MOUNT VERNON — When Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey went to Nashville looking for a start in the country music business, a duo was the last thing on their minds.
Good thing for country music fans there was at least a glimmer of a chance that would happen.
The two now make up Steel Magnolia, one of the hottest young duos in the country music business. They will be performing Friday at the Knox County Fair, along with Lee Brice, beginning at 8 p.m. at the grandstand stage.
“It never really occurred to us to be in a duo together. I think it was more the people around us who were bringing it up that we sounded really good together,” said Jones. “I had my own solo project and so did Meghan. I was the last person I thought you’d find in a duo, especially with my significant other.
“We’re finding our stride now. Sometimes you just have to step out of your own way and let things that work take place. I think when something feels right, you’ve got to go with it and listen to your heart.”
The pair decided to try it out and got on the second season of CMT’s “Can You Duet?” which they ended up winning. From there, the sky’s been the limit. After signing with Big Machine Records, their debut single, “Keep On Lovin’ You,” made it in the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Their self-titled debut album made it in the top 10 and has spawned hits “Just By Being You (Halo and Wings),” “Last Night Again” and “Without You.” The newest track, “Bulletproof,” will be released soon.
It’s also led to several award nominations for Steel Magnolia. They’ve been nominated for vocal duo awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards, the CMT Music Awards and the American Country Awards.
Jones said the duo bring a wide variety of influences to their music. Jones grew up in Illinois listening to everything from Waylon Jennings and George Strait to Bob Dylan and the Beatles, while Louisiana native Linsey enjoyed strong female artists like Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Whitney Houston and Bonnie Raitt. Steel Magnolia will get an exciting opportunity this fall when they open for McEntire during part of her “All the Women I Am Tour.”
The success has also brought a chance to play on the national stage, including a recent performance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“That was awesome. I lived in Los Angeles for a short time and I lived right by the Jimmy Kimmel show. He actually opened the show the year I lived there (2003),” Jones said. “I would play on my guitar, I was a street musician across the street from him on Hollywood Boulevard. I’d go out there and play the street performer. I remember seeing the awnings he put up and all the red carpet events he had. I was playing for tips with my case open and eating cheeseburgers off the dollar menu.
“It’s cool that I got to stand there and watch the opening of the show and now we’re on his show. That was kind of a cool moment. When we got out there, I was taking the band around and showing them where I used to go.”
Fans coming to Friday’s show can expect a high-energy, fan-involved performance, Jones said. They will play mostly their own songs, sprinkled in with some cover songs and medleys, as well as some acoustic songs. Jones said he likes the closeness of playing at places like the Knox County Fair.
“We’re still building a grassroots thing here. I think that’s very important. Out here on the road at fairs and festivals, we’re making lifelong fans,” he said. “Not being on somebody else’s tour, its allowed us to have our own show and get really tight together and play 60 to 70 to 90 minutes a night instead of a 20-minute slot. It’s really allowed us to grow as an act and kind of do what we want to do and win a lot of fans at the same time.
“I think it’s a great situation. I love trying to make new fans every night. You can make fans in 70 minutes rather than just being seen.”