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Twangfest marks its 21st year in St. Louis, celebrating Americana’s wide variety in the heartland

This week marks the 21st annual Twangest, a local music festival celebrating Americana music at Old Rock House.
This week marks the 21st annual Twangest, a local music festival celebrating Americana music at Old Rock House.

This year marks the 21st for Twangfest, a local music festival drawing national and local bands to Off Broadway in south St. Louis to celebrate Americana music.

For organizer John Wendland, this year’s festival (featuring bands like Black Joe Lewis, Chuck Prophet and Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards) feels like it has finally matured.

“You know, it took a while, but here we are,” Wendland told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter.

Wendland, who himself is a performer and part of three other bands including Rough Shop and The Wilhelms, said the idea for the music festival grew out of a music listserv group which included band members and writers from across the country. They wanted to pick a location for the festival in the middle of the country. That place was St. Louis and, since its inception, the festival has remained here.

Melinda Cooper, who is the band leader and songwriter for Town Cars, has never performed in the festival before, although she has attended. This year her band is part of the lineup. She said she could not imagine a better place for Twangfest to be centered.

She describes her band as “loud.”

“We’re definitely a rock band,” Cooper said. “There’s some pop in there. There’s a little bit of twang.”


One of the things that makes St. Louis a great place for this roots festival is that a ton of bands come through the area on cross-country tours.

“Coming from California, you can’t see half the bands there that you’d see in Missouri,” Wendland said. “Everyone comes through here. It is a wealth of riches.”

Wendland wants first-time attendees to know that the festival isn’t a typical picture of twang.

“When it first started, it was mainly people involved with roots rock or alt-country scene,” Wendland said. “But all the producers are fans of all kinds of genres. It is a big tent. We’ve had everything from Sacred Steel bands to African-American church bands, soul, pop, country legends like Billy Joe Shaver to Neko Case. It runs the whole gamut. Even though it says Twang, it is not just country.”

Related Events

What: Twangfest
When: June 7-10, every night, Doors at 7 p.m. and show at 8 p.m.
Where: Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.