Artist Spotlight: Ha Ha Tonka
This is the eleventh post in a series of articles highlighting the artists performing at The 2018 Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. 

-Evan O’Brien, Roots N Blues Intern

Ha Ha Tonka is about as Missouri as it gets. Not only are they from/formed in Missouri, but they’re named after a state park here, too. It should come as no surprise then, that their music has been described as “Ozark-steeped-blues-rock.”

Don’t be fooled by their name, however; they don’t make honky tonk, light-hearted country — not that there’s anything wrong with that. The band, comprised of Brian Roberts, Brett Anderson, Luke Long, Mike Reilly and James Cleare, are fiercely edgy, with fascinating worldviews, which leads to incredible story-telling. As their website says, they have a “dark view of the realities of socio-economic hardship, backwoods prejudices and drug abuse.”

While there’s no doubt that these guys are Missouri bred, their first single came out of Bloodshot Records in Chicago in 2007. They subsequently released five studio albums, including the most recent release, Heart-Shaped Mountain. Their accolades are endless; they’ve made appearances on “Conan,” played massive festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits and been named NPR’s “Song of the Day.” However, it hasn’t been without hardship. The band lost the initial recording of their latest album in a hardware crash that wiped out the whole first session, and they lost the original drummer Lennon Bone when he decided to pursue a production career.

Yet, throughout hardship, the band hasn’t lost its grip on the style that is Ha Ha Tonka. More than anything, they’ve maintained their signature goofiness that captured audiences’ hearts from the start. So, what better place for them to showcase their Missouri roots than this fall in Stephens Lake Park?

This will mark their first appearance at the festival, but these Missouri guys will have the hometown advantage. Be on the look out for lots of five-part harmonizing and that southern Missouri sound as Ha Ha Tonka makes their Roots N Blues debut this fall.

photo via bloodshot records

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