Brothers Osborne stay humble

Brothers Osborne have climbed the country charts the past few years with their hit singles "Rum" and "Stay a Little Longer," landing them a worthy spot as opener for Maddie and Tae at the spring concert. John and TJ Osborne hail from the small fishing town of Deal, Maryland where they grew up singing and playing music. “We’ve just been around it our entire lives,” John said. “We’ve probably been playing music since we were seven or eight years old.” The brothers draw inspiration from many different artists from several genres across the map. TJ lists many classic country artists as the band’s top influences. “We are constantly still inspired by artists, I mean we grew up listening to the greats,” TJ said. “I mean, obviously, Merle Haggard is, I think, every country person’s idol, Bruce Springsteen, to just really all over the map.” The array of artists that influence the band impacts their style and sound, which John describes a mix of several different genres mashed into country. “[Our sound] is just a collection of a lot of things,” John said. “We grew up listening to all types of music, everything from old pop songs and country songs, old rock, new rock, jazz, blue grass, so it’s a little bit of everything.” The mix of styles is carried over into their first studio album "Pawn Shop," released January 15, 2016. “If you listen to our record "Pawn Shop," you’ll hear that we certainly come from quite a few different places and backgrounds, but it’s very organic, very risky and very raw,” John said. Their third single of the album, "Stay a Little Longer," made it to number four on the US country charts. TJ describes the single and how it ties the album together. “Every song on [Pawn Shop], whether it’s our single ‘Stay a Little Longer,’ which is kind of a different angle on a love song where it’s not about being in love or out of love, it’s that weird in-between phase, and our whole record is a bunch of variations of, in our minds, unique ways of saying something the way we would say it.” The brothers co-wrote all of the tracks on the album and promoted their first few singles while on tour with artists such as Darius Rucker and Eric Church. Their newest single, "21 Summer," will be released shortly, just in time for the brothers to go on tour with fellow country artist Miranda Lambert. “We haven’t been on tour with Miranda yet, but we’ve had some really great opening slots with Eric Church being one, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town,” John said. “When looking for those types of people, especially artists you genuinely look up to and respect, you learn a lot from them.” The band encourages all of their fans to look them up on social media, where they love interacting with all of their followers. You can also check tour dates and updates on their website at

Talking about Ferguson

The events that happened in Ferguson, Missouri will never be forgotten by the country. Missouri Western held a political science forum entitled “Speaking of Ferguson” with Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch presenting as the speaker. McCulloch was the man who decided to take the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson case to a grand jury instead of having a trial. The local NAACP chapter worked with the local prosecutors office to invite McCulloch to come to Missouri Western to speak about what happened in Ferguson. Having already done several talks on the subject, McCulloch agreed to travel to St. Joseph. Political Science professor Dr. Melinda Kovács arranged for his talk to be the next political science forum held at the university. “It is an inherently controversial and contested field that we discuss, and so we don’t shy away from saying we need to have conversations around the difficult topics,” Kovács said. Being that the events that happened in Ferguson are controversial and emotional, the talk was set up to ensure a safe and civilized discussion. McCulloch gave a presentation with a power point, explaining the location and sequence of events the day that Michael Brown died, along with how the legal side of things worked. The audience was encouraged to come up with questions to ask McCulloch. They were asked to raise their hands, and student volunteers brought them note cards to write down their questions. “The topic is such that it will undoubtedly cause a lot of emotion, but we want to have a conversation. Will not have a shouting match, because the problem with shouting matches is they give you the emotional catharsis, but they shut down the conversation. You never get answers to your questions and we want tonight to be about answers,” Kovács said. After McCulloch's presentation was finished, Kovács read the questions from the audience. The questions the audience asked started out focusing on what the legal side of the issues are, what happened to the officer in question and what determines when using force is okay. The questions at the end turned more personal and shifted toward racial issues. The audience wanted to know what whether or not McCulloch thought that Officer Wilson was guilty. “No. based on all the evidence in this case. I believe he acted in self defense,” McCulloch said. During his presentation McCulloch frequently referred to the physical evidence in the case. It showed that Michael brown was shot seven or eight times; he was over the legal intoxication limit with THC in his system and that his DNA was in the officers car. “Physical evidence doesn't change, physical evidence doesn't duck under a car when shots are being fired, physical evidence doesn't worry about what the media thinks,” McCulloch said. Missouri Western's Chief of Police Yvonne Meyer spoke about the negative impact that social media had specifically on this case. “Unfortunately I think we have become so attuned to social media, Yik Yak, Facebook. Whatever happens in those types of media centers, people tend to believe it. It's gossip basically. And so when presented the facts of the case, I think it is kind of difficult for people to accept it because in their mind they’ve been told repeatedly it's something else over and over again. It's reaffirmed by what they see on TV and when it's all actually laid out sometimes that becomes difficult to believe,” Meyer said. Another question that was asked by an audience member was, “Just from your language alone today it doesn’t seem that you understand black culture, why should anyone believe that you were interested in truly representing a black man?” McCulloch responded to that question very simply. “I almost resent that question, because a major part of my life, my adult life, has been helping victims of crime. It's insulting to suggest that I don’t care about that, it's just nonsense. I have no regrets and I treat victims very well and they are my first priority. If I can't convince you otherwise, that’s fine. I certainly have no regrets about what I've done,” McCulloch said. There are many different view points in the country and everyone has the right to be heard. The political science forums that Missouri Western puts on are important for this very reason. Having this opportunity to talk and hear about what happened in Ferguson was important for students because it very timely with what kind of issues the United States is facing. “It is important to talk about because the events in Ferguson have become a symbol and an emblem for race relations in the United States. Whoever lives in the U.S. today has to somehow be aware that there are different approaches to race relations,” Kovács said.

Maddie and Tae headline spring concert

Country duo Maddie and Tae are flying to the top of the charts with their debut album "Start Here," which they performed at the Civic Arena on Saturday, April 16. Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye graced Missouri Western students and the St. Joseph community with a live concert, featuring their hit singles "Girl in a Country Song" and "Shut Up and Fish." The duo have performed with several popular country artists including Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore and Little Big Town, but say they love doing small-town shows. “There's something really special about a smaller venue,” the duo said. “It's intimate and we can actually see the the different emotions on our fan's faces, we love that!” Right now, Maddie and Tae are on tour with country artist Lee Brice, whom they say they have learned a lot from. “The more we perform, the more we learn, especially being out with Lee and seeing how passionate he is on stage is very inspiring to us,” Maddie and Tae said. “We want to leave everything we have on the stage just like he does, and being on the road is an adventure in itself, so we've gotten some great song concepts from that.” Speaking of great song concepts, Maddie and Tae are working hard to promote their latest album "Start Here," which was released August 28, 2015. The group discussed that the main concept behind this album is something very important to them. “The common thread in "Start Here" is definitely honesty,” they said. “Authenticity is something that we always hope to capture and achieve throughout all aspects of our career.” Another concept throughout the album is the topic of bro-country, or modern country music taking on pop, rock and hip hop influences, and how the duo are working to promote feminism in country music while sticking to the original country roots. “We think everyone should make music they love and are proud of, but degrading women should never be okay,” they said. “We see that negative trend slowing fading away and it feels great.” Maddie and Tae will be on tour with Brad Paisley starting in May, but until then they plan on focusing on writing new music for their second album, releasing their fourth single off "Start Here" and planning a fall tour.

Seniors exhibit art

Any student who needs a pleasant distraction from the dooming finals week can stop by the second senior art exhibit that opened last Friday in Potter Art Gallery. Seniors from the art department showcase their accomplishments and what they have learned during their time at Missouri Western during the week-long exhibition. Laura Buhman, a former employee at Western, likes to come visit her old employer and enjoy student performances. “It’s exciting to see it come full circle, kind of with the first art shows they do in the first few years and then see them when they’re graduating seniors,” Buhman said. Rebecca Foley, associate professor of art and gallery director, is happy with the turnout and convinced that the exhibit offers many benefits for the students. “The students helped put up their work, so they got the experience of putting together a show as well as being in it,” Foley said. “This is a chance for the seniors to show their work in a professional setting.” According to Foley, the show exhibits a wide range of art styles, including graphic design, digital animation, photography, painting, sculpture and print making by 20 students. Senior Jessica Hill tried her hand on wood carving for the first time and exhibited two of her pieces. Hill, who would like to build movie sets one day, said she enjoyed being part of the show and trying new things. “I feel that as an artist, all you have to do is create,” Hill said. The exhibit is open until April 22. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is free of charge.

Spring concert rock Civic Arena

Maddie and Tae headlined this year's spring concert with openers Brothers Osborne and Nine Miles to Nowhere, giving country music fans a fun night of music and dancing. Nearly 1,200 tickets were sold for the concert, with about 300 of those belonging to Missouri Western students. Chair of Concert, Dylan Barnes, says the Western Activities Council (WAC) was pleased with the turnout at this year's show. "I actually think it went really well," Barnes said. "I was actually surprised by how much of the community came out. Student wise, we had roughly about three hundred students, but we had twelve hundred to thirteen hundred total, which I thought was really well." The good turn out could be linked to the genre of music chosen. Last semester, WAC released a survey to see which type of artist the students most wanted to see, with the ending result being country. "Usually country we do the best turn out of any other genre that we do, so I mean I look forward to seeing what the new e-board does next year with what we have," Barnes said. The overall reaction from the concert was positive, with audience members saying all three of the musical acts sounded great, were full of energy and gave an exciting performance for the students and community members. "From the reaction, I could tell that everyone really liked the concert. It went really well and hopefully it will just get better from here for next years," Barnes said. At this time WAC doesn't have any information about next year's event, but they will be releasing another survey for students next fall to vote on the genre of music the student body would most like to see.