November 23rd I packed up my camera gear and started a 5 hour round trip journey to catch some photos of one guy playing for about an hour. The Talk Shop Lounge in St Charles, Iowa was my destination and Josh Morningstar was the reason for the trip. It wasn’t my first time seeing Josh but this time I got to experience it through my camera lens and the few hours I spent there was well worth the time spent traveling.
That particular Saturday night he stood alone on the stage with just his guitar in his hands, hoodie up, and ran through a variety of well thought out stories that he’s put to music. Among the set list are a number of great songs including Jerry Lee, Pulling Weeds, Damn These Birds, The Weed song, Must be the Whiskey, and possibly my favorite, Brand New Day.
He doesn’t talk much but when he does it’s generally lighthearted banter with the audience or, to open up about the origins of a song, which is always from the heart and, a welcome experience for those of us in the audience.
Josh says between a couple of songs “I’m not a guitar player, or a singer, I’m a songwriter”, and that my just tell you everything you need to know about him and his music. Troy Thrailkill of Atomic Music Group, the guy responsible for booking Josh many, many times at the venue, explained to the nearly full room that “This is a listening room and we expect you to listen.” It allowed for Josh to present his songs in the way he intended which, sometimes included him singing at nearly a whisper and you find yourself leaning in to really focus on the words of the songs
That’s not always the case and as Josh posted recently on social media, he keeps the hoodie up because…”It helps me find my “zone” by being able to retreat inside of it; eyes closed, hoodie up, it makes me feel “sheltered”
I guess you could say. It allows me to find the emotion in whatever song I’m singing and focus on that, as opposed to focusing on the people who feel like whatever they have to say is the most important thing in the world and everybody at the show wants to hear it.”
Besides preforming his own music in live settings, Josh also has a ton of songwriting credits to his name with a variety of incredible musicians. Most recently he knocked out an impressive 6 writing/co-writing credits on the two most recent Cody Jinks albums released a week apart in October, After the Fire and The Wanting.
Among the numerous accolades for those 2 albums are, #1 Country album on iTunes and #1 Country Album Sold in the US for the respective weeks they were released and for each album.
Josh has spent a lot of years on the craft of songwriting and each time I see him preform it’s more razor sharp than the previous encounter If you are lucky enough to have him traveling through your area, grab a ticket and listen to him preform. His shows are intimate, personal, and well worth the time that you spend with him as he puts his heart on his sleeve and tells you some fantastic stories.
Visit his website, Josh Morningstar, to see what he’s up to and where he’s headed.