4:20 is coming up real soon no matter how you look at it. It happens once each calendar year, and twice a day in every time zone. San Francisco’s phenom jam band, Moonalice is feeling a celebration coming on and for good reason. The 20th of April each and every year is reason enough to bring their Tribe together for a smokin’ hot pow wow. With every passing year Moonalice reaches another high in their career and 2013 is set to go boom!
Their single “It’s 4:20 Somewhere,” has been downloaded over 2.5 million times. That’s an historic first in the culture of free digital downloads. But then, Moonalice has built a reputation on being first to do many things on the frontier of the indie movement and doing them very well.
Here’s just a for instance.
Have you seen, much less heard their eight volume EP set titled, Dave’s Way? Altogether there are 40 songs included in the box set. Each EP has an original sleeve wrapping the music in incredible artwork drenched in color from a coterie of artists who create the most jaw dropping images for each and every Moonalice show in the form of collectible posters. Images and symbolism play a big part in this legend-based brand.
The music in the Dave’s Way collection is pretty phenomenal. There are bunches of Moonalice classics like “American Dream Rag,” “Daylight,” “Foxtrot Uniform,” “Greenport,” and “Turk Street,” the Tribe is intimately familiar with from hundreds of live performances since their first show in May, 2007.
These classics are sprinkled throughout the eight-pack which strike the listener with a huge hit of psychedelic color perfect for a commute to work, or just chillin’ at the end of the day, end of the week, and any time music is the reward in a life well-lived. The production value in Dave’s Way is stellar. So much so, you’ll realize it isn’t produced like nearly everything we hear along the matrix of white noise. These songs have been produced with listening as the first priority, not as a backdrop to whatever else one might be doing.
Twenty five of the 40 tunes are written or co-written by Roger and Ann McNamee, founding members of Moonalice. British veteran rocker, Pete Sears, adds a good number of tunes to the collection. “Red Crow,” and “Joker’s Lie” are big crowd pleasers as well as “Who Can Say?” a tune Sears co-wrote with his wife, Jeannette. Moonalice’s pedal steel wizard, Barry Sless, contributed “Coconut Wireless,” and “The Ride,” the former being the only instrumental tune in this collection. Former Bruce Hornsby drummer, John Molo joins the McNamees as co-writer on “Nobody Knows.”
Threading an eclectic mix of styles and improvisation onto one big electric ride along the rock and roll landscape are colorful tunes by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Roger McGuinn; plus co-writing contributions by Jack Cassady, and GE Smith. Garcia and Hunter’s “Stella Blue” is a huge favorite among Moonalice fans. Dylan’s “The Man in Me” is a frequent addition to set lists, and McGuinn’s “Mr. Spaceman” is frequently requested among a certain contingency in the Moonalice Tribe.
Two personal favorites in this collection are “Diana’s Up & Dancing,” as well as the perennial classic, “Hallelujah.” Of the eight EP’s, Vol. 6 is the standout. It includes “Already Cried Those Tears,” “Live To Love,’ “Lost At Sea,” “Expiration Date,” and “Fair To Even Odds.”
If there’s anything Moonalice should be remembered for, it’s compassion, generosity, and simply letting the good times roll. As Friedrich Nietzsche so famously noted, “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” There’s little doubt the celebration of 4:20 had yet to be conceived lest Nietzsche’s observation would surely be the contrary.