The thing about a six piece Americana band is, once they get a head of steam, they're a force to be reckoned with--on stage, that means volume and tempo; after the show it means whisky and other extracurricular activities; and in the case of Moonsville Collective out of Long Beach, it means creative momentum. This week, the band releases its much-anticipated full-length record they guys have named Heavy Howl.
Singles from the recording started popping up neo-Americana devotee blogs across the country; it seems that the sound the Collective calls California Goodtime is poised for a breakout beyond the band's coastal stomping grounds. And it hasn't come easy for the septet; just as they write and perform the old fashioned way, they accumulate fans in the same manner--a lot of hard regional touring up and down Interstate 5, and into Nevada and Utah. The band is said to have played 250 shows in its first two years (starting in 2011) and by now, that figure has to be twice that number.
Things can get pretty wild at shows, especially the more remote locations. "We were playing a gig at a Country Club and a shackled up Shetland [sheep dog] broke free and went buck cocaine till three grounds keepers tackled it," recounts banjoist Ryan Welch. "They tied it up to fence and fed it a beer from a pony bottle to try to calm it down."
Local festival gigs have kept the band busy of late; they stole the show last month at Long Beach Folk Revival Festival, even though they declined to join the beard and mustache contest--which several of the guys had a real shot at winning.
Moonsville brings more to the table than your average beardy folk revivalist specimen. First of all, they are multi-generational; the father-son combo of "Dobro" Dan Richardson and upright bassist Seth Richardson add an unbroken circle dynamic to the group, with the elder Richardson taking on a Garth Hudson-mentor role for the younger players. Uncle Jonas Richardson gets involved too, contributing harmonica from time to time, which can get interesting. "I found him pouring a whole beer into his harmonica," Sean says. "He said, 'One minute, man--it sounds better when it's drunk!"
That's how they do it up in Los Osos, apparently.
Secondly, all six of the guys can flat-out play.They performed around-the-clock sets at the annual NAMM shredfest in Anaheim this past January. Since they all sing too,it gives Moonsville a democratic vibe which lends itself to comparisons with The Band. Moonsville doesn't shy away from the likeness--this Winter they holed up in a cabin studio in Idyllwild that they dubbed Big Brown and came away with some nice keepers.
For Heavy Howl, the band recorded in Whittier at Earwitness Studios, run by Sam Knaak, a friend of the band. They were afforded a no-rush atmosphere and a lot of access, Seth says, which translated onto the recording.
Like any self-respecting SoCal Americana band, they shot the video for the single "Blue Money Grove" around Joshua Tree, with the instrument-playing cutaways filmed at Pappy & Harriet's. It all goes to conjure the spirit of Graham Parsons, though with plain t-shirts and jeans instead of nudie suits, and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in place of pharmaceutical cocktails.
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As for the next steps for the Collective, they are planning more roadwork in support of the new album. There's a new band van in the mix, which means they are looking even further outside of Orange County. They aren't quite sure how far the road will take them, but one thing is for sure, momentum is in their favor.
Moonsville Collective Album release party, The Backyard Ramble, 6-11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 at Howl Event Space, 237 Long Beach Blvd. $12-$18. For tickets, click here. Heavy Howl is available Friday Oct. 30, to buy it click here.