By Keith Frederick
he first thing you notice about Steel Magnolia members - and real-life engaged couple - Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey is that they aren't anything like the tumultuous music relationships that you so often hear about. They joke, they laugh, they pick on each other; there's no Fleetwood Mac-style drama here.
Joshua Scott Jones and Meghan Linsey are Steel Magnolia.
In a largely cynical industry, Jones and Linsey have somehow managed to work and be in love at the same time.
"We get along pretty well and we don't hold grudges," Linsey, 25, said in a recent joint phone interview from their home in Nashville.
"We just kind of get over stuff and move on. And at the end of the day, we really like each other. We're best friends."
If you go
Who: Steel Magnolia
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: The State Theatre, State College
Tickets: $25, available online at www.thestatetheatre.org, in person at the theater box office and by calling 272-0606
But don't ask them when they'll get married - they aren't saying. And when asked whether they're sick of being asked the question, they both answer before the sentence is finished: "Yes!"
They laugh, then explain.
"I feel a little weird having people wanna know so much," Linsey said. "I think we're pretty much an ordinary couple. We fight, we make up ..."
"We do what we have to do," Jones says, finishing for her.
Steel Magnolia released their self-titled debut album in January and are now touring in support of the disc. They'll perform at 8 p.m. Thursday at The State Theatre in State College.
The duo's origin is nearly more famous than their songs, though Jones and Linsey hope to change that soon. The pair met in Nashville at a karaoke bar, where Linsey worked and Jones came in as a guest. They connected on stage and off quickly and began writing songs together.
Not long after they joined voices as Steel Magnolia, in 2009, they tried out for the second season of the CMT reality show "Can You Duet," a singing competition looking for the next great country duo. They dominated the show and came away the winners, snagging a contract with Big Machine Records and landing their first single, "Keep on Lovin' You," on the Billboard country charts, where it eventually topped out at No. 4.
Following the success of "Keep on Lovin' You," Steel Magnolia released a five-song EP in February 2010 and spent the year hopping from tour to tour, including a summer backing up Brad Paisley on his H2O tour. They finished the year with a slew of nominations from all the major country awards shows.
But they still hadn't put out their real debut album.
"I think we were relieved a little to get the record out," Linsey said. "I think the label was trying to do it strategically. ... It was a little weird being out there without a record."
Their desire to put out their album is understandable when they discuss the ambitious concept behind it.
"From the front to back, we wanted to make a record that was a new country-pop thing on the front half and paying homage to our country past on the back half," Jones said of the 12-song album. "If you listened to the first song and the last song, you wouldn't even know it was off the same album."
Their first single from the full record is a combination of those influences. Called "Last Night Again," it's a relaxed tune about, well ...
"It's a song about hooking up!" Jones said, pulling an embarassed groan from his fiancee.
"It's the first single off the record that we wrote," Linsey said. "I think it's going to be a good summer song. I think it sounds good on the radio, at least," she added with a laugh.
The pair wrote or co-wrote six of the songs on their album - with Jones penning the album closer, "Glass Houses," solo - and Linsey described their writing process as "real organic."
"I think it starts with just kind of a melody and the mood you're in sort of drives both the melody and the lyrics," Jones said. "It's different every time. Sometimes you can just sit down and write a song in 10 minutes and other times it takes three or four days.
"'Edge of Goodbye' was the first song we wrote together and it took two years [to get it right]."
It appears to be time well-spent. Although they don't have another big concert tour this summer, their show in State College figures to bring in a big crowd, according to State Theatre marketing director Kristy Cyone.
"I think we've had a really great response," she said. "And we expect a pretty big walk-up crowd for this show because it's a younger show than other country acts."
If the show does well, it could convince the State Theatre to bring in other, similar acts.
"We don't have a lot of country acts, but that's mostly because people don't usually come out and support them like they do for other [genres]," Cyone said. "Since this is a newer country act than we normally have, maybe it will do well and we'll get more [acts like it]."
Fan support doesn't seem to be a problem. The group has more than 12,000 devoted followers on Twitter. In fact, Linsey and Jones called back after their interview with the Mirror finished to relate a final piece of information.
"We just found out that we're up for a CMT award for Duo Video of the Year," Linsey said. "Our fans Tweeted us about it. That's how we find out about a lot of things. Our fans tell us before the record company."
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at