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California Report – MohaviSoul on the San Diego Bluegrass Scene and More

Randy Hanson and Mark Miller shaped San Diego-based MohaviSoul in 2012 to create a new sound mixing modern bluegrass and Americana referred to as Grassicana. Their CD, Hometown Blues, was nominated for greatest album of yr in 2018 by the San Diego Music Awards Academy, and is getting airplay across the US, UK, Canada, and Europe.

Answers listed here are collectively from Randy Hanson (mandolin), Mark Miller (guitar), Orion Boucher (bass), Jason Weiss (banjo), and Daniel Sankey (fiddle).

How did MohaviSoul start and the place did you all first meet?

We met by way of the San Diego Songwriters Meetup Group. We participated and collaborated in an area musical train referred to as The Recreation, where you’re given one or two music titles and you’ve got six weeks to write down and carry out the music. Mark and Randy have been encouraged by other individuals to collaborate together, and Orion and Jason have been shortly snagged after meeting them by means of the meetup. It’s an incredible artistic train that we nonetheless take part in. We’d encourage others to as nicely.

How did you provide you with the identify MohaviSoul?

The band’s identify pays homage to the high and lonesome nature of the desert that comes from our soul, rooted in people and country music. We chose to switch the English spelling over the Spanish spelling, and becoming a member of the two words collectively provides the fusion of our roots and our storytelling. The original Tribal Nation word Hamakhaave is their endonym in their native language, and it means ‘beside the water.’ And with members who have spent vital amounts of time in the high desert, we figured this identify introduced every part full circle. Mark Miller definitely brings the soulful vocals and Jason the soulful banjo. Bluegrass has this concept of the high lonesome sound, which conjures imagery of the desert, which could be a lonely place as nicely. And our vocals goal for an emotional and soulful resonance.

Are the band members all originally from San Diego?

No. We’re all transplants from different locations with the exception of Jason Weiss, who was born in England however raised and lived most of his life right here in San Diego. Mark is from Wheeling, West Virginia (16 years in San Diego) and Randy is a fifth-generation Californian from Glendale and West Los Angeles (20 years in San Diego). Orion (additionally a fifth-generation Californian on his mom’s aspect) is from Yosemite and later Bishop, California (six years in San Diego), and Dan was born in Pennsylvania and raised from age eight in Ventura County. Dan has been in the San Diego space since the late 1970’s.

The band has a bit more of an Americana sound but still sounds bluegrass. Who are your influences?

We make a extra modern sound using conventional bluegrass instrumentation, as do many other modern bluegrass bands, who’ve really kindled a brand new curiosity and larger following in the style. Since we all came from such totally different locations musically and culturally, I have to record them out individually. However you possibly can see that there’s some overlap and unique influences that span different genres of music, corresponding to rock and roll, jazz, people, and hip hop. For Randy, the influences embrace Sam Bush, Duffy, Skaggs, Stewart, Grisman, Jethro Burns, Previous and In the Means, the Dillards, NewGrass Revival, and Scorching Rize, and songwriters like Dave Alvin, Laurie Lewis, Rodney Crowell, Chris Gaffney, and Tim O’Brien.

Mark comes from a more outlaw country and rock background and tries to convey that to the MohaviSoul sound. His starting factors have been Johnny Money and Waylon Jennings, progressing to songwriting masters like Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle, resulting in progressive, modern acts like the Steeldrivers and the Punch Brothers

Jason’s influences embrace: blues – Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf; Jazz – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Fowl, Sonny Rollins; Rock – Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Lifeless, the Who; Banjoists – Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Béla Fleck, Tony Trischka.

For Orion as far as bass, everyone from Edgar Meyer and Mike Bubb to Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, and Christian McBride. So far as songwriting, everyone from John Hartford to the Wu Tang Clan. However his sole main singing influence needs to be Ricky Skaggs.

Dan’s main influences embrace Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Bella Fleck, Sam Bush, and Norman Blake.

What’s the bluegrass scene like in Ocean Seashore?

It’s a really young scene with a number of bands blending bluegrass with other forms of music. Fairly a number of national touring acts like Scorching Buttered Rum, Entrance Country, Previous Salt Union, and Iron Horse have played to packed crowds of younger and previous alike in the clubs here in Ocean, like Winston’s OB and the Holding Firm. MohaviSoul is one in every of the normal help acts for these teams, mixing the native with the national music. We find the scene very supportive of a band like ours.

Aren’t there numerous bluegrass players from San Diego?

There’s a historical past of great bluegrass musicians to return from the San Diego area, reminiscent of Chris Thile, Sara and Sean Watkins of Nickle Creek, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon, Wayne Rice, Stuart Duncan, Ron Block, John Moore, Dennis Caplinger, Alison Brown, Byron Berline, Dan Crary, and many more, as documented by Rick Bowman in his historical past of San Diego bluegrass documentary, “Banjos, Bluegrass & Squirrel Barkers”. Additionally, the Deering Banjo Company is predicated in San Diego.

What are some great jams in the space we should always attend once we go to San Diego?

One long-standing weekly jam is the Thursday Night time Pickers jam in Encinitas that our banjoist, Jason Weiss, has led for the final 12 years. The San Diego Bluegrass Society holds open mic and jam periods every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at the Fuddruckers in La Mesa and the Boll Weevil in San Diego, respectively. There are also jams in the Temecula area and occasional Hoedown on the Hill jams in Ocean Seashore.

The repertoire is primarily unique. What traditional favorites do you play?

Relating to traditional bluegrass, we love to return to the classics corresponding to Invoice Monroe, Earl Scruggs, the Carter Family, Jimmy Martin, the White Brothers, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, and Peter Rowan. We put a up to date spin on traditional tunes like Working on a Building, Stay and Let Reside, and Rain and Snow through the use of totally different vocal characteristics and various the arrangements. We’ll take a standard tune, velocity it up or sluggish it down, add our vocal type, and current it in a brand new, totally different method – nonetheless recognizable but undoubtedly MohaviSoul. We additionally love the influences of bluegrass bands like Previous and In the Approach, the Steeldrivers, Steve Earle, Scorching Rize, Del McCoury (and sons), and the Steep Canyon Rangers, in addition to Townes Van Zandt, and John Hartford. We’ve even been messing with some extra modern nation covers, songs by the likes of Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson for instance.

Tell us about your release Hometown Blues.

Hometown Blues was recorded at Singing Serpent Studios in San Diego. We waited a few years after the release of our first two CD’s to develop some new and strong material for a full-length CD of 12 songs. It was produced and engineered underneath the in a position stewardship of Ben Moore of Singing Serpent Studios, and mastered by Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurrsen at Lurssen Mastering in Los Angeles. While this CD was self produced, we’re also underneath Jake Skolenick’s report label, Mannequin Vainness Data, here in San Diego. We began recording in three-song clusters in January and completed all 12 songs by Might, 2017, and launched it in August, 2017.

I like the track Ferguson Battle. It’s an upbeat though very critical track.

One among the nice traditions of folks music and even some bluegrass is to mirror on our social experience and political climate. This track reflects on the risk that we will come back together and depart the tribalism of social, financial, racial, and ethnic identities and obstacles behind lengthy enough to “take back the night.” The riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the aftermath nonetheless go on and have left a wake of social and emotional injury and unresolved issues. Our track is just a melodic metaphor within a basic bluegrass motif that paints the image of needing change, healing the injury of social tribalism, and hoping to return together and make modifications that may help to “take back the night” collectively. It’s a enjoyable music to play with a basic bluegrass type of riff. Its melody was partly inspired by the progressive songs of the late great band Cadillac Sky.

What’s your relationship with Deering banjos?

Deering has been very supportive of our banjoist Jason Weiss and extra lately of MohaviSoul, with them inviting us and filming our Woodroom Session at their manufacturing unit right here in San Diego this last fall. We respect their roots right here in San Diego and their great influence and contribution to banjos and bluegrass. They’re one other necessary piece of the deep heritage of bluegrass here in sunny San Diego!

What exhibits do you will have arising you’re excited about?

We’ve some festivals arising later in the summer time that we’re very enthusiastic about. First, we get to return to the San Diego Bluegrass Society’s massive SummerGrass Pageant on Friday, August 16th. This pageant all the time has some nice national acts along with SoCal-based bands. Then we return for the third yr as the headliner for the Santee Bluegrass Pageant on Saturday, September 14, in help of music in the faculties. And we’re very excited to be a featured band at an enormous national pageant like this yr’s Huck Finn Jubilee in Ontario (Friday, September 27) alongside the likes of Railroad Earth, Steep Canyon Rangers, the California Honeydrops, Lindsay Lou, and the Dustbowl Revival.

You performed the CBA Nice 48 occasion in Bakersfield. Inform us about that.

MohaviSoul was considered one of the featured showcase bands for the Thursday night time CBA concert in 2016 and we have been again featured for a late-night show in 2018. We love this pageant, because it’s such an incredible reunion of bluegrass musicians and considered one of the few festivals in California that really brings together and showcases both the NorCal and SoCal bluegrass communities, as well as bringing in others across the West. One in every of the greatest things about this occasion is choosing up new songs from other areas, meeting new people, and seeing previous buddies we’ve picked up along the approach at different festivals.

You all help numerous group organizations. Tell us about that.

We’ve played quite a lot of advantages that help environmental teams and teams sponsoring devices and music for faculties. This consists of the Farm to Bay environmental group here in San Diego, festivals similar to Temecula, the Viva Las VeGrass, and Santee Bluegrass Festivals, and particular faculties corresponding to the Waldorf Faculty of San Diego that sustains a curriculum that blends music and math. We’ve given many such exhibits and songwriting workshops at these festivals to share our love for writing songs and creating music, and most significantly to help this essential explanation for bringing music and youngsters collectively. It’s a proper brain-left brain kinda thing that we have been taught turning into scientists, mathematicians, and pc scientists at many levels of our academic path.

What are your plans for the future?

Some California mini-tours up the West Coast of California and Oregon and along the japanese aspect of the Sierra, in addition to Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Tour some festivals in the East Coast, West Coast and Europe. We hope to make it again to IBMA and symbolize with our California-style bluegrass in 2020. We’re also writing numerous new originals and will report one other MohaviSoul unique CD very soon. As a result of we get so many requests at our exhibits for a few of the distinctive covers we play, we’ll also document a CD of these well-liked cowl tunes – MohaviSoul fashion, in fact.

Thanks on your time, guys.

We thanks very a lot for taking an interest and studying extra about SoCal Bluegrass and MohaviSoul.

Copy modifying by Jeanie Poling