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Smithsonian Institution
Midwestern CrossroadsAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Bottle Rockets

 
Three high-school buddies grew up in Festus, Missouri, an industrial town downriver from St. Louis, listening to Buck Owens records and Aerosmith. Eventually, they put together a band, playing honky-tonk music. There was only one problem: "We have this natural inclination to get excited when we play, and we'll just turn around and turn the amps up," guitarist/singer Brian Henneman says. "We just can't help it. So we were louder than we should have been, more abrasive than we should have been, and we weren't doing anybody any favors." Rejected by their hometown crowd, the boys kept playing for themselves. "We eventually evolved into the Bottle Rockets and went into St. Louis, and nobody told us to turn down; I think everybody is deaf up there. We turned the amps up, and it turned into a whole new thing. There we were, rocking like Aerosmith, playing country songs basically, and that's the thing we have been mining ever since."
       The Bottle Rockets came to national attention along with such other midwestern roots bands as Uncle Tupelo, Wilco and Son Volt, and made their reputation as one of the hardest-edged and most iconoclastic alternative country/rock bands around. Their lyrics are particularly strong, solid storytelling in the classic country tradition, but infused with wry, contemporary insights and underpinned with full-throttle electric power. Their songs cast a harsh and funny light on both small-town life and big city trends, and their recent major-label debut has garnered raves from both alternative rock and country fans.

 
 

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