their albums are seen as classics of the prog metal genre.

In 2005 the rock band, Living Things, gained national attention after the release of their album, Ahead of the Lions.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "No Depression liner notes". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  2. ^ "Coffee Creek". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  3. ^ "Uncle Tupelo's last song". YouTube. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  4. ^ Pick, Steve. "Bottle Rockets « Americana and Roots Music". No Depression. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  5. ^ a b Byron, pgs. 123 - 140
  6. ^
  7. ^ Blush