Country music lyrics often describe small town life in America and what it’s like growing up in all those nothin’ towns. Looking at the location and population of Kennett, Missouri, it would be easy to dismiss it as irrelevant. Not so fast! Call it The Mouse That Roared. That novel was originally a six-part series published in the Saturday Evening Post under the name The Day New York Was Invaded. Taking a page from that book, we might call Kennett, Missouri The Little Town That Invaded Nashville.
***I have been informed that it’s not what’s in the water but what’s in the BBQ and the Bakery that had an influence on the musical talent in Kennett!
Kennett lies in the southeast corner of Missouri, the “bootheel,” as it’s called by those of us who grew up in the state. You could literally walk into Arkansas from there and still be home in time for dinner. The latest population census shows nearly 11,000 people living there. All in all, a pretty small town. Yet for a town its size, it has exported some impressive musicians. Nashville artists Sheryl Crow, David Nail, and Trent Tomlinson all grew up in tiny Kennett, Missouri, and have made a name for themselves in country music.
Sheryl Crow is a fairly recent newcomer to the music scene in Nashville, but it hasn’t taken her long to feel at home there. Last September, she released her first country album, appropriately called Feels Like Home. Sheryl’s voice is comfortable in multiple genres of music and country seems to suit her just fine. She had a hand in writing almost every song on the album and the result is a little rock, a little blues, and a whole lotta country. The theme of the album draws on everyday living and what happens to people who go about their lives in small towns where everybody knows your name and your business! (Cheers!) This is an album that makes staying home listening to music feel like a great way to spend the day. You might even want to “put out the lawn chairs and turn on the hose.” Feels Like Home is available through iTunes: HERE You can catch Sheryl on the Rewind Tour with Rascal Flatts this summer. Visit her website for dates, cities, and ticketing information: http://www.sherylcrow.com/tour
You can vote Sheryl’s “Easy” video CMT Female Video of the Year here: http://www.cmt.com/cmt-music-awards/nominees/female-video-of-the-year.jhtml
David Nail released his third album earlier this year called I’m A Fire. He was born and raised in Kennett but moved to Nashville after high school to chase his musical dreams. He experienced some success with his first two releases and some of the frustration that life in Music City can bring. Lucky for us, he stuck with it, and his latest album is a crowning achievement. I’m A Fire is packed with raw emotion. It draws that emotion from experiences everyone can relate to. The passion that can exist between two people, leading to good or bad results, is the theme of the album, and David has masterfully conveyed that passion through the songs and his powerful vocals. You can read my complete album review here: http://waynorthofnashville.com/david-nail-im-a-fire-yes-he-is/ I’m A Fire is available through iTunes: HERE Just this week David was part of Keith Urban and Vince Gill’s All 4 The Hall benefit concert in Nashville. It is quite an honor to be invited to perform at this annual event, and further proof that David Nail is as the title of his album proclaims. To see him on tour this summer, visit his website for all the details: http://www.davidnail.com/tour/
You can vote David’s “Whatever She’s Got” video CMT Breakthrough Video of the Year here: http://www.cmt.com/cmt-music-awards/nominees/breakthrough-video-of-the-year.jhtml
Trent Tomlinson wasn’t born in Kennett, Missouri, but he was raised there, and if you listen to his music, it’s obvious that small town had a big influence on him. “Country Is My Rock” is the title track of his debut album and it doubles as his musical biography. I imagine if Kennett, Missouri had a voice, it would express pride in that song and perhaps demand recognition for having helped him write it. His music is honky-tonk fun and a big dose of small town reality. His voice is at times pure country, sometimes 80s rockstar, but always pitch perfect powerful. When he goes softer for a ballad, there’s still a soulful power to it. His new single is called “Come Back To Bed” and good luck refusing that request! It sounds a little like an 80s rock song, which Trent can absolutely pull off, with a hint of country in it. But whether he was wearing spandex or boots and jeans singing this one, it’s hot enough to burn up The Highway. Call him the country version of Bret Michaels. “Come Back To Bed” is available through iTunes: HERE He is also an incredibly talented songwriter. One of his recent songwriting credits is Parmalee’s “Close Your Eyes” off their debut album, Feels Like Carolina. It’s a great song that’s currently climbing the charts. You can download it now through iTunes: HERE Visit Trent’s website for show dates: http://trenttomlinson.net/tourdates.html
Watch Trent perform his HOT new single “Come Back To Bed”!
I’ve never been to Kennett, Missouri, despite having been born and raised near St. Louis, but I’m curious about the water supply there. Or maybe it’s something in the air. Something in that small town seems to bring out the musical talent in its residents. Maybe it’s the limited entertainment opportunities available there that force the population to look inside themselves for inspiration. Perhaps because there is no place to hide in a small town like Kennett, music provides a way to kind of disappear down a rabbit hole for awhile. You can write a song and hide yourself in the lyrics. You can learn to play guitar and pretend to be a rockstar in front of your bedroom mirror. Look east from Kennett, Missouri and you might set your sights on Nashville. Sheryl’s dream took her all over the world before settling in Nashville. David and Trent focused their attentions on making it in Music City. All three of them took the state’s nickname to heart and have done exactly that. When crossing the state line moving in the direction of their dreams, if the state of Missouri had a voice, it would call out “don’t forget to come back and SHOW ME what you’ve done!” These three talented Missouri natives are very different artists, but they do have at least two things in common besides their hometown….excellent taste in baseball teams and knowing the answer to this…MIZ
Missouri born & raised…MIZZOU educated…and it’s no secret that I’m a die hard Cardinals fan!! From WAY North of Nashville…Bev Miskus
David Nail sang “God Bless America” at Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, which took place at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. For those of you who might have forgotten, the Cardinals won that game 6-2 and completed the most improbable run to a World Series title EVER!! For Cardinal fans, this is David Nail’s coolest video!
If you’re planning a trip to Kennett, Bill’s BBQ and Causbie’s Bakery are essential stops on your itinerary! Bill’s BBQ is located at 700 St. Francis Street. Here’s the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bills-Bar-BQ/149453728411241 Causbie’s Bakery is located at 212 Kennett Street. The link to their information on Facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Causbie-Bakery/113490305350694
********************************PARDON MY OMISSION**************************
Through the outpouring of comments I’ve received in response to this article, I now know that I left someone out who should have been included in my accounting of Kennett’s country music stars! Noll Billings of the country rock group, Blackjack Billy, was also born and raised in Kennett. Sadly, I was unaware of Blackjack Billy’s music, but now that I have done my homework, let me just tell you that Blackjack Billy ROCKS! The group is made up of Kennett-born Noll Billings, Rob Blackledge (Madison, Mississippi), Jeff Coplan (Montreal), Patrick Cornell (Dayton, Ohio), and Brad Cummings (Hendersonville, Tennessee). The group came together in Nashville and combined their many talents, which include songwriting and producing. They released their debut single, “Booze Cruise,” independently in March of 2013. It received some airplay on country radio and broke sales records for independent releases that year. They followed it up in November with an EP called Get Some, released by Bigger Picture Group. The songs on here are all fun! Serious rockin’ fun!! Just two weeks ago they released a new single called “Got A Feeling,” and it sounds like the start of something really good! You can download “Got A Feeling” through iTunes: HERE
Watch the video for “Born To Ride” off their EP, Get Some! I will assume that the guy wearing the STL Cardinals hat in the truck in this video is Noll. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!
Get Some is available through iTunes: HERE
©2014 Bev Miskus