A new Merschman Seeds catalog arrived at our house a week or so ago with a picture of country artist Jake McVey on the front cover. Inside was Jake’s bio and a CD sharing the artist’s original song, an ode to farming and farmers called GROW.
Two of my favorite topics – agricultural marketing and country music – had clearly
intersected. Of course, it wasn’t the first time marketers had tapped into country music’s popularity with the farm audience. One of my earliest memories of visiting the Farm Progress Show was seeing LeRoy VanDyke perform at the Sperry New Holland booth. Still, I was very intrigued with this connection.
“Maybe you should interview him,” suggested my husband Dan as he leaned over our kitchen table reading about Jake. A few days later I had Jake on the phone. I asked him why he wanted to be on the cover of a seed catalog.
“I grew up detasseling corn, baling hay and walking beans,” he said. Jake was raised on a farm near Mediapolis in southeast Iowa. He explained how that background has helped fuel his music career. “When you grow up in a small town in the Midwest, where there aren’t multiple Fortune 500 companies advertising for jobs with benefits, you have to learn to hustle.”
During high school, Jake played in a country band and attended a school in Phoenix after graduation to learn the art of guitar making. He later operated a guitar store in Iowa for a few years before his passion for performing won out. “I sold everything I had and bought a tour bus and hit the road,” he explained.
Jake has been crisscrossing the country, playing about 250 shows a year, ever since. Along the way he moved to Nashville where he realized talent alone doesn’t necessarily translate into success in the music business. “Everybody can sing and play but you’ve got to prove yourself and work your tail off,” he said. Jake’s manager urged him to, “write your roots and where you came from” which led to GROW.
Meanwhile, Merschman was looking for an opportunity to connect with a country artist and contacted Jake. “The next thing you know we’ve got billboards up that say GROW on them and seed guides that went out to several thousand folks all over the Midwest,” Jake explained.
Joe Merschman is the president and CEO of the family-owned, independent seed company based in West Point, IA. He liked GROW because it fits the company’s desire to grow and help farmers grow their business and yields. “We also know that country music is very much listened to by our customer base of farmers,” Joe said.
So far, the company has distributed 100,000 seed guides with Jake’s picture, in addition to creating billboards and a radio campaign promoting the song. They’ve also offered free downloads of GROW on their website here.
“Music and brands kind of go together,” summed Joe. “We can help Jake and Jake can help us so it is a good marriage.”
Keep track of Jake McVey’s tour dates at Bandsintown here. A few upcoming dates:
- August 18 – Barefoot Bar, Okoboji, IA
- August 19 – Palo Fun Days, Palo, IA
- August 20 – Barefoot Bar, Okoboji, IA
- August 24 – The Q, Dubuque, IA
- August 26 – Old Settlers, Salem, IA
- August 30 – Old Threshers Reunion, Mount Pleasant, IA
- August 31 – Paradice Casino, East Peoria, IL
I hope you enjoyed my #KitchenTableChat with Jake McVey. If you are a country artist or songwriter with an interesting story to share, please contact me.
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Thanks to Jake McVey for supplying the photos other than the one at the top which I took on my kitchen table.