The South Austin Moonlighters – From Here To Home
This will remind aficionados of this music delicacy who once embraced the more traditionalist route of the 60s & early 70s country rock. Their ears are embedded in Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Goose Creek Symphony, Poco, the early James Gang, Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ozark Mountain Daredevils & the like. I know. I was one of them.
The music just flowed purely like the difference between tap water & rushing cold stream spring water. But even if you pulled a cork this music would be a feather across your naked belly. What would have made for a better CD cover is that wonderful color picture of the South Austin Moonlighters above — that reminds me of the classic Jethro Tull LP cover This Was. It’s got character. Something lacking in many artists images today. The look they have is their music.
Produced in Texas by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) the 10-cut well textured & brightly played From Here To Home (Drops June 30– Independent) never lets up. The tunes are memorable & classy & you can almost smell the woodburning stove where they may have played this.
If by chance The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had to play a set with The Grateful Dead this may be what you would hear. It has equal doses of melody, jam- ability, all with close ties to tradition. The performance on these songs isn’t watered down by commerciality or mainstream sweetness. Yet, the catchiness is there, the vocal tonality is colorful & it’s basically attractive music.
The band was born in 2011 & considered an alternative country unit, but they never wander far from what makes country rock compelling. Many don’t remember that this music made friends with good ole boys & hippies back in the day. They had something in common now.
OK, the country boys guzzled Jack Daniels straight & the hippies still stuck with Boone’s Farm Apple wine, but they came around as bands like the Allman Brothers & Lynyrd Skynyrd materialized. The South Austin Moonlighters are anchored in areas they may not be familiar with. There’s a little “Truly Fine Citizen” Moby Grape, some Seatrain & pinches of Hot Tuna. But this conglomeration could only provide bliss in the showcase & it does. “Hearts In Parallel,” has a soaring lead guitar. Not a stillborn idea in these songs.
Highlights – “Make a Livin’,” “Long Time Comin’,” “Box of Memories,” “Faded Into Gray,” “Heart’s In Parallel,” “From Here To Home,” “Then Away, Farewell” & “Deltaman.”
Musicians – Chris Beall (lead vocals/acoustic & electric guitar), Daniel James (drums/percussion/bgv), Lonnie Trevino Jr (lead vocals/bass/acoustic guitar/piano) & Hunter St. Marie (acoustic, 12 string electric & slide guitars) with Daniel Creamer (keys), Fred Mandujano (drums/percussion), Jacob Hildebrand (guitar) & Anthony Farrell (keys).
Color image: Mark Del Castillo. The 40-minute CD @ https://thesouthaustinmoonlighters.com/