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August 2, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Matt Stell didn’t dream of becoming a rock star when he was young. The boy from central Arkansas grew up consumed by basketball. After juggling time between his rural home state and the metropolitan areas of Florida, he made his way to Drury University to play the sport and study philosophy and religion.
Stell first plucked his way into the world of music in the college town of Springfield, Mo. He started out strumming guitar and singing old blues and country songs, and when the Snorty Horse Saloon opened 30 minutes west in Mount Vernon, Stell started performing live.
Where: Snorty Horse Saloon
Now with three other band members, Stell tours the South and the Midwest to play an amalgam of country, soul and blues.
“I love all kinds of music,” Stell says. “Growing up in two different places has given me an eclectic taste for sure.”
Because of his range of influences, Stell’s original songs fit somewhere between the sounds of Jason Aldean and Adam Hood. Stell’s lyrics are original, and his notes are catchy. He compares love to liquor in “Shirt” with the lines “A sip, will make you feel fine/But too much it turns into poison/And it’ll rot a man from the inside.”
Although this twangy tune feels like a song sung fireside, Stell’s diversity emerges in the bluesy bass of “Troubles,” which stings to the bottom of the stomach. His distinct music coupled with his high-energy performances cast a net over a variety of music lovers.
“If you’re into lyrics and want to sing along, there’s something there for you,” Stell says. “If you wanna just dance and blow off some steam from a long work week, then you can do that. It’s fun and actually has some content.”
For Stell, the fun is what’s important. A lively crowd makes the stage a more comfortable place to be, he says. For this reason, Stell is looking forward to his Aug. 4 show. Coming full circle from his first days in Mount Vernon, Stell will take the stage at the Snorty Horse Saloon in Columbia.
“I really like Columbia,” Stell says. “The people I’ve met there are really great. There’s a passion for music in that town, and it’s refreshing.”