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Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006 02:32 pm

A comparitive study of visiting bands

It’s Saturday night with the Stone Cats and Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys

Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys

This week, we will study the similarities and differences between two bands playing in Springfield on Saturday night, Dec. 2.

First, both bands are based in large metropolitan areas of Missouri: The Stone Cat Band (playing Marly’s Pub, 9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) is from St. Louis; Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys (playing the Underground City Tavern, 700 E. Adams St., 217-789-1530) are from Kansas City. The bands’ styles, perceived as quite different, are equally acceptable in nightclubs across America and especially popular here in the Midwest. Members of both bands sing while playing instruments, write their own songs, perform live, and release CDs regularly.

Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys are signed with Chicago’s independent Bloodshot Records and enjoy national and international record distribution and a built-in record-company fanbase. They try to appear as if they’ve waltzed straight from a 1950s or ’60s honky-tonk into your local tavern.

The Stone Cats created their own distribution network and now have a new single in stock at Tower Records and claim to have international availability as well, acting as band, record label, management, and publishing company. They appear contemporary in dress, emulating current pop-rock video styles.

Hobart, a former punk-rocker, recently celebrated a decade of music-making with the Misery Boys. He pushes to perfect that old honky-tonk sound, promoting two-steps, waltzes, and pearl-snap shirts and reveling in the retro-ness of country music. His latest CD lists songs such as “It Won’t Be Long (and I’ll Be Hating You),” and the band’s bio on the Bloodshot Web site says that these songs “will break your heart . . . if you have one.”

The Stone Cat Band was founded by guitarist Mark Johnson and bassist Jeff Seymore in 2002 to create “the ultimate musical experiment to fulfill their innermost love for music,” according to band information provided on the CD Baby.com Web site. Describing their music as contemporary rock/pop with an electric guitar, bass, and drum setup, they recently released a hoped-to-be huge single (it was produced in LA) called “Happy.” The band bio stresses the Stone Cats’ desire to make “feel good” music and “uplifting sounds that make the listener happy.”

The Stone Cats received a nice review from the Nashville Music Guide, but Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys don’t get noticed in the capital of contemporary country music.

All in all, we’ve found these bands have several similarities, despite various differences. The conclusion is: Whichever style of music you like best would probably lead you to the band you like better.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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