By Dave Wasserstrom
In the past 4 years of my time spent in Columbia I have become more exposed to and have grown an appreciation for the local music scene. From Ubervice, the electronic DJ playing most nights in various clubs downtown, to my hippie earthy acquaintance Corey, who plays the drums in speaker circle in the summer heat, there are a lot of diverse artists around Columbia. Recently I was introduced to MoonRunner.
I recently got to hang out with MoonRunner and record an interview in the upcoming weeks before their concert/album release party on February 9 at the Blue Note. At first I felt a bit timid as the group rolled up and we began unpacking equipment out of the back of their 2-door Toyota truck. It was my first project as Production Manager at KCOU and I was still learning what exactly it was I was supposed to do up until the moment the band came in. Although I was scatter brained and all over the place the group was easy going and patient while I was tripping over cables and dropping microphones. They all expressed the same humble glow while we chatted about their music.
Once the mics were hot and the sound was checked we dove in to our 30 minute interview session. Dave Kemper (lead guitarist and group front man) played the first muddy, palm muted chords to “This Fire” and the band lit up. The group has a style that blends multiple genres into one unique, original sound individual to them. Dave has a strong country influence which can be distinctly heard in his twangy treble guitar lines and more clearly in his charming southern accent. Nate, on the acoustic guitar, sounds like Issac Brock’s offspring while barking out lyrics over his catchily crafted guitar work. Mitch (drummer) knows and cherishes the concept of a reserved drummer who dares not to cluster the sound by throwing in overly complicated fills. He acknowledges the drums spot as the backbone of the music; however, when there are fills needed he tosses in an eclectic mix of high hat dancing and tom rolling fills that keep the songs interesting and fresh in sound. Pat (bass) plays very well off the rhythm that Mitch gives him and establishes his own groove on it. Pat is dulled by bass playing that remains grounded in root notes so he creates his own melodic vibrations with every riff. And last, but certainly not least, is Paige on the vocals. Paige brings the whole sound together with her wide, loud and soulful singing. Although we were having issues with the bass amp, guitar amp and drum kit bleeding over into her microphone Paige was belting out enough to drown out all other noises and make for a good recording regardless of the small studio issues that arose.
And while the sound the group makes together is amazing the way they feed off each other is what gives MoonRunner their special feel-good presence while performing. Each player feeds off each other and they are in constant motion throughout the entirety of each song. At no point does it stop. The interview was constantly interrupted with inside jokes that had the group laughing so hard that I couldn’t help but give a clueless, yet genuine chuckle – I guess you had to be there.
It has been a while since I met a group of musicians who put such a genuine and dedicated effort into writing and performing music. Nate said it best near the end of the interview when he made a reference to the core of the band, which I thought referred to the longest standing members. Over the years there have been a lot of lineup changes. I asked him who made up the “core” and he simply replied “You’re looking at it.” While some band members have come and gone, and the current group is very grateful for their help, the core of the group is what is there now. As Nate said you can look at it in the context of five people from small-town Missouri writing and playing music in their free time or you can look at it as five individuals who are investing their lives into a unified expression of who they are and their collective experience and interpretation of the world.
MoonRunner will be releasing their next album “Evening Fires” February 9th. If you find yourself in Columbia on February 7, I highly recommend you go to their release party at the Blue Note. The bands playing (Mary & The Giant, and Bluefish) all rock, the tickets are cheap, and best of all you will be supporting great local music.
You can find out more about MoonRunner and hear them for yourself at http://www.reverbnation.com/
Dave Wasserstrom is a senior communication and psychology major. He once tried to break the world record for the longest time spent playing ukulele in a tree fort. However, his KCOU endeavors have distracted him temporarily. In his spare time, Dave whips up PBJ’s for his Elmo sandwich holder and marvels at his wardrobe, which proudly amounts to only $39.50. This trying young adult knows how to bargain. While the past three years of co-hosting commenced his radio career, he has focused primarily on production and creative services over the last year. Third person Dave hopes you enjoy his writing.