[FEATURE] The Maness Brothers Got One on the Line

The thing about catching a prize catfish is that you have to get comfortable with a fight. They’re sludge dwellers, they’re pull-like-hell-ers, and scores of them get caught out of Missouri’s rivers, lakes, and streams throughout the year.

So it was earlier this season, when I came across an Ozarks public media piece on a state record spoonbill*, that I last thought long and hard about the fierce, cathartic music of the Maness Brothers.

Unapologetically Midwestern and no strangers to the struggle, Dave and Jake Maness have been riffing and growling their way into the hearts of St. Louis music fans for the better half of a decade.

The Maness Brothers: Dave (l) and Jake (r). Photo: Nate Burrell

They’ve stuffed a hatchback with gear and transported their craft across state lines over and over, picking up buds and allies along the way. (Many of whom visit STL each year to play the guys’ storied Whiskey War Festival.)

And 2012’s memorable, rough hewn Grief Factory EP presented the duo as young men exploring the myth and mysticism of our confluence city’s topography and human characters, with generous nods to its expansive blues history.

oh hey see what’s on the cover

Five years later, the Maness Brothers are poised to release their self-titled debut album, a 6-track bluesy scorcher that laments the real-life, wonder-less worries of grown men: dead-end jobs, would-be saviors, mortality, and the like.

They recently signed to Romanus Records, a label that’s been home to other burgeoning rockers like the Pack AD and Turbo Fruits. Perpetually forward-thinking, the debut will be released in a classic wax format with modern flair, featuring custom, multi-color offerings via WaxMage and sand-filled specialties from Romanus:


wow lookit these

Serious musicians but also serious party masters, the Maness Brothers have secured Off Broadway for an afternoon and into-the-night release show featuring local luminaries and some favorite friends from the road. It all goes down on Saturday, April 15th (worldwide album release is April 16th):

‘If I get stuck in this goddamn job I’m gonna lose my mind,’ the guys wrote driving home from one particular tour, as they headed back toward the reality of a daily grind. The line wound up on the track “End of Me” from their forthcoming record, along with this:

Well I ain’t going back to it all…
I ain’t going back to it all…
Not without a fight

2017 finds the Maness Brothers standing at a precipice. Will these River City boys continue to spread their musical gospel of sludge, drudge, and desire across the nation? Across the world?

All I know is they’ve got a lunker of an album on the line, and I’m just here to watch them reel it in.



*A spoonbill catfish (or paddle fish) is not a catfish at all. It’s a gentle, filter feeding giant that looks like a leftover water dinosaur and is highly coveted in the same areas as legit Missouri catfish. Paddle fish snagging season in MO is Mid-March to the end of April. These facts had no bearing on my recollection of the Maness Bros’ music. 


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