If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group—saxophonist Mike Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler—has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as selling out their own headline shows in major venues around the country. On both ‘Red Sky,’ their third and most adventurous album to date and its companion EP, ‘The Joshua Tree,’ the band uses everything they’ve learned from their whirlwind journey to push their sound to new heights, bringing together the raw, transcendent energy of their live performances and the sleek sophistication of their studio work into a singular, intoxicating brew that blends elements of virtuosic jazz, primal funk, and pulse-pounding electronic dance music.
It was four years ago that the band released ‘This Is Cave Music,’ an exhilarating thrill ride that earned rave reviews from critics and fans alike. NPR Music hailed it as ‘unhinged’ and ‘irresistible,’ praising each musician’s ‘remarkable abilities’ and naming their Tiny Desk concert, which is closing in on two million views, as one of the best in the prestigious ‘series’ history. Though the band—whose members initially met as students at the New School—turned heads in the music industry as relative unknowns with a charismatic, unconventional sound (they play with unique tonguing techniques and utilize found objects like traffic cones attached to the bells of their horns to manipulate tone, for instance), they were already a familiar and beloved sight to straphangers in New York, who would react with such joy and fervor to their impromptu subway platform sets that the NYPD had to ban them from locations that couldn’t handle the crowds. New York Magazine once referred to their sound as “Jay Gatsby on ecstasy,” while the NY Post said they had “the power to make you secretly wish that the short [subway] wait becomes an indefinite delay.”
The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour.
For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be. It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time.
West Coast Tour Dates
Apr. 1 – Seattle, WA – Nectar Lounge
Apr. 6 – Bend, OR – The Capitol
Apr. 7 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
Apr. 8 – Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Hall
Apr. 21 – Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
Apr. 22 – Bozeman, MT – Filling Station
Apr. 28 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
Apr. 29 – Reno, NV – The Trocadero
May 4 – Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
May 5 – Seattle, WA – Nectar Lounge
May 6 – Bellingham, WA – The Wild Buffalo
May 13 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge