Moonshine Ramblers embark on national tour

Halifax-based bluegrass act Moonshine Ramblers is getting set to embark on its first tour across Canada, a journey that starts with a show at Moncton club Plan B on Wednesday night.

The Moonshine Ramblers’ self-titled debut album was recorded live off the floor of a loft studio in Halifax and has already scored nominations for Bluegrass/Country Artist/Group Recording Of The Year at the Music Nova Scotia Awards in addition to a nomination for Alt-Country Album Of The Year at the Independent Music Awards.

Even though Moonshine Ramblers bandmates Mark Gallant and Andrew Sneddon started performing together in 2004, it would be 2006 before they would play their first shows. Gallant shares that it wasn’t until guitarist Alex Hastie joined the band in late 2009 that the group began to come into focus.

“The very first Moonshine Ramblers song was a really simple folk song called ‘Greg McGreggor,'” Mark says. “It was named after an elderly man who came into the quad at Kings College and began unravelling a lengthy tale involving his royal heritage, interstellar travel and how to take care of mankind. Andrew and I were smoking outside and soaking this all up. After that we went inside and a song just fell out onto our laps. He seemed to have this connection to these things that we couldn’t fully grasp and that seemed really exciting for some reason.”

Mark shares that prior to the band releasing its first effort, the group had been working on a record that ended up being lost, something he now believes is sort of blessing.

“Near the end of that recording, we began to lose the feel of the songs through the many tracks done over a long period of time. When Alex joined the band, there was this raw energy and confidence in the band and we didn’t want to lose that through the tracking process.”

Mark says that recording live off the floor where you have one take to get things right was challenging but feels that this manner of making their record proved to be the winning recipe.

“By recording live off the floor, we really had to let go at a certain point and accept what comes out, but that is also what made the process easier for us. When you know you can always go back and change something with individual tracks, it can make for a really long process. Recording live off the floor eliminated that possibility.” Mark says that while the band is proud of its debut, it tends to be a little more rambunctious in its live show in order to keep up with the crowd.

“I am really proud of the record we made, but we’re at such a different place than we were last year,” Mark says. “Our show seems to be leaning toward the darker, faster material though. We usually change up our set list depending on the crowd because we know that no matter how awesome your slow song is, the people that are listening won’t be able to hear over the rest of the crowd.”

Article published in April 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript