Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch


Friday, August 31st, 2012

Doors: 11:30 pm / Show: 11:59 pm


Tickets Available at the Door

This event is 21 and over

tickets available at the door. cash only

Moon Hooch
Moon Hooch
Moon Hooch captured the imaginations of thousands with its infamous stints busking on subway platforms and elsewhere in New York City: two sax players and a drummer whipping up furious, impromptu raves. This happened with such regularity at the Bedford Ave station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that the band was banned from playing there by the NYPD. The trio's subsequent tours with They Might Be Giants, Lotus, and Galactic as well as on their own have only broadened the band's appeal. Wherever Moon Hooch plays, a dance party soon follows.

Hornblow Recordings and Palmetto Records are now proud to release Moon Hooch's second album, This Is Cave Music, on Sept 16, 2014. The title refers to the term Moon Hooch coined to describe their unique sound: like house music, but more primitive and jagged and raw. Horn players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen do this by utilizing unique tonguing methods, or adding objects -- cardboard or PVC tubes, traffic cones, whatever's handy -- to the bells of their horns to alter their sound. Not to be outdone, drummer James Muschler gets swelling, shimmering sounds from his cymbals, and covers the head of his snare with a stack of splash cymbals to emulate the sound of a Roland TR-808 drum machine's clap.

Wilbur was raised in Massachusetts, and Muschler in Ohio; McGowen grew up in several different European countries. The three met while students at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, and they found in each other a common work ethic and holistic philosophy. Moon Hooch are committed to environmental and agricultural sustainability, and they're such fans of Michael Pollan's groundbreaking The Omnivore's Dilemma that they visited the farm that Pollan profiled in the book, Polyface Farms, in rural Virginia while on tour in 2013. Moon Hooch literally caused a stampede when they set up and played their song "Tubes" in the pasture as cattle swirled in the background. (The trio lived to tell the tale, and the "Cattle Dance Party" video has been viewed nearly 200,000 times and counting on YouTube.) Muschler also maintains a blog called Cooking in the Cave ( where he chronicles the band's vegan tour-van culinary endeavors -- it's amazing what these guys can do with a hot plate.

While their self-titled first album, which cracked the top 10 of Billboard's Jazz Albums chart, approximated the band's acoustic approach to dance music, This Is Cave Music takes their cave music hybrid further into electronic and pop music realms with synthesizers, post-production work, and even singing added to the mix. "We aren't trying to do it for the sake of reaching a wider audience," McGowen points out. "We are doing it because it's where our passion has evolved to. This album is a culmination of that."

The source material was, like the first album, mostly recorded at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn by Jacob Bergson, with McGowen on contrabass clarinet and baritone saxophone, Wilbur on tenor saxophone and vocals, and Muschler anchoring things on percussion. Everyone was involved in the digital additions. "We spent a lot of time on tour producing the set, running all the live sound through Ableton software, and manipulating the studio sound on our computer while in the car," Wilbur explains. "We could just pass the computer around and work on it for hours."

The album opens with the old school "No. 6" where Wilbur wails on digitally modified tenor saxophone as McGowen anchors the low end with contrabass clarinet, providing those shifting acid house bass sounds. As always, Muschler provides tasty, precise beats and fills.

Things turn to straight up new wave on "Mountain Song" with Wilbur's dreamy vocals alongside icy synthesizers and machine-like drumbeats with contrabass clarinet filling the backdrop. Celebrating the band's love of Depeche Mode, "Rainy Day" is a classic synth-pop love song where Wilbur actually recorded his vocals in the van after a gig in North Carolina while on tour with Mike Doughty.

The circular sounding "St. Louis" is the final of three synth-pop road tunes written by the horn players. (The tour stop that gave the song its name was also memorable because Muschler cut his hand wide open while making dinner backstage. The drummer played that show in St. Louis and many that followed with one hand.) This is the band at its most anthemic with Wilbur on vocals and sax, McGowen on contrabass clarinet and a now-healed Muschler on drums.

"5-Sax Piece" uses multiple sax overdubs from Wilbur to create a polytonal, synthesizer-like backdrop, while elsewhere, McGowen's Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) synthesizer can be heard at various times, most notably on the track that bears its name.

The album closes with a suite of songs that fit together so well that they are usually a closing sequence of the band's live set. Written by Muschler, the first chord of "Bari 3" features the lowest note of both the baritone and tenor saxophone and moves on from there to more traditional Moon Hooch fare. Sliding in behind it is the trance music-like "Why Not," which was written by Wilbur. The idea here was to write a two-note melody and see how far the band could take it, which is quite far into minimalist house music. "Contra Dubstep" follows with Wilbur singing, rapping even playing slide whistle.

The finale is one of the band's most popular and infamous songs. A live YouTube video for "Milk and Waffles," finds the band playing in the middle of a freeway bridge; while no cars ever pass, Muschler was so overwhelmed by the moment that he closed the song by taking off his clothes, trashing his drum kit and walking away.

Listening to this music, it's easy to become emotionally invested. It may not always prompt you to strip off your clothes, but the emotional impact on both the musicians and their fans is visceral and undeniable.
Some of the best parties are the ones that weren't even supposed to occur. Two or three friends lazily enjoy each other’s company, then another two or three join the impromptu festivities. Jokes are cracked, drinks are guzzled, and the next thing you know, it’s 3 a.m.

Celebration, Cabinet’s third studio release and seventh overall, is that kind of get-together. Initially intended to be a straight bluegrass record, the album instead emerged as the band’s most diverse release yet, which is no small statement when you consider the various genres the band has touched upon in the studio and on the stage to date. What’s remarkable, though, is that the tunes, which span the band’s eight-plus years of existence, showcase that diversity while retaining a distinct, cohesive common thread that the band deftly weaves from track to track. It barely needs to be noted at this stage in the game that the individual musicians’ playing prowess is at a high level, but what makes this a true album rather than a loose collection of unrelated songs is not those acclaimed Cabinet instrumental chops, but its time-honored writing abilities, which are in top form here. Scenes and moods are evoked, established and subtly revisited, sometimes via timeless lyrics and sometimes with just the simple turn of a musical phrase or accent.

What’s more surprising is these songs, despite their shared sensibilities, were not all written during the same period. Some have been kicking around the Cabinet catalog for some time, like “Home Now,” a live staple for the Americana outfit since its early days, which gets a relatively raucous reworking here. Others, like “Pine Billy” and “Red River,” are brand new. “Red River,” specifically, finds the band at its introspective best, a yearning, pretty tune that might pleasantly surprise some Cabinet fans.

Those long-time fans will delight in the new material, and the uninitiated will be won over, too, thanks to the warm, inviting nature of the songs and the way they’re presented sonically. Themes of home and family abound, further welcoming the listener to gather around the proverbial campfire with the band as tales are told and songs are sung. It’s a good place to be, and you’ll be mighty glad you stopped by.

Cabinet is a band with roots firmly planted in the Appalachian tradition. They wear their influences like badges, honoring the canon of roots, bluegrass, country, and folk, weaving these sounds into a patchwork Americana quilt. But this music isn’t romanticizing or rehashing the past. Cabinet makes it mark on today. The steady aim of their harmonies soar straight onto target each time, the soaring vocals giving voice to the story of each song. Their music takes the long way home, treating its listeners like passengers on a ride through scenic back roads. Their live shows are inclusive, celebratory, and community-building. Members Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Dylan Skursky (electric bass, double bass), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals), and Jami Novak (drums, percussion), all live and love music, and aren’t afraid to show it.

Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members were barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music was unquenchable. Whether its rustic "American Beauty"-era Grateful Dead or old-timey bluegrass, Cabinet has digested it all. But that is not to say that Cabinet recreates older styles. No, this is music that might have its roots in the past, but it is current and vibrant, with a sense of celebrating the now.

"The instrumentation may evoke the hills of Appalachia, but the vibe is more like the valleys of Neptune." - relix

"The songs are filled with luscious harmonies, grand and euphoric in scope and sound, the depth of which are accentuated with the powerful banjo picking by Pappy and finesse fiddle mastery by Kopec." - Glide Magazine
Venue Information:
Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11249

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