Complimentary Nuts were unfamiliar with the Sedalia music scene before their show on Saturday at Good Time Charlie’s on the state fairgrounds — a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri — but those in the audience probably felt right at home.
Just like the Nace Brothers, perhaps the most beloved cover band in Sedalia and Warrensburg, the Lake of the Ozarks-based Complimentary Nuts have the uncommon setup of a drummer who is also the lead singer.
“I try not to think about one of them,” James O’Neal quipped when asked about the challenges of fronting a band while also serving as the back-of-the-stage foundation.
“I really try not to think about the drums,” the Camdenton-based drummer said. “When you’re playing a Paul Simon song that Steve Gadd is the original drummer on, you’ve got to simplify something. I’ve been doing it since I was 12 and now I’m 42 and, you know, it’s just second nature now. If I had to think about what I was doing, it’d be very difficult. None of us are that smart.”
Complimentary Nuts — which is rounded out by bassist Ed Tucker, of Eldon; lead guitarist Keith Lanig, of Columbia; and trumpet player and keyboardist Dave Payne, of Linn Creek — formed about a decade ago.
“It started out as a deal where we were filling in for a band that couldn’t seem to keep their obligations to their gigs,” O’Neal said. “So we’d get a phone call, and we’d put something together and go on stage. It got to be so regular that we thought we ought to actually have a name if we’re going to keep doing this. So every set we were something else. I think one set we were Space Junk. But it came around to Complimentary Nuts.”
The band largely eschews blues music, which is part of why they hadn’t caught on in Sedalia, where the centerpiece music club is a blues bar.
“We play vacation rock and roll,” O’Neal said. “We play a lot of Lake of the Ozarks shows, and we play to people who are mainly happy. That’s why you’re not gonna hear a lot of blues from us; you can have the blues on your own time. This setting here is very much like the type of crowd we’d play to at the lake — from 8 to 80. We don’t just lock into one thing.”
In addition to the gigs at lakeside clubs, Complimentary Nuts peppers a fair number of fundraisers onto its schedule.
“We want to give back to the community because we know what goes around comes around,” O’Neal said. “There’s a spiritual base to the band that’s bigger than just the gig or the check. And if it’s not bigger than that, we shouldn’t be doing it.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri executive director Brett Barth-Fagan, who shared bartending duties with a handful of employees and volunteers on Saturday, was happy that he could bring a fresh band to the Sedalia scene while also raising funds.
“I’m really tickled,” he said. “They’re a great band, they’ve got a good variety of music, and I love the brass.”
Early in the evening, Barth-Fagan was in a good mood because he knew the club would at least break even on the day’s costs.
“We also had a hot dog deal out at the poker run this morning, and just off of the hot dog sales, we’re close to even going into tonight. So it’s a success from a fundraising standpoint. I look forward to the (Mid-Missouri Outlaws) game (at the nearby Mathewson Exhibition Center) getting over so some of those folks will come over.”
In addition to bringing a new band to town and raising money essential to the club’s continued operations, the event also brought the fairgrounds — which largely resembles a ghost town 11 months of the year — to life for one night. Good Time Charlie’s owner Charlie Benny donated use of his facility, and beer and soda vendors donated a fair amount of stock.
“It’s kind of like a little fair in June,” Barth-Fagan said. “It’s very cool. You miss the big lights of the midway, but you’ve got a nice cool breeze and a good night.”