Cave Music: It's like House, but its more wild, more jagged, more free, more natural to live in.
"Whoever thought of a band with two saxophones and a drummer? That's the stupidest idea, right?" Moon Hooch saxophonist Wenzl McGowen asked the crowd at a recent gig. Well, Wenzl, James Muschler (drums) and Mike Wilbur (saxophone) never intended on forming a band together. The three guys graduated from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan in 2010. Wenzl and Mike shared mutual contempt, each one thinking the other was a cocky sax-o-phony. And while they were both correctly judged each other, they eventually learned tolerance when Wenzl moved in to an apartment with James, next door to Mike.
The three began busking in the subway and in the city's parks. At the same time, Wenzl was producing House music and writing House for saxophone. When the guys played this music in the subway, people immediately began dancing.
One subway passenger asked, "What's your band's name?"
Mike blurted, "Moon Juice."
A Google search revealed that there were already multiple bands called Moon Juice. With the help of a thesaurus, the name Moon Hooch was selected, and more importantly, the trio now realized that they were, in fact, a band.
Since solidifying as a band, Moon Hooch has quickly gained a reputation for inciting "subway raves" (they were banned from performing at the Bedford Ave stop off the L line in Brooklyn for "starting too many dance parties"), their strange instrumentation and explosive live show. Their frequent presence in New York City subways and parks has brought them notice and fans which has led to appearances as the house band on Australian TV show "Hamish and Andy's Gap Year," and a national tour with Mike Doughty (Doughty saw them on a train platform and immediately invited to tour as his supporting act). They are now at the midpoint of a six month residency at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory, having sold-out all shows to date.
The band has already begun to expand its sound beyond just two saxophones and drums. Wenzl inserts a cardboard tube into his saxophone to create a Dubstep style womp, and switches between a contrabass clarinet and electronic wind instrument. They also have begun experimenting with various vocalists, inviting both singers and rappers on stage with them at shows.
Recorded in just a single day, their debut record, "The Moon Hooch Album," gives the listener a taste of what's to come for these guys. They seamlessly blend House, Dubstep, Drum & Bass, and Jazz into style that is uniquely Moon Hooch: Cave Music.
When it comes to the music of Cabinet, the essential bywords are soul, simplicity, and serious musicianship. In concert, the combination of these qualities invariably yields an experience that is so celebratory and moving that the very word Cabinet takes on a new, vivid meaning for anyone in the audience. An inclusive and engaging energy is the uniting through-line as Cabinet weaves bluegrass, country and folk influences to powerful effect. Tight dynamics punctuate gorgeous, soaring harmonies as down-to-earth rhythm and lyrics give way to dreamy jams that are the musical equivalent of the back road scenic route. But this impressive result is no accident. 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 love and live music. They each have a nuanced approach and posses broad talents in their own rights. But the passionate, affirming, and joyous musical world that they create together is Cabinet.
Listeners that haven't yet experienced Cabinet in person will no longer be left out, thanks to a trio of live releases. THIS IS CABINET - SET I (released Dec. 2010 on Ropeadope Records) showcases the band's arrangement of traditional country and bluegrass songs as well as extended versions of tracks from their Self-Titled debut. THIS IS CABINET - COVERS (a free album given to fans for the 2011 holiday season), again showcases arrangements of traditional and standard bluegrass and folk numbers plus a couple Paul Simon tracks thrown in for good measure. The most recent effort, ELEVEN (out now on Ropeadope Records), is the band's most ambitious release to date. A live DVD / CD recorded November 11, 2011 at Abbey Bar, a former WWII aircraft parts factory turned brewery, in Harrisburg, PA, ELEVEN captures Cabinet in the heart of their element. Performed in front of a rambunctious sold out crowd this 11 song set features fan favorites "Tower", "Elizabeth", "Old Farmers Mill" and "Coalminers" as well as previously unreleased material. ELEVEN surely lives up to the band's ever growing live show reputation.
Cabinet is a band that has outgrown any "regional favorite" tag and has progressed to a broader fanbase, all while retaining their signature sound. The band has played many great venues and festivals (CMJ 11, SXSW 11 & 12, musikfest 10 & 11, to name a few) across the land and has shared the stage with Infamous String Dusters, Railroad Earth, Rusted Root, Hoots & Hellmouth, Hot Buttered Rum, Cornmeal, Dark Star Orchestra, Keller Williams, Hackensaw Boys, 7 Walkers, New Riders of the Purple Sage and many more.
Cabinet formed in 2006, bringing together players from various musical and personal backgrounds. Some of the members are barely old enough to drink legally, but their thirst for older music is 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 band self-released a debut album, "Cabinet," before signing with Ropeadope, which took notice and re-released that album digitally.