Missouri, where once was often heard the crack of the fur trader’s rifle; of the “Mark Twain!” and the clink clank of the lock and the dam, the click clack of the West-bound. Or the ancient banjo of the underground. It is the bluebird’s song and the bald eagle’s screech echoing down the limestone xylophone river bluffs. Its shape-note book is one encoded, of parlor songs with gospel temperance, gospel songs with political power and of ragtime pianists who could just flat-out play. These are the sounds of Missouri and The Meanwells are a Missouri band. The band is a collection of three extinct Columbia, Missouri bands: Girl Traffic (Mike Fox, Marissa Wood), The Grand Falls (Greg Kinkeade, Russ Baurichter (also of Night Bear)), and A Bateria (Charlie Midkiff) Each Meanwell member plays 2.78 instruments in any given set of 10 songs. They are the Sigur Ros of the Midwest, not so much in tone but in musical proficiency. The stage and studio is a rube-Goldberg music-class experiment: Irish and African banjos express ties to worlds old and ancient, the Middle-eastern Harmonium sings and squeals droning truths, classic Missouri psych-rock guitars fight and resolve, dig and soar: a jazz drum pops and fizzes. Charlie's upright bowed-bass rumbles through the state like the impending New Madrid earthquake, while Mike's mandolin keeps lookout from the shimmering heights. Expect to see and hear the following at The Meanwells' show: Electric Bass, Stand-up Bass (Bowed), 6 string guitar, Mandolin, Harmonium, Glockenspiel, Tenor (Irish) Banjo, African (5-string) banjo, trapset, piano. As professional as they are artistic, The Meanwells represent what has been lost to the radio decades ago: honest artists making beautiful music first for their neighbors and soon for the world.
Photography by Harry Katz Design
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