Americana with a splash of Missouri grit

The HipNecks' newest release has historical themes.

By Briana Altergott | Sept. 17, 2010

Tags: Music

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For Pat Kay and Wes Wingate of Missouri-based Americana rock group The HipNecks, relaxing at Coffee Zone in downtown Columbia is a familiar ritual. The employees recognized and greeted them, as did some customers arriving for their morning coffee.

“It’s like our home away from home,” Kay said.

Kay, who works at The Blue Note, formed the band with former member Scott Anderson in 2001 as a duo act.

“We started playing one night a week at the local bar in Fulton,” Kay said. “We kept adding more people as the band evolved. Everything seemed to happen as a necessity.”

By 2004, Wingate and other members completed the band, and its audiences could not get enough of its fast-paced, catchy sound.

“The crowds kept getting bigger, but we still didn’t have any actual songs,” Kay said.

It was not until Anderson left the group that the band took a more serious approach to writing music. In 2005, the band collected what Kay calls its “college songs” into its first album, Just Another Fine Day.

“We played at the album’s release party and ended up selling 300 copies that night,” Kay said. “People in the crowd were buying CDs for their friends.”

The HipNecks’ sophomore album, American Night, was recorded three years later. Now, the band’s members are working on a third project, which is being released one single at a time.

“We’re catering to the mass attention deficit disorder,” Wingate said.

The most recently released single, “Sni-A-Bar Stomp,” was made available on iTunes Sept. 16, along with the music video. Wingate said the song has both geographic and historical ties to mid-Missouri.

“I started writing it about four or five years ago and decided to come back to it,” Kay said. “The song is about a man in Missouri during the border wars between Missouri and Kansas.”

Drawing on historical events for lyrical inspiration isn’t uncommon for Kay and Wingate, who see themselves as going beyond the stereotyped rock band image.

“The other guys in the band just think of themselves as guys in a rock band, but Pat and I are storytellers,” Wingate said. “So artists such as Bob Dylan and Jeff Tweedy are big inspirations as well.”

Stories are enjoyed most by those who haven’t heard them yet, and Kay’s favorite audiences for his ballads are the new ones, no matter their size.

“The best part about playing a show for me would be going out and playing for people that have never heard you before,” Kay said. “The small towns that other bands don’t really want to pass through always have the nicest crowds.”

Hopefully the Columbia crowd behaves: The HipNecks will perform tonight at The Blue Note. Tickets are $5, and doors open at 8:30 p.m.

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