In Focus: The New Mastersounds and Moon Hooch, Higher Ground

The New Mastersounds and Moon Hooch layed out their deep and funky grooves for the crowded Burlington scene, at Higher Ground Ballroom on April 22nd. TNMS consists of Simon Allen on drums, Eddie Roberts on guitar, Pete Shand on bass and Joe Tatton on keys.

new mastersounds moon hoochMoon Hooch opened up the night, riling up the crowd with their wild stirring of energy-their presence far exceeding any opener I’ve ever seen. Wenzl McGowen played what seemed to be a non-stop flow of contrabass clarinet, as well as baritone saxophone-along with Mike Wilbur on tenor saxophone and clarinet-dueling at points, as they are known to do. James Muschler on drums, maintained a strong presence throughout the entire show, steadily anchoring the rhythm. At one point he made his way to the corner of the drum-kit stage, to sit and play a very special and beautiful set of bongos. Just when no one was expecting it, Wilbur began belting out lyrics that were enough to shake the ground-the sentiments were shedding light on the truth of current political and environmental issues.

They took over the stage, by the end leaving the crowd wondering if they were the main act. These guys have been building momentum for some time now, and seem to be focusing their energy towards a conscious revolution through their music. Not only do they put on a show that will leave you wanting for more, but they also share their philosophical beliefs, as well as sustainable cooking advice (“Cooking in the Cave”, see their website). If you haven’t experienced Moon Hooch yet, they are one that you absolutely do not want to miss if you get the chance-it’s sure to be a unique and mind-opening experience. In reference to their sound:

Listening to this music, it’s easy to become emotionally invested….the emotional impact on both the musicians and their fans is visceral and undeniable.” –

Once Moon Hooch finished the transition of the atmosphere from their incredible performance, to the anticipation of The New Mastersounds taking the stage, was quite clear. The energy was so strong, I could feel it pulsating in the air.

Starting off on a high note, these four kept the crowds energy rising with their sound, forming a wave of dancing fans from the beginning of the show until the close of the evening. They played with ease, collectively moving in and out from one soulful tune to the next. The vibe they created was effortlessly smooth, funky and rhythmic. Halfway through, Shand dropped a bass-line with a reggae feel to it, with Roberts following it to transform it into a funky flow, transitioning back and forth. It was at this point that Allen really started wailing on his drums, in turn pushing Tatton to speed it up-to then slow it back down to the rock-steady feel. Through this weaving of complex movement, it was obvious to see that these guys have a chemistry that reverberates through their entire composition as a group.

You’ll find them playing shows all over the U.S. this year-from the south, to the west coast, and as far as Japan. They’ll be making a few stops in N.Y. towards the close of May and the early part of June, and popping up at well known festivals this coming summer such as Summer Camp Music Festival: Chillicothe, IL, Mountain Jam 2016: Hunter Mountain, NY, and Electric Forest: Rothbury, MI, just to name a few.

A little tidbit about their style:

From their inception nearly two decades ago in Leeds, UK, The New Mastersounds have wholeheartedly embraced the “old school” label—their sound rooted deeply in those classic soul jazz, boogaloo and funk albums on labels such as Blue Note and Prestige by artists like Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Lou Donaldson. The New Mastersounds’ latest LP, The Nashville Session, takes that devotion one step further by recording in the same tradition that many of those rare groove gems were made

The New Mastersounds are at the very top of an elite selection of acts that bring the true soul out of funk.”

The pairing of The New Mastersounds and Moon Hooch was genius-two incredible groups, bringing distinctly different, yet equally enticing and skillful performances to the table.

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