If you like your music tinged with a country twang, you’ll want to boot-scoot boogie your way to MO Country Fest on Saturday, January 14. Some of our states’ most promising country crooners will be pickin’ and a grinnin’ at one venue.

The Show-Me state has never had any shortage of talented troubadours who personify country music. We’ve produced artists who’ve gone on to find fame and fortune in Nashville and even landed on the Country Music Billboard charts. A few native sons and daughters who’ve done us proud in recent years? Chris Janson, Tyler Farr, Sara Evans, and Halle Kearns. And on Saturday, January 14, at 8 p.m., some of the hottest new ones to watch (and hear!) will be taking the stage at The Blue Note in Columbia, Mo. for MO Country Fest. Get ready to tap your toes to the tunes of Forrest McCurren, Meredith Shaw, Nick Gusman & The Coyotes, and Jake Stringer – all packaged up neatly together like a nice, cold six-pack.

Photo Courtesy of Forrest McCurren

Forrest McCurren and his wife Margaret, who plays fiddle and drums in his band, have been crisscrossing the country touring. “Margaret and I have been traveling around, from western Wyoming to the shores of South Carolina, telling tales and singing songs about this place and its people. When introducing myself, I always say, “I come from the heart of the Heartland, the middle of Missouri” and at the end of each night I invite folks to come to see the Show-Me and volunteer as their Official Tour Guide (and I do give a good tour).”

He continues, “I’ve been shaped and swooned by its rolling rivers and hills, its writers like Twain, Angelou and Least Heat-Moon and the sound of its musicians from Chuck Berry (Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll), to Sheryl Crow, to Nathaniel Rateliff and Nelly whose line, “I’m from the Show-Me State, show me seven I’ll show you eight” was imprinted on my 10-year-old mind and stuck there like a sticker.”

He’s grateful for the opportunity to play Saturday night. “I’m thankful that Rose Music Hall and The Blue Note (two of the best stages east or west of the Mississippi River) have taken this time to shine their bright lights on the writers and players that are currently shaping the Show-Me State scene. The 14th will be a great, American Saturday night full of singing, shaking, and smiling. I’ll have the band, The Daily Special, with Ryan “The Capitol City Kid” on lead guitar, Keyven “The Darling” Dunn bumping the bass, and the lady with a Colgate smile, Margaret McCurren, on drums and fiddle (not at the same time). I think as a community, a state, and a country, we’re at our best when getting together and sharing a moment and hope that folks come out and get down to some Show-Me state songs!

Photo courtesy of Meredith Shaw

After putting her dreams of being a singer/songwriter on hold, Meredith Shaw decided to take another run at it. After performances in Nashville, she opened the Roots ‘n Blues music fest in Columbia, Mo., in October of 2022. Of performing on Saturday, Meredith says, “As a lifelong Missourian who grew up on a 200-acre century family farm in NE Missouri, representing the songs of Missouri country music and country life’s important to me. It was an honor to be asked to play at the MO Country Fest. I’m rolling out a couple of new original songs, “Stars” and “Men My Age” (a fun song about middle-aged dating problems), plus we’re debuting a new cover to get ’em moving – a boot-scootin’ take on a rocking Joan Jett classic.”

Photo courtesy of Nick Gusman & The Coyotes

Also in the lineup at MO Country Fest are Nick Gusman and the Coyotes. The St. Louis resident and his band released their first album in 2021, following the release of his solo album Dear Hard Times, released in 2018. The band’s toured extensively across the U.S. and opened for well-known and up-and-coming artists like Chris Knight and Charlie Crockett, and the group’s scheduled for a European tour this year.

Photo courtesy of Jake Stringer

Rounding out the fest’s talent is Jake Stinger. “The music of Missouri is a lot like the landscape of Missouri,” Jake says. “Often looked over, but beautiful and exciting for those who come looking for it. Highly underrated.” He adds, “There will be four very unique examples of that at Missouri Country Fest. I’m honored to get to represent.”

Don’t miss this salute to the country from flyover country – our own great state of Missouri!