40 Acre back from Tennessee trip, looking to parlay experience

ST. MARYS — One local band is riding success down to Nashville and back to the area.

40 Acre, a country music act out of St. Marys headed by singer and guitarist Josh Barnes, recently returned from a small tour of Tennessee bars.

“It was successful,” Barnes said. “We always measure success in whether we get asked back, and we got asked back, so that’s important to us. It was fun, and we got to meet a lot of cool people. We got some cool photos and things like that. We got better as a band, which is a win-win all around. We were glad to do it and it was a blast.”

40 Acre is on Facebook at facebook.com/jjmzbandk and on Instagram. In addition to Barnes on lead vocals and acoustic, Justin McBride is on lead guitar, Luke Yahl is on bass and Jodi Poff is on drums.

Even though the band, which was at one time called the Jojo McZunk Band, comes from humble beginnings and is making moves, it is in no hurry to abandon the Lima area or its style of country cover performances.

“We’ve been together since the fall of 2017, and we play a lot of top 40 country hits that people know,” Barnes said. “We play both new stuff from Luke Bryan and Luke Combs, as well as Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr. and Garth Brooks. We’re a four-piece band, and we’ve been doing it in the Auglaize/Mercer/Allen County area for some time now.”

Barnes said the band started playing in church together at Wayne Street United Methodist Church in St. Marys.

“We still do that even today,” he said. “However, we started wanting to play more and more, and we’re really good at what we were doing. We all like country music, too.”

Barnes said that even though the band wasn’t ready to branch out quite so far, the members still decided to take a chance.

“It was pretty cool,” Barnes said. “Our drummer, Jodie, does a lot of our booking and sends hundreds of emails, and you might get one back. What happened is we got one in Nashville on a Sunday night called the 404 Bar, and so we tried to make a weekend out of it. From there, we got a connection at a place in Chattanooga called Whiskey Cowgirl, and from that, we got booked at Tootsies. That’s how it worked.”

But even with that taste of the world outside of western Ohio, 40 Acre still loves staying true to its roots.

“We like to bring a little bit of light to life,” Barnes said. “We have no intention really to play these big gigs far away or anything like that. We really just love Allen, Mercer, Auglaize and Hardin and surrounding counties. We were hoping to get some credibility for small-town musicians to get on some pretty big stages. That’s all we set out to accomplish, and I think we did.”

That does not mean 40 Acre is slowing down at all.

“We’ve got four festivals booked this coming summertime,” Barnes said. “We’re playing in Columbus on High Street at a place called Bristol Republic in February. We’ve got a full schedule thanks to places like Zinum and 318 in Lima. We love playing covers instead of original stuff because we want people to sing along and dance and have a good time to music they know.”

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.