The Trails West Festival in St. Joseph, MO is celebrating it’s 20th year this season. That is no small feat in our little midriff of the world. Named in honor of the town that served as a major “jumping off” point for westward expansion during the infamous days of ‘Manifest Destiny’. Dear native Americans, we’re all cool now, right?
Back in the day, St. Joe had a great spot to cross the Missouri River. They had ferrys to carry covered wagons and everything. It’s one of those things that really put the town on the map even before the Pony Express (see St. Joseph, MO).
More recently the Trails West Festival has played host to a multitude of National Country, Rock, Jazz and Blues artists and faithfully included music, fine arts and crafts from the Midwest and local community (see Trails West Festival).
I’ve played the festival personally more times than I can even recollect. I do know I probably hold the record for the “most sets” in any given weekend which I think was about 10. You do that by playing a few solos in the arts area over a few days, maybe hitting the city stage a few times with 2 or 3 different acts and just generally hustling. They put the kibosh on those shenanigans real quick. Seems there can be too much of a good thing.
I’ve played for a lot of large audiences with those of the TW fest being some of the prodigious. That was back in the days when a “local” group could “open” on the main stage for a national “headliner”. After our groups did a few of those they put the kibosh on that real quick too. UTI, Soca and Pig Farmer all had a crack at it and I even got to play the National Anthem one year (that’s always a star-crossed affair and I promise, it won’t happen again). I kind of remember the good and sweet folks of Under the Influence being blacklisted for some infraction. Hey, they’re a rock-n-roll band not girl scouts. Wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last.
How fitting that the very same Under the Influence will be performing twice on sunday at this year’s fest. The band celebrating 20 years together with the hometown festival celebrating the same digits. Coincidence? Shows are at 1 and 4pm. Manifest Destiny? I think so.