Nanaimo’s new talent, five-piece band Coal Moon, released their debut album You Can’t Have Blues in an Indian Summer on August 30 and will hold a release party at Crace Mountain on September 14.
Coal Moon offers a fresh and inspiring take on the terms “local song-writing” or “local music”. You Can’t Have Blues in an Indian Summer is a journal of artists eager to experiment with mixing genres such as folk, country and soft rock, along with acoustic tracks and lo-fi, organic elements.
The band’s creative style of combining eclectic elements and playing with diverse sources begins with the name. Coal Moon reflects the influence of Nick Drake’s album Pink Moon and Nanaimo’s coal mining history.
Originally a multi-instrumental duo of bassist Ryan Abbot and guitarist, singer and songwriter Jesse Kennedy, Coal Moon entered Nanaimo’s music scene in 2011, playing at parties and intimate events. When drummer Andrew Kent, and guitarists Raven Woods and Mat Falvai joined in fall 2012, the group began to perform at bigger venues in Nanaimo, Duncan and Victoria.
Kennedy believes that the album will help the band win attention of audiences on the mainland. “Our goal now is simple – release the album and play Vancouver,” says Kennedy.
When describing the process of songwriting Kennedy says he draws on his old passion for writing short fiction. He also finds inspiration in nature, real life experience, in the stories of the people around him, and in listening to artists such as Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, Josephine Foster, or Devendra Banhart.
You Can’t Have The Blues in an Indian Summer is the resulting fusion of different sources. It doesn’t seem to aim for a particular bonding theme. Individual tracks often condense large scales of genres toned with a psychedelic filter. Some songs switch moods and paces or even merge into a whole new song as if never wanting to end. Soft strumming with almost whispering vocals alternate with guitar rage and intense solos or lead to moments of joyful lo-tech improvisation.
For example, the swaying country tune in “You are a Breeze in a Wind” slows down to a romantic duet only to transition to a brisk, cheerful hand-clapping improvisation with harmonica and seashells while Kennedy in the distance calls various names of trout species into a trombone.
The outcome is far from being a monolithic soundscape. Indeed, the band intended the album to be, as Kennedy says, “a family of cousins rather that siblings,” where each song will have a different mood and origin. Coal Moon, for example, invited along guest musicians such as Ed Lee on guitar and organ, Duncan Symonds on pedal steel and banjo, and singer Jennalee Stupich whose gentle voice complements Coal Moon’s sensitive, soul searching sound.
The band is also proud of the album’s unique design. In the spirit of environmental consciousness, a recyclable beer bottle with the band’s label will carry a string of paper with the code to download the album online. It was inspired by The Flaming Lips famous gummy candy skull cover.
But, as Kennedy repeats, now it is time for Coal moon to conquer the stage and spend time in front of audiences. Unlike other band members such as Falvai, who regularly plays on cruise ships, or Abbott and Kent who studied jazz at the VIU, Kennedy shyly admits that playing live is something he’s still getting used to and that he never looks into the crowd, but his desire to perform overcomes any doubt. “Next show I will look at the crowd,” he adds.
You Can’t Have The Blues in an Indian Summer was released by Broken Spiral Studios. Release party takes place on September 14 at Crace Mountain in Nanaimo. For more information and concert dates visit www.facebook.com/CoalMoon.