Jessica Balisle | KBIA

Jessica Balisle

Jessica Balisle, a Springfield native, grew up listening to KSMU. She now commands the front desk, taking your calls and greeting you at the door. Jessica co-hosts live music show Studio Live and is heavily involved with the station’s membership office. In 2006, she earned her BA in Applied Anthropology from Missouri State University. When she’s not at KSMU, Jessica plays bass in local bands the Hook KnivesBrother Wiley and the Ozark Sheiks, and sings in Shattered and JM Buttermilk.  She and her husband Todd live with their two cats Cory And Trevor and Elle Driver.

This month’s SoundCheck episode looks at the heartbreaking and heartwarming story of the weird sounds of Equal Sponge 22.0. The duo will be on KSMU’s Studio Live Friday, October 11 at noon, followed by Studio Live Social Hour at our new location, Tie & Timber Beer Co. from 6-8 that same day.

The year is 1996. The Springfield music scene is full of classic acts such as the Skeletons and the Smarties. Big Smith is beginning to take the town by storm.

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community series “Take It Outside: 10 Unique Spots to Enjoy the Natural Ozarks,” Jess Balisle takes listeners to the top of White Rock Mountain for a weekend of driving dirt roads, swimming and sunset watching.

We've just hit the dirt road on our way to White Rock. I’m so excited to be taking you guys to this very special place that I have grown up going to.

In this segment of KSMU’s Sense of Community series “Take It Outside,” Jess Balisle takes us to Blanchard Springs Caverns, just north of Mountain View, Arkansas.

KSMU’s series SoundCheck takes a sneak-peak at the bands of Studio Live. This month, the young songwriter Avery Mann lets us in on how he learned to play the guitar. Catch him on Studio Live on Friday, September 13, 2019 at noon, followed by Studio Live Social Hour at the Backlot at Alamo Drafthouse from 6-8 pm that same day.

The Queen City Shout Festival kicks off Wednesday evening, August 21, 2019 with 93 music acts, an art gallery and film festival. The five-day event is held on historic Commercial Street in Springfield, and organizers say proceeds go toward alleviating poverty here in the Ozarks. 

Music, art, film, poverty relief. These are the elements that make up this year’s Queen City Shout.

I first learned about the festival when one of my bands played there years ago. I’m back this year with another band.

The Margins, a Springfield-based band scheduled to perform on KSMU's Studio Live July 12 at noon, is comprised of musicians Todd Balisle, Jody Bilyeu, Jonathan Keeney, Mike Rumsey and Jacob "Toad" Wyrick. 

For our monthly series SoundCheck, the band members dissect three songs to give us a look at what inspires them and what they think makes a good rock ‘n’ roll song. The Margins also have strong opinions on candy. Their discussion on the subject is below in the bonus audio. 

For Fayda Pires Bown, the path to America has been unexpected and complicated. It was never her dream to live here.

Bown grew up in the big city of Goiânia, Brazil where she had a difficult childhood. She tells me she had an emotionally and physically abusive mother. By the time Bown was seventeen, she had come to the end of her rope.

In 1991, civil war broke out in Somalia. It’s a relatively young country, with only 59 years of independence since British rule. At the time, Abdi Tarey was five years old. His father was in the military and things became very dangerous for his family.

“And my mom said, ‘We have to run to Kenya because so many people has been killed.’ And there was chaos and escalation. The government was fighting. The people were saying that the need to overthrow the president. And then, there was too much killing and looting,” said Tarey.

Dream Ritual has been a band for five years. In that time, they’ve released two studio EPs. This year, they have a new eight-song album out that differs quite a bit from their previous two offerings. I sat down with the band to explore their musical journey to this new sound.

As guitarist and vocalist Jason Nunn explains, Dream Ritual had an idea in the beginning of what they wanted the band to sound like – particularly a heavy 90s alternative sound.

Environmental sustainability is on the rise across the nation – with increases in sustainability practices through corporations and individuals alike, according to Nielson. Here in the Ozarks, we’re seeing the same thing on a local level.

Ashley Krug is with Springfield Environmental Services.

“At our recycling centers, even our household chemical collection center and yard waste facility, we’ve seen a trend in more and more people using them all of the time,” said Krug.

Krug says that millennials are currently the least likely to recycle in our community.

Since 1971, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils have been a favorite band in the region and across the country. Now, a new album with a familiar feel will be released next week.  

HEAVEN 20/20, the new six-song album from the Daredevils, will be released May 17th, available on CD and digital download.

Since the young age of five, Randy Buckner has been a fan of Merle Travis. Known for his unique thumbpicking guitar style, Travis stood out to the young Buckner when he would spend time at his grandparents’ farm on North Grant Avenue in Springfield.

“So, being the usual rambunctious kid, to get me to keep quiet, Grandpa would play Merle Travis records, like Walking the Strings and The Merle Travis Guitar. And just the sound of that guitar just totally fascinated me,” said Buckner.

Songwriter Ryan Wallace had a band name tucked away long before he actually had a band.

“I can thank my mom for the name. I don’t remember exactly what she said. She was talking about someone that she didn’t hold in real high esteem and about how they spent their time always out in bars just talking to random strangers,” said Ryan

By the time 2010 rolled around, Ryan had written enough songs to record an EP.

“So, I went into a small studio in Nevada, Missouri, now defunct. The Armadillo Sound Studio,” he said.

In the days of segregation, African Americans had to refer to The Green Book to find places to safely stay overnight when they traveled.  And a three-story, Victorian house in central Springfield was on the list. 

I’m standing on North Benton, just south of Chestnut Expressway between the Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the Springfield Municipal Court building on what was the site of Alberta’s Hotel. It’s just a parking lot now, but the history of this place extends way beyond the pavement.

When you hear the name Ruell Chappell, what comes to mind? The Ozark Mountain Daredevils? Ozarks Writer’s Night at Friends Karaoke Pub? Maybe you’re like me and it’s Nick, Ruell and Ned the Band at McSalty’s in the 90s. Whatever it might be, now you can add Play It Forward to the list.

Nearly everyone in Springfield is familiar with the Sertoma Chili Cook-off. It’s the big celebration in February where local businesses and organizations compete for the best chili, all while helping support the Boys and Girls Clubs. Anyone who’s been to a chili cook-off knows that live music is a major part of the day’s events. This year’s event on February 23rd will again feature the KSMU Acoustic Stage, as well as the main stage in the big room of the downtown Expo Center.

How much does a band have to change over time before it’s not the same band anymore? For Sunset to Burns, the answer is: a lot. When the band formed in 2011, things seemed stable – from their Polk County roots to their acoustic sound. Even their name was deeply tied to the county. Founding member and guitarist Lucas Roberts explains its origin.

“The name Sunset to Burns is two bridges:  it’s a float trip. It’s from Sunset Bridge on the Pomme de Terre River to Burns Bridge on the Pomme de Terre River,” said Lucas.

Not every local band records with a producer, but Failing Minnesota has spent the last year and a half working with producer Kevin Gates at Reach Audio on their first full-length album. I sat down with the band to find out how working so closely with a producer has influenced them.

Vocalist and guitarist Michael Gandy remembers what it was like joining Failing Minnesota after they had already started recording.

When I listen to vocal groups with vibrant harmonies, I feel a rush of emotions from admiration to jealously. I’ve never been very good at it myself.

But Emily Higgins, Larry Lee and David Wilson are.  They’ve recently come together in a new trio that bursts with three-part harmonies. The group has dubbed themselves The HigLeeWils, taking a bit of each of their last names. But how does someone learn how to sing in harmony?

From Tarkio Road to Seven Bridges Road