The Cosmic Riders have been performing together for almost two years, but they haven’t played a large event since early March at the True/False Film Fest in Columbia. They were planning to release their self-titled debut album in the following weeks, but then COVID-19 hit Missouri and everything began to shut down. The neon lights at the typical spots where they performed—Eastside Tavern, Cafe Berlin, Rose Music Hall—had gone dim.

“The following month after that, shows got canceled left and right,” Tyle Toomsen, lead singer and guitarist, says. “We went from having four or five shows a month to having one show a month.”

Brothers Tyle and Vaughn Toomsen teamed up with local musician JT Schnakenberg, and Dennis Schubert, a family friend, to make up the four-person band they describe as somewhere between George Jones and The Rolling Stones. Cosmic American music may be a better descriptor, but it’s still hard to pinpoint their unique sound.

In their original songs like “Going Back to Kansas” and “Star Eyed,” you can hear country and rock influences with a hint of soul in their storytelling lyrics. They often perform a mix of covers from a wide variety of artists, including “Everybody’s Gotta Live” by the rock band Love, “Passing Through” by Leonard Cohen, and country hits from Merle Haggard. Since March, they have performed only outdoor shows at venues like Serenity Valley Winery in Fulton and Dive Bar in Columbia.

“We’re just holding on to what we have and trying to make it better or add new tracks,” Tyle says.

They hosted a virtual show on their Facebook page but are currently working out the kinks in the audio. The steel guitar and standup bass cause some technological difficulties during online shows. They hope to eventually have a live release party, but if they have to, they will have a virtual release instead and slowly release music on streaming services.

“Everyone’s champing at the bit to get back out and do things and see concerts,” Mike Nolan, the general manager at The Blue Note and Rose Music Hall, says. “Once that happens, I do think there will be an entertainment renaissance of sorts just because people have been starved of it for so long.”

With Tyle showcasing his twangy voice, Dennis sliding on his steel guitar, JT strumming—and occasionally standing on top of—a standup bass bigger than he is, and Vaughn thoughtfully playing the drums, the band simply wants to continue doing what they love. But it would be nice with an audience.

“I’m curious to see what the artists were able to do with all this free time,” Mike says. “There’s probably going to be some pretty cool music coming out when this is all said and done.”

Visit Cosmic Riders at

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“Whether you’re a local artist or nationally touring artist, merch is kind of the bread and butter. That’s where they make a good chunk of their income. I’m sure a bunch of our local bands have merch available online, or when you’re at one of their shows, definitely buy a shirt or a CD.” —Mike Nolan, general manager at The Blue Note & Rose Music Hall.