On Friday, John Henry and the Engine performed onstage at Beer:30. The St. Louis/ Columbia, Mo based band is touring about 100-110 dates a year and has had shows in Emporia for the past few years.
“We’ve been playing in Emporia for about two years off and on,” guitarist and vocalist John Henry said, “more on lately. We were introduced to the scene by Ha Ha Tonka. They just showed us this market here in Kansas and it was pretty close to home and the people cared about live music, so that’s why we’re here.”
The band classifies itself as “Americana” music and keyboardist and vocalist Wes Wingate said their influence is American music of all kinds, including country, soul, gospel and rock and roll. At the show, they played covers of Credence Clearwater Revival.
“You know, the stuff they’re doing is pretty late 60s-esque stuff,” said John Shell, music major. “I mean, it is what it is and they play it very well. When you do covers, you want to hear somebody that can nail it.”
Henry and Wingate said they like playing in Emporia because there’s always a crowd of people that care about the music.
“The best thing about Emporia is probably the fact that there ain’t much to do in Emporia,” Wingate said. “So we are gathered here and everybody who is going to be out tonight is going to be here, really and that centralizes it which is harder.
“The bigger the city, the more it’s like a hotdog down a hallway, but here we can just really get a lot of people at once. And you know that they’re going to care about what you’re doing most of the time, so that’s a really good quality of this town.”
Eric Nelson, a member of The Whiskey Trio, which opened for John Henry, said he was honored to open for a band that the crowd really enjoyed.
“I thought it was great,” Nelson said. “It’s nice that there’s touring musicians coming to Emporia that care enough to stop here. It’s just good that we have musicians from other parts of the country coming through here.”
John Henry and the Engine plan on touring Europe in 2010. They are also coming out with a new EP on vinyl in October and will be back in Emporia towards the end of that month.
“The goals that we have are to constantly write better songs and to expand the radius that we tour in and to build up so that everyone can hear us,” Henry said. “We want people to hear the music that we do because we feel like what we’re doing is honest American music and we’re not trying to bullshit anybody.”
Lauren Walbridge/The Bulletin