The Cafe Acoustic has the best sound in St. Joseph for seeing a show. Because of this, the bands in town are often judged by their shows at the Cafe. Two of St. Joe’s hotter new bands ended up on the same bill on 6/1/12 at the Cafe so it was a good opportunity to see them sounding their best. It was the extremely young Scruffy & the Janitors and a new band of experienced musicians, Missouri Homegrown.
Scruffy & the Janitors are all three on the young side of 20 years old and have a solid start to their musical careers. The band has been getting buzz around town and drawing people out to shows at bars they normally would be too young to even get into. They would have the task of opening the show with about an hour set to prep the crowd for the rowdy Missouri Homegrown.
Some bands have a very original sound and it is very refreshing, other bands sound like several other bands that everyone knows. Scruffy & the Janitors definitely fall in the latter category of wearing their influences on their sleeves with each song. They do what they do extremely well however, so by no means are they a boring band.
They don’t hide their influences in their setlist either, they tip their cap to the old blues that influences them as well as newer music like The White Stripes, Black Keys and Cage The Elephant. They have a solid base of original songs that make up most of each night’s song selection. Of the original songs performed the standout seemed to be the (not surprisingly) guitar heavy “I’ll Pick You Up.” The most obvious influence for the band is the White Stripes; the guitar riff heavy music from Scruffy closely resembles what Jack White did with his band. Scruffy even plays a combination “Fell In Love With A Girl” and “Little Room” cover to pay tribute to them. They also covered the Black Keys song “These Days.”
Their tributes to the old blues standards were particularly good. They did a crunchy guitar riff laden version of “House of the Rising Sun” and wrote their own lyrics with old blues music for an excellent song called “Poor Boy, A Long Way From Home.”
Missouri Homegrown packs a little more punch than Scruffy & the Janitors as their stage setup includes five band members as opposed to Scruffy’s bare bones noisy trio. Missouri Homegrown has lead, rhythm and an acoustic guitar in their setup on top of the drummer and bass player. They band takes a no nonsense approach their songs with very little commentary between songs before blasting into their next number. They are also a very guitar heavy band but with much more flashy guitar playing as opposed to riffs. They may be the ultimate bar band with songs about alcohol, drugs and the resulting situations, songs like these always go over good with the bar crowd. This was particularly noticeable with the repeated chorus of “High in Missouri tonight.”
They also pay homage to those who have played before them though it isn’t as obvious as the band that opened for them on this night. You can hear traces of old classic and outlaw country and blues all over their sets of original songs. The band builds a nice momentum with their show mixing in some slower songs but doing a good job of building to the songs later in their set. The highlight of each show for Missouri Homegrown is the song “Blame It” as it starts slow and drives a chorus of “Blame it on the whiskey, blame it on the god damn cocaine.” The band would close their set with particularly rowdy version of “Bad Boy Blues.”
The two bands are definitely among the better acts in St. Joseph right now and like with all good bands that are just starting out the next step is hopefully some recorded songs to sell at shows. Both Scruffy & the Janitors and Missouri Homegrown are rumored to have recorded music coming out soon so hopefully they will be available at a show soon.