MoonTower Music Festival 2017
MoonTower Music Festival
JJ Grey & Mofro, Cherub, Todd Snider, Great American Taxi, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Tyler Childers, Vita & The Woolf
3051 Leestown Rd
Lexington, KY, 40511
MoonTower Music Festival
Back in it's fourth year, MoonTower Music Festival is a one-day festival not to be missed! In Lexington, KY, MoonTower shines a light on the local food and beverage scene, local companies, the community, local musicians, and so much more! Sourcing and supporting as many local partners as possible, this festival is;
- Kid friendly
- Dog friendly
- Waste Free
- Kentucky Proud (all food is sourced locally)
- Local brews and beverages
and the best price in the market! Join us to hear the bands you love, new ones you don't know you love - and so much more.
JJ Grey & Mofro
From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see JJ Grey and his band Mofro live—and you truly, absolutely must—the man is fearless.
Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty, but perhaps not until Ol' Glory has a studio record captured the fierceness and intimacy that defines a Grey live performance. "I wanted that crucial lived-in feel," Grey says of Ol' Glory, and here he hits his mark. On the new album, Grey and his current Mofro lineup offer grace and groove in equal measure, with an easygoing quality to the production that makes those beautiful muscular drum-breaks sound as though the band has set up in your living room.
Despite a redoubtable stage presence, Grey does get performance anxiety—specifically, when he's suspended 50 feet above the soil of his pecan grove, clearing moss from the upper trees.
"The tops of the trees are even worse," he laughs, "say closer to 70, maybe even 80 feet. I'm not phobic about heights, but I don't think anyone's crazy about getting up in a bucket and swinging all around. I wanted to fertilize this year but didn't get a chance. This February I will, about two tons—to feed the trees."
When he isn't touring, Grey exerts his prodigious energies on the family land, a former chicken-farm that was run by his maternal grandmother and grandfather. The farm boasts a recording studio, a warehouse that doubles as Grey's gym, an open-air barn, and of course those 50-odd pecan trees that occasionally require Grey to go airborne with his sprayer.
For devoted listeners, there is something fitting, even affirmative in Grey's commitment to the land of his north Florida home. The farms and eddying swamps of his youth are as much a part of Grey's music as the Louisiana swamp-blues tradition, or the singer's collection of old Stax records.
As a boy, Grey was drawn to country-rockers, including Jerry Reed, and to Otis Redding and the other luminaries of Memphis soul; Run-D.M.C., meanwhile, played on repeat in the parking lot of his high school (note the hip-hop inflections on "A Night to Remember"). Merging these traditions, and working with a blue-collar ethic that brooked no bullshit, Grey began touring as Mofro in the late '90s, with backbeats that crossed Steve Cropper with
George Clinton and a lyrical directness that made his debut LP Blackwater (2001) a calling-card among roots-rock aficionados. Soon, he was expanding his tours beyond America and the U.K., playing ever-larger clubs and eventually massive festivals, as his fan base grew from a modest group of loyal initiates into something resembling a national coalition.
Grey takes no shortcuts on the homestead, and he certainly takes no shortcuts in his music. While he has metaphorically speaking "drawn blood" making all his albums, his latest effort, Ol' Glory, found him spending more time than ever working over the new material. A hip-shooting, off-the-cuff performer (often his first vocal takes end up pleasing him best), Grey was able to stretch his legs a bit while constructing the lyrics and vocal lines to Ol' Glory.
"I would visit it much more often in my mind, visit it more often on the guitar in my house," Grey says. "I like an album to have a balance, like a novel or like a film. A triumph, a dark brooding moment, or a moment of peace—that's the only thing I consistently try to achieve with a record."
Grey has been living this balance throughout his career, and Ol' Glory is a beautifully paced little film. On "The Island," Grey sounds like Coleridge on a happy day: "All beneath the canopy / of ageless oaks whose secrets keep / Forever in her beauty / This island is my home." "A Night to Remember" finds the singer in first-rate swagger: "I flipped up my collar ah man / I went ahead and put on my best James Dean / and you'd a thought I was Clark Gable squinting through that smoke." And "Turn Loose" has Grey in fast-rhyme mode in keeping with the song's title: "You work a stride / curbside thumbing a ride / on Lane Avenue / While your kids be on their knees / praying Jesus please." From the profane to the sacred, the sly to the sublime, Grey feels out his range as a songwriter with ever-greater assurance.
The mood and drive of Ol' Glory are testament to this achievement. The album ranks with Grey's very best work; among other things, the secret spirituality of his music is perhaps more accessible here than ever before. On "Everything Is a Song," he sings of "the joy with no opposite," a sacred state that Grey describes to me:
"It can happen to anybody: you sit still and you feel things tingling around you, everything's alive around you, and in that a smile comes on your face involuntarily, and in that I felt no opposite. It has no part of the play of good and bad or of comedy or tragedy. I know it's just a play on words but it feels like more than just being happy because you got what you wanted — this is a joy. A joy that doesn't get involved one way or the next; it just is."
Grey's most treasured albums include Otis Redding's In Person at the Whisky a Go Go and Jerry Reed's greatest hits, and the singer once told me that he grew up "wanting to be Jerry Reed but with less of a country, more of a soul thing." With Ol' Glory, Grey does his idols proud. It's a country record where the stories are all part of one great mystery; it's a blues record with one foot in the church; it's a Memphis soul record that takes place in the country.
In short, Ol' Glory is that most singular thing, a record by JJ Grey—the north Florida sage and soul- bent swamp rocker.
Cherub is a sexy electro-‐pop duo that is the dance love-‐child of 80's funk and pop-‐ music from the future. The members of Cherub, Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber, share a love for honest original music and vibrant live performance, with a common goal to share a little bit of sex, a little bit of drugs, and a whole lot of love with people across the globe.
Cherub's music is a fresh electrified take on risqué pop music that brings to mind timeless artists such as Prince or Zapp and Roger, and more contemporary artists like Pharrell and The Dream. With a live show that is bouncing with energy, Cherub dances their way into the hearts of audiences from the first falsetto hook, until the very last delay filters out.
2013 saw the release of "100 Bottles" EP with the leadoff infectious smash "Jazzercise '95." In addition to a direct support slot on spring 2013's Age of Reason Tour with Gramatik, the band will be making stops at such festivals as Lollapalooza, Governor's Ball, Austin City Limits, Wakarusa, as well as stops in the UK & Europe.
Named one of Paste Magazine's "12 Tennessee Bands you Should Listen to Now," Cherub had a massive 2012, with appearances at such major festivals as Bonnaroo, SXSW, Electric Forest, Hangout Fest, Snowball Music Fest, and with STS9 at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
After receiving a warm response worldwide to the digital release of the band's first record, Man of the Hour, and touring throughout the US and Mexico, Cherub released their follow up MoM & DaD in February 2012. The album includes the smash viral hit "Doses and Mimosas," which in August 2012 hit #1 on Hype Machine's most talked about songs chart.
The latest batch of Cherub songs brings a fresh, uptempo electro feel to the familiar pop sensibilities showcased on their first record. Jordan Kelley's studio production, clever songcraft, and silky smooth falsetto are complimented perfectly by Jason Huber's live production and tube-‐driven guitar work. Cherub's versatility in songwriting and dance music production blurs conventional genre barriers. Ranging from grooving heartfelt ballads to risqué club bangers, Cherub takes the throwback vibes of old drum machines and washed out keyboards and marries them with timeless writing and a very modern approach to music production and performance. Playful guitar licks and lush synthesizer textures dance around in the mix, as listeners are treated to sing-‐a-‐long hook after hook the entire way through the tunes.
You don't expect barrelhouse boogie woogie, straight up garage rock or power pop from the ratchety voice who gave you "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," the iconic East Nashville Skyline or the Great American Taxi-backed Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker. Yet fresh from fronting the freewheeling social commentary of the jam-meets-Tom Petty Hard Working Americans – featuring Widespread Panic's Dave Schools and Chris Robinson Brotherhood's Neal Casal – Todd Snider's Eastside Bulldog suggests there's a new kinda rumble under the hood of the iconoclastic troubadour.
"I think if you work so hard to be taken seriously, you've missed the rock and roll," Snider says with a wry smile, equal parts Shakespeare's Puck and naughty teenager. "What's wrong with uptempo and positive? This is Saturday night: crank it up when you're ready to go out, drive too fast, get yer ya-yas out. Just let it go, and dive in -- and get rockin'." Random notions sunk into the East Nashville soil when the cabin-fevered folkie would spend time at home. Knowing you can't saturate the market, he'd call up friends like Elizabeth Cook and Kevin Gordon, and hit various bars under the moniker Elmo Buzz & the Bulldogs. The randy, rousing group – "kinda like the Rolling Thunder Review, with horns and girls" – quickly became a hipster's favorite, mating Jerry Lee Lewis' fraught rock with the Kingsmen's swing'n soul. Never intended as more than a local kick-out-the-carbons joyride, the Bulldog buzz infected more than East Nashville's 5 Points neighborhood. A day of recording with Emmylou Harris' steelman/original Mavericks' producer Steve Fishell – for a master class he runs – captured the combustion and kinetics in a way that merged crazed music lovers, alcohol and freewheeling musicians.
But it wasn't until manager Burt Stein encouraged Snider to take his Dogs to Cash Cabin to try and catch lightning in a studio one more time that the music from the "mythic" Elmo Buzz, the never-made-it bar-rocker whose schtick the Peace Queer creator "stole," was crystalized, and was finally committed to tape. Eastside Bulldog is romp, a stomp and one hell of a party.
"This," Snider enthuses, "is the afterparty after the party."
From the Bo Diddley grindhouse bully smackdown "Enough Is Enough" to the freewheeling "Secret Agent Man"-style pep club rally "Eastside Bulldogs," the bass heavy, horn squonking instrumental "Bocephus" that evokes the Champs' "Tequila" with its own feverish cry of Hank Williams Jr's nickname to the Fats Domino meets Little Richard rager "37206," which proclaims "I got the tshirt – and the bumper sticker," this is Snider unbridled.
"We're kinda like the Kingsmen: they're always blazing and they barely make it when the vocal kicks in. Like the end of the solo on 'Louie, Louie,' that's my favorite musical moment ever... Because just when you think it's all gonna fall apart, it comes together and explodes. It's so good!"
One listen to the careening refrain of "chicks and cars and partying hard," with Jen Gunderman's pumping piano and Snider's slamming surf guitar on the music business skewering "Hey, Pretty Boy," it's obvious that spun-out fishtailing is where it's at for the man whose writing's been hailed by John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Sykes and Guy Clark. Snider sees no compromise or contradiction in these euphoria-pumping party songs. "To me, it's a deeper thing: If you don't think 'Whomp Bop A Lu Bop' is genius, you're missing it. As a person in folk, I think 'Sha na NA na NA' or a bunch of 'shadoobies' are the lyric that's got it! 'Tuttti Frutti' is deeper than 'Blowin' In The Wind,' even as the guy who wishes he'd written 'Blowin' In The Wind.' It says more about everything, love, rage, sex – all of it."
It doesn't hurt that Snider's current cavalcade of songs includes the barbed-wire surf guitar strewn trog-pop "Are You With Me," the burlesque-y churn and shuffle of "Come On Up" in full carny barker exhortation or the farfisa power-pop pogo delight of "Ways & Means," which invokes "Private Eyes" songwriter Warren Pash's cash. Even the cacophony meets freefalling "Check It Out" suggests a meth-addled percussive-driven "Land of a 1000 Dances."
"That's the whole idea: it's the opposite of what you expect from me. But I like songs that say, 'Hey, baby, let's rock and roll..,' especially more than once. I like there's lotsa spots to yell. I like that the whole record is over in less than half an hour – and it's all fun!
"I hope my artsy fartsy friends can hear this and like it. For some people, if it's not super-serious and talking about the things they think they should worry about, then it's not art. But you know, the real art is stuff that makes you feel! "You listen to this, and it's not going to matter – as long as it's tonight! And ALL night! As long as my baby's with me, and we're getting it, and..." Snider almost runs out of breath. He's fired up. He's ready to party. And for the man who's the post-modern troubadour state-of-the-world pulse taker, it's simple. "This is genuinely my political statement to the world: if you ask me about the election or the state of the world, I'm like Our Party is – We Party Balls! Turn It Up, Man! We're Doomed; Let's Dance! "Oh, and all those kick ass, wicked sweet leads? Those are my wicked sweet kick ass leads for the first time! I play about as good as a kid in high school – and that's exactly what we're looking for."
So as the sax bleats and sweats, the tempo bunches and catches, kick off your shoes and drop your center of gravity. For Snider, it's just thus. Get your "Funky Tomato" and go.
Great American Taxi
Americana outfit Great American Taxi has shuffled the deck in 2015 and added some new dynamic players to the fold. Having gathered with Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth fiddle player and record producer) at Silo Sound Studios in Denver, CO in late 2014 and again in early 2015 to record a new album, the band is ready to reveal what's next. Core members Chad Staehly, Jim Lewin and Brian Adams find themselves joined by Arthur Lee Land on guitar, banjo and vocals as well as sharing some of the songwriting duties. GAT invited drummer Duane Trucks (Hard Working Americans) to record on the album, who will also perform with the band on some of the dates in 2015. Nate Barnes (Rose Hill Drive, Ryan Bingham) will join the band on drums as well for some shows.
Producer Tim Carbone recently had this to say about the new recording project - "The sound of the new line-up is pure gold Americana! The songwriting is as sharp as ever and the boys are willing and able to experiment. The guitar playing is mind blowing!"
Taxi will maintain a light touring schedule until the release of the album (due out later this year). The first shows of 2015 will be in their home state of Colorado in June and then they will be heading to Alaska in August for SalmonFest in Ninilchik, AK and the Blueberry Festival at the beautiful Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK.
Big Sam's Funky Nation
Noladelic PowerFunk. That's the sound Big Sam's Funky Nation have been whipping up for more than a decade. It's high-energy music that mixes funk, rock & roll, hip-hop, and jazz into the same pot, glueing everything together with the brassy influence — and heavy grooves — of New Orleans.
From national performances at Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits to hometown appearances Voodoo Fest and Jazz Fest, Big Sam's Funky Nation have built their reputation onstage. The band's live performance are legendary, filled with blasts of brass, bursts of electric guitar, and the charisma of Big Sam, a frontman who sings, plays, dances, and involves the audience in everything he does. You don't just watch a Funky Nation show. You become part of the show, singing along with Big Sam whenever he demands a call-and-response.
A native of New Orleans, Big Sam first rose to fame as a member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, whose touring schedule kept the young trombonist on the road for 300 days a year. The group performed with bands from all genres, backing up Widespread Panic one minute before sharing the stage with Dave Matthews Band the next. A fan of diverse bands like Parliament Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, and Prince, Big Sam loved the variety that Dirty Dozen Brass Band offered. He wanted to front his own group, though. He needed to sing, to engage the crowd, to write his own songs. Inspired to chase down that dream, he formed Big Sam's Funky Nation, reaching out to some of his favorite players from around the Big Easy — including Joshua Connelly, Chocolate Milk, Jerry "J Blakk" Henderson, and Drew "Da Phessah" Baham — to create his own supergroup.
Big Sam isn't the only member of the Funky Nation to sport some serious credentials. J Blakk kicked off his career as a trumpet player, even performing with Southern University's marching band — Human Jukebox — before finding his love for bass. Horn player Da Phessah established himself around town as an in-demand producer and multi-instrumentalist. Guitar player Connelly grew up on rock & roll, eventually growing into a world-class musician whose style dips into rock, funk and jazz. Chocolate Milk began drumming in church. Together, those five musicians make up Big Sam's Funky Nation, a group that knows no boundaries, no limits, no restrictions — only the thrill that comes from playing music inspired by the thrills of their New Orleans hometown.
"We don't cater to one demographic," says Big Sam, rattling off a list of jam band festivals, jazz shows, rock clubs, and funk gigs that his band has played since 2007. "We play music for everybody. It's not just funk; that's the foundation, but the music goes from funk to rock to wild jazz. It's music about love and partying. Everyone can get down with that."
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky is a little town called, Paintsville, where the economy is dependent on the dying coal industry and a tradition of music thrives with the US 23 Country Music Highway Museum and Butcher Hollow. Carrying on the music tradition is native son and current Lexington, Kentucky resident, Tyler Childers.
Paintsville is located in the Big Sandy River Valley of Johnson County in Eastern Kentucky made famous for its lawlessness, religion, and booze, and a song about a horse thief, a rambling man, and an attempt to gain some good ol' Appalachian self-justice is what "William Hill" is all about. Following his "Papaw" around to the Kentucky social institutions – church events and barber shops to name a few– as well as a lot of coon hunting with his dad, Tyler has heard a tale or two about the misadventures of a few good ol' boys and he gives his own spin of these accounts behind a whisky-soaked voice well beyond his age of 22.
Vita & The Woolf
Vita and the Woolf is the brain child of Jennifer Pague. It is an electronic soul pop musical group from Philadelphia. The band name was inspired by the love relationship between novelists Vita Sackville and Virginia Woolf.
Much of the music is vocal driven and includes a wide range of harmonies. Many have compared Pague's voice to that of Florence Welch. Jennifer Pague has been writing songs under the Vita moniker for the past two years. Her romantically tragic and adventuresome lyrics tie into her European travels to Belgium and the Netherlands.
The haunting harmonies and vocal layering combined with crazy instrumentation and simple drumming produce a sound that reflects R&B, soul, jazz, and powerful choral ballads.