Moon High - Celestial Bodies

You might not expect to see a banjo anywhere near the stage at Carabar or Café Bourbon Street on a Friday night. In fact, some might even get nervous when they see Ryan Wells tuning up an instrument that is usually more appropriate for a bluegrass concert than a rock club. Then again, once Moon High starts playing, their brand of haunting folk with a touch of psychedelic rock, never fails to quiet any fears.

“It’s kind of hard for us to find a place to play that suits us,” says Wells, who plays guitar, banjo and Autoharp. “We work really well in a more intimate setting like a gallery or coffeehouse. When we started, we didn’t even use any microphones. They just kill the feel of the instrument sometimes,” he said.

Wells and David Fowler started Moon High a little over a year ago with the intention of creating their own music individually and then assisting each other on some of the tracks. It eventually evolved into a band that mixes up the traditional rock setup with instruments like the cello, the Autoharp and the banjo to go with the guitar and the drums. Both contribute vocals, though they never conceived they would from the start.

“Neither of us has really ever been in the spotlight and been the frontman,” says Fowler. “We’ve always been in the background in bands. It was a little rough at first, but definitely a change.”

After it was decided they would play live, William Jankowski was welcomed to the fold for live percussion. Since it’s early inception, Moon High’s show has been more of an experience.

“We try to set the mood with our own lights,” says Wells. “We have a light in the bass drum and in the banjo, but we control the brightness of others with a pedal. It sets the mood and makes it more intimate for us and the audience,” he said.

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