Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The city motto of Joplin, Missouri, a town of 50,000-some people in the southwest corner of the state, is a simple if but trite one. It goes, "Proud of our past…shaping our future." Any city could claim the same phrase as its own and many probably have, but the second part of it took on new meaning just over a week ago, when one of the most devastating tornadoes in United States history literally wiped the city out. It demolished most everything that any of the people living there had worked their entire lives for and in a matter of seconds, that satanic funnel of uncompromising wind and fury leveled hearts and spirits - some to levels that may never be recovered from. Some news reports coming from the morning after the storm hit, around dinnertime, on the day after judgment day was supposed to have taken control of the sinners and the saints, told the stories of just how disoriented the people from the city where Christofer Drew and his band Never Shout Never call home were just after everything had changed. One man described how he'd emerged from his basement to see the ravaged landscape only to feel his instincts kick in to respond to the voices he heard coming from beneath walls and what was left of kitchens, roofs, bathrooms, man caves, etc. He began to run around a place that had been his familiar neighborhood, going where he was needed, to help out his fellow sufferers and when he finally got to a point where he wasn't hearing any more distress signals, he planned to return back to where his home used to be, to see what he could salvage. When he attempted to do so, he couldn't find where he used to sleep or bathe, even though he was only a few blocks away. There were no street signs, no familiar markers, no houses or anything that had always been used as sight guides - often unconsciously - in the past. He literally had no idea where he was. He was completely lost in his own neighborhood, in his own city. Drew and his bandmates have gathered together at his home in Joplin since the tornado changed everything for most everyone. They're all find and doubtless finding ways that they can help their fellow townspeople in this time of great need, in this time of a grand picking up, where most belongings exist in an abstract memory, scattered violently to some distant county. A song here in this session is titled, "Homesick Blues," and while its intentions focus on the road and that deep-down need and urging that most everyone has at some point in their lives - to get back to the place that they're from, to go back to the girl next door that the loved first, when they were in elementary or middle school, to rekindle what it meant to be of a place - the song seems oddly relevant to that constructed pride that whatever founding fathers or mothers of the town, or marketing experts may have felt when they came up with the city's motto, whenever that happened. One thing that is for sure is that it was concocted in better times and those in the band are hoping to see their hometown in better times again soon. They've set up a way for those who would like to help donate to those who have been affected by this catastrophe. You can dial the number 50555 and text the code JOMO to contribute. Joplin, Missouri, needs the love right now and it will for a long time.