May 1—A familiar face will be performing at a familiar local stomping ground Thursday night.
Sean Harrison, long associated with booking bands for Downstream Casino and Resort, now finds himself on the other side of the microphone. Late last year, his debut album dropped; "Halfway from Nashville" is a mixture of 12 country-western, folk and rock songs.
He was itching to perform live in Joplin in early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic quickly canceled those plans. Now, he's excited to perform live at Wilder's Event Center, formerly the Kitchen Pass.
"I saw some terrific shows there," Harrison said of the South Main Street location. "I think of it as a storied part of Joplin's history, certainly its live music history. My favorite memory of the Kitchen Pass was when Monte Montgomery came through back in about 2009, I think. I have heard the music legends of our region, people like Earl Cate and Gary Hutchinson, talk about the great shows they played at Kitchen Pass. So I don't know whether I deserve to play this venue or if it's appropriate, but I am very honored to be doing it."
Harrison said Joplin and the surrounding Southwest Missouri communities will always be considered a part of his home base, despite the fact that he was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and lives in Northwest Arkansas.
"I worked for Quapaw Nation and Downstream for 13 years, and I stayed in a Joplin apartment through the work week for about 10 years, driving back and forth weekly from Fayetteville (Arkansas)," the 61-year-old said. "I made a lot of friends through work ... so, yeah, this is sort of a homecoming. Joplin and its people will be a part of me from now on. I mean, we went through a tornado together, right?"
His 7 p.m. concert, packaged with a recent concert held at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, will likely be his only local shows scheduled for 2021, and there's a reason for that.
"I think of my show more as a concert than a bar act because it consists almost entirely of my original songs, so, for the same reason, I wouldn't expect people to come hear me more than about once a year in any given town," he said. "My plan to is to go far and wide and play small shows in numerous places."
The phrase "wandering troubadour" has been associated with Harrison's music.
"Labels probably don't mean all that much. But if those music writers mean 'troubadour' — as in a folk singer, storyteller, traveler — then yes, that probably fits," he said.
"My music is classified in the Americana genre. That covers a lot: country, folk, roots, blues (and) country-rock," he continued. "I think of myself as a Southern songwriter. I had many conversations with people in Joplin about whether we were in the South or the Midwest. Well ... I'm definitely a Southerner. In terms of my songs, I like the storytelling style."
The concert will be mixture of new and old songs.
"I'll play acoustic guitar and sing and try to remember all my words," Harrison said with a laugh. "I'm working up part of the show to include some songs that influenced me while growing up. It's not a set of dancing songs, although a lot of them are uptempo. It's the ol' troubadour thing, right?"
Tickets are $10 at the door, and COVID-19 safety precautions — masks, social distancing, etc. — will be in full effect. Joining him onstage will be musicians Michael Brinson and his oldest son, Elijah.
"There are songs that'll make you laugh and songs that'll make you cry and make you think," he said. "I will have a good time playing, and I think it will be fun for everyone."
For more information about Harrison and his music, visit www.seanharrisonsongs.com.