A familiar voice from country radio found himself back in his home state last weekend, performing for an Ozarks crowd at the Hippopotamus Swim Up Bar. Tyler Farr is originally from Garden City, Missouri and attended what was Southwest Missouri State (now MSU) before taking his talents to Nashville.
“It's always kind of weird coming back home because this is where I was born and raised but I've been in Tennessee for 20 years,” Farr said. “I moved to Nashville when I was 21 but I’m very familiar with the lake area.”
According to Farr, he called the Lake of the Ozarks home after his first run in Nashville, working just miles from the stage of his Saturday show.
“I moved here when I was about 23 and I worked at a children’s rehabilitation facility called Calo [Programs] just down the road from here for about a year, so it’s pretty cool to be back,” he added.
When asked about his experience at Missouri State he let out a whistle, "Well we're going to have to leave a few subjects out,” he laughed.
Farr went to the Springfield college for three years. It was there that he experienced a few failures and did what every college student sets out to do – learned his passion.
“I failed a fly fishing class and the only thing I had to do was show up to the final, which was really just showing up to the river to fly fish… so I failed a fly fishing class. ” he laughed.
“But to be honest, like that's where I started playing guitar to attract the ladies, which didn't really work then, but it intrigued me.”
Prior to picking guitar on the Phi Delta Theta front porch, Farr’s musical experience stemmed from his time in choir in middle school and his step father Dwayne Phillips, who played lead guitar for George Jones.
“My mom married Dwayne when I was 16 and George pretty much adopted him when he was around 12. He played for him for 20 years and I'll be honest, I didn't really know who George Jones was at the time,” Farr recalled.
The summer after he turned 16, Farr spent time on the road with his step father and the country music legend, quickly acquainting himself with the country rockabilly sound.
“I just remember he had fake looking hair and had a hairstylist… and that he was a big deal because people showed up everywhere,” he said. “That's what kind of put the country music bug in me. That's what made me love traditional country music.”
During his time in college, Jones made a stop at the Live Music Capital of the World and Farr jumped at the opportunity to share his love for the genre.
“I remember being at Missouri State and taking a couple of my fraternity brothers to a show in Branson at the Grand Palace and they were in awe,” he smiled. “‘They couldn’t believe my stepdad played for George Jones.”
Aside from the friends and experiences, Farr said he misses a few other Springfield staples when he’s out of the Show Me State.
“Oh, I miss cashew chicken and I miss Jordan’s Creek,” he said. “Just put that in there, they’ll know. That's where we all used to go, and I used to sneak into it. There was a dude that sold hotdogs out there… Those are some great memories.”
Since his career picked up and Farr became the first artist signed to Jason Aldean’s Night Train Records/BBR Music Group, he’s added three No. 1 songs to his resume (“Redneck Crazy,” “Whiskey in My Water,” and “A Guy Walks Into a Bar”) along with becoming the only solo male country artist in the past decade to have their first two studio albums debut in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 Chart.
However, his favorite moment as a performing artist came from a supporting gig he played a few years back.
“My favorite moment in my career so far was opening up for Hank Williams Jr. I'm a huge Hank Jr. fan... I couldn't tell you the city he was in but it was just kind of surreal,” he said.
“This is the guy that I listened to after I got into old school country, the guy that influenced me… and I got to open up for him. I didn't know what to expect from him but I guess he was exactly like I expected him to be," he laughed. "Just a damn wildcard. It was awesome."
Farr spent his time before the show at the Regalia Hotel & Conference Center with his band on a good old fashioned Missouri float trip.
“We had a day off and we floated the Current River… my guitar player tried to drown my tour manager/front of house guy but besides that… nothing happened. It was pretty relaxing.”
The crowd at the Regalia enjoyed the largest swim up bar in the midwest and a spacious pit in front of the stage area with ample patio seating. The venue was filled with country music fans and even a few friends of the main act. Farr’s family also made the trip to the lake, surprising him with a visit before the show.
“I’m always nervous being back home because you got people that expect you to do good… you done moved to Nashville… you got a record deal... got some hits... but it's not even about that,” he said.
“I just don't want to let them down. You know, I gotta be good."