The days and weeks of summer seem to speed up as the season goes on. Before I know it we’ve passed the Fourth of July and soon August is here and I have to start preparing for Midwest Hemophilia Association Summer Camp and the Missouri State Fair.
During the late spring, Missouri State Fair fans anxiously await the tricking announcements of the acts that are going to be coming to the Pepsi Grandstand. Sometimes a band will put a schedule up on their website a little early and the Fair is forced to make the announcement a little early but for the most part the answers to the ongoing mystery of who is going to be at the Grandstand is relatively well kept.
Tickets for the shows at the premiere entertainment showcase at the Fair officially went on sale not too long ago, and I’m a little late on one of my columns that you’ve probably come to expect every year: your favorite musically stunted columnist listens to some of the Grandstand acts that he’s not familiar with.
The Fair starts on my birthday this year, August 11th and the Pepsi Grandstand opens with 3 Doors Down and Shaman’s Harvest. Now of course I’m familiar with 3 Doors Down, I think every American who lived through the late ’90s and early millennium has heard “Kryptonite” at least once. I’ve never heard of Shaman’s Harvest, through I will give them a little extra credit for having a band name that doesn’t immediately put me off.
Wait, they’re from Jefferson City? That’s cool, and now I feel extra bad that I’m not too familiar with their work. Maybe I have heard that name, now that I think about it.
Despite the fact that their first single was released in 2006 it feels straight out of the new metal ’90s and if that’s what you’re looking for you’re looking in the right place. There’s no problems with the general musicianship but Shaman’s Harvest really rises and falls based on the soulful style of lead vocalist Nathan Hunt who dealt with throat cancer while recording their most recent album, 2014’s “Smokin’ Hearts & Broken Guns.”
Shaman’s Harvest is like if someone took Creed and somehow made them significantly less lame. And they must keep getting better, because both of their most recent singles are better than most of their other songs. “Dirty Diana” is a great cover of a classic from the King of Pop and “In Chains” is one of their best original songs. The newly adopted country flair of some of their newer work seems to be the best way forward for Shaman’s Harvest. The fact that they would even cover a Michael Jackson song lets you know that they don’t take themselves too seriously which is probably easy to do when you sing so much about how crazy and dangerous you are.
Friday, Aug. 12, brings us Brett Eldredge with Belles & Whistles. What’s up with all these male country acts who refuse to share any of the credit with the musicians who aren’t the lead vocalist when it’s time to think of a name for their act? At least singers like Joan Jett and Tom Petty occasionally acknowledge their Blackhearts and Heartbreakers, respectively.
I looked up a song by “Belles & Whistles” called “Princess” and I had to turn it off after a minute or so. It was the epitome of bad, generic female driven country-pop. But judging by the name of the band and the name of that song, I expected nothing less. Their other songs aren’t any better, or any more memorable.
August 16th brings Chris Janson and August 17th features Jamey Johnson and John Anderson. Now that’s an easy set of names to mix up. I was going to make a joke about how the music they produce is equally easy to mix up but while Janson makes generic modern truck country Anderson creates memorable and beautiful songs like “Seminole Wind”and Johnson exists somewhere between those two – sometimes he makes music that makes him seem like the living legacy of classic country music and sometimes he sings songs about beer with people like Colt Ford.
Are you going to any of the Pepsi Grandstand concerts this year?
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.