The Daily Star Journal

Warrensburg, Missouri

November 2, 2001


“Music, Family And Friend Blend For Nace Brothers”

By Nan Cocke


“Trouble on the Hill” is more than the name of the Nace Brothers’ new CD.  It signals there is a track called “The Ballad of Lizzie Heard” that refers to a little family history that involves a Johnson County murder from many years ago.


And there is another song about a familiar local woman on the CD, “Miss Arzetta.”  That is a tribute to Arzetta Kenyon, a woman who is known to many as a dearly remembered babysitter from their youth.


The next few days promise to be busy ones for them.  Their new CD will be in stores on Nov. 7 and a big CD release party is set for the Uptown Theater in Kansas City on Nov. 9.  The CD, in addition to the songs about local events, contains a good mix, all but one song written by Jimmy Nace.


They also are performing locally for a fund-raising event for Blind Boone Park to be held at the Irle Farm.


Tomorrow night, they will be at the Liberty Center in Sedalia from 9 to midnight.


At least 20 years have passed since the Nace Brothers first took to the stage.  And when they did, they were following in the footsteps of another family performer, their father – Johnny Nace – just a different sound.


Over time they have refined that sound and their style has evolved into what Jimmy Nace refers to as “roots rock.”


“We are glad to be making records and making a living,” Jimmy Nace said.


They do a lot of traveling, 50,000 miles a year and play a lot of dates, more than 200.


While Jimmy plays guitar, brother David plays drums and percussion.  Tim Williams, another local musician, plays bass and fiddle and the newest addition, T.J. Erhardt, is on keyboards.  All perform vocals.


Talking about a couple of the tracks, Jimmy called Miss Arzetta “good people.”  And he said as soon as they heard the tale of murder involving their grandfather’s sister, they knew it had to be turned into a song.


The story is that Lizzie Lamb and Alta Nace had married brothers named Heard.


The murder occurred one June evening two miles northeast of Burtville when Lizzie Heard was fatally stabbed with a case knife by her sister-in-law, Alta Nace Heard.


Jimmy said the rumor was that Lizzie was married to one brother and sleeping with the other.


According to the history of Burtville compiled by Mary Brown Rainey, Alta Heard was freed after the coroner’s jury ruled that Alta Nace Heard had killed the other woman in self defense.


The Burtville history states, “As well as we can learn the murder is the result of a drunken brawl.  A jug of whiskey had been received by express the day of the tragedy and the occasion was being celebrated.”


The women quarreled, the account said.  It said Alta was afraid of her sister-in-law and tried to avoid her, but the other followed her about her home and attacked her.  When Lizzie struck at Alta with an old boot, Alta reportedly struck Lizzie twice with a case knife, cutting her arm and also striking her just below the collar bone and above the rib, severing an artery.  The victim expired immediately, bleeding to death.


The account at the time said the knife hardly looked that is could be made to “do such a deed.  It is simply an old, worn case knife, worn very thing and without a handle.”


Although self-defense had been ruled by the coroner’s jury, a trial later was held and Alta Heard was acquitted.  The account said when the verdict was returned, the parents of the victim cried bitterly.


Just as it did with this story that was turned into lyrics, sometimes the music comes almost automatically.  Jimmy said they already have almost enough material for another CD.


The CD will be available here at Hastings and Sedalia at Seventh Heaven.


The Nace Brothers have become a fixture at Bodie’s when they are off tour.  They play to a varied audience, from the new people just discovering their music to fans of their late father.


“We are just happy to be in the business,” Jimmy said.  “Hopefully the best is yet to come.  We have sifted out the hard part, I am hoping.”

Back To Reviews