Ozark Serenade: RFT readers share memories of the once wild punk-rock scene in Springfield and Joplin

Jan 28, 2009 at 4:00 am


Ozark Serenade

Those were the days: Great article ["Anarchy in the Ozarks," Ben Westhoff]. It has been almost ten years since I left Springfield, and nothing can compare to the times I had there playing music. All bands should start out like we did, playing for eight people at a coffee shop that would charge the bands 50 cents for a glass of water — and playing music way, way too loud for said coffee shop. Every punk rock scene has its grassroots, DIY part. But in Springfield, not only did you have to book your own shows, but you had to worry about the local skins and crazy crap like that.
Tim Brouk, Lafayette, Indiana, via the Internet

No skinheads in Joplin: It's really interesting that there is no mention of two equally "artful" entities that influenced all the mentioned artists from Joplin. Not one word about Vaginal Discharge or Mike Horman. As I recall V.D. opened for every act in town and Mike Horman (a poet, no less!) opened for Big Bad Chubba one night as well. He made his poetry known throughout the Ozarks by winning slams and organizing more poetry nights than you could shake a stick at. Also, I personally never saw any racial stuff go down. The Culture Shock was the center for everything back then, and I don't ever remember there being any "skins" there. That was a Springfield problem.
Jason Bringle, Portland, Oregon, via the Internet

What's your problem, Dan Johnston!?: Whatever Dan Johnston's frustrations are (perhaps the pressures of once being punk rock, now having to play grown-up), Springfield does not deserve the abuse he gives it in this article. The point of the piece, rather, seems to be to illustrate the perhaps surprising strength of the '90s punk-music scene in Springfield. Why then, must the same city be accused of being "miserable," "isolated," "ignorant and backwoods" — and "Republican-crazy-Christian-Protestant nutballs?" Springfield may not be as ready-made cool as New York, London or University City, but we're not all a bunch of inbred Bible-thumping racists here, either.
Local Yokel, Springfield, Missouri, via the Internet

Johnston responds: The frustrations I voiced were for Joplin in the early '90s, not Springfield then or now. Why else would I move here if I were still unhappy? I guess that did not come out in the article. Also, just for the record, I don't have a problem "growing up." I love my family and my job. There are no regrets. My frustrations were with growing up in Joplin in the early '90s, not with Springfield. Springfield was my first haven and getaway from my hometown as early as 1992. I love Springfield; otherwise I would not have moved my family here. The comments of "miserable," "isolated," "ignorant and backwoods" etc., were all comments that are reserved for Joplin fifteen years ago. This is not communicated well in this article. I can appreciate your regional loyalties, as I share them as well.
Dan Johnston, Springfield, Missouri, via the Internet


Sign of Trouble

What do you expect?: You move next to an interstate highway and want a peaceful refuge ["Sign of the Times," Kristen Hinman]? That's like moving next to an airport and wanting quiet. There is a reason those houses are cheaper. No sympathy here; the highway was here before he was.
Raoul0057, St. Louis, via the Internet

So just move: That's what you get for moving into the slums of Frontenac!! Sell it and move to north city if you don't like the progress.
Michael, St. Louis, via the Internet

Silly complaint: I can't imagine having any less sympathy for someone than an individual living in Frontenac and complaining about a sign. This story typifies the frivolousness of "first-world" problems.
Dean, via the Internet

Please sign off: To Mr. Purviance, whose comment was, "Why not place it down by the trailer park, just west of Spoede? That would have been a good location, and still west of Lindbergh." I would like to know what makes that a better location, in your opinion. Because it's a trailer park, does that mean that the families living there are somehow less important than those in your neighborhood? How thoughtless and rude, though typical of most people today. Perhaps that is what's wrong with the world today — everyone thinking only of himself.
Cindy T, Ballwin, via the Internet