Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
The glass jar over there is full of what appears to be liquid gasoline and it's being sipped upon as if it were red wine, downed with a stinging tongue and coating the road traveled with a film that could be a fading, hot sweater. Those guys over there, crowding around it and shooting the shit are the townies who brought the stuff - honorable guys, in boots, dirty jeans, covered in vests and buckskin and always a bit rosy in the cheeks whether the happy hour is near or far. This moonshine is like milk to Pennsylvanian band And The Moneynotes, a group that used to have a Dr. Horseface associated with it but has since truncated it off.
It is like cough syrup and even more, the prohibition era idea of hording the drink in barrels and holes in the woods and the constant possibility of confiscation is getting closer to the rambling vibrancy of the band's outlaw, country, folk music that doesn't have any sense of what year it is. There is little that is straight-up or easily described in concern with And The Moneynotes, who are the equivalent of a shanty with a wooden rocking chair on the porch, a self-sufficient garden patch out back, musket smoke and a frontiersman's appreciation for the strength of a drink and for the brute force of any wild critter mad enough or scared enough to attack.
It's a band that also knows the brilliance that can come from pushing all of the wooden chairs to the sides of the room, scooting all of the tables and the rest of the furniture so that it crams the chairs into the window curtains and half tip the potted plants to just break out the instruments, sit down at the antique piano and make the floorboards pay dearly for ever being a part of that house. The place could be lit up for a week or more from one night of ecstatic sousing and jubilant carousing. Without making anything obvious or asking anyone to do it, And The Moneynotes persuade everyone to just bust out of the rock and the ice and just melt out into motion, into hollering and hooting and having no wits about them for at the minimum an hour. The persuasion, come to think of it, isn't really necessary. It is involuntary and moving.
The purpose of the ...Moneynotes is to boil blood so that it can just be happy, not so that it can burn and agitate. It's a priceless way to experience a night, when seeing the band perform, for they give everyone involved a reason to retreat into a no-fly zone. There is a strong desire to just make this the last night that you're going to have, to delay morning and let the soulful twang and grit pour through us like the firing of a canon and a chill. We're all penniless when we're being propelled and beseeched to just act, to go about the order of letting the forces take care of themselves, like watering running down hill. They make you feel naked while fully clothed and unable to contain yourself. It's a cheap thrill, but by that, all we mean is that it's inexpensive and readily available. Seeing and hearing the group perform old 50s and 60s doo-wop songs with a vigor and a snap is enough to make a person stay up all night dancing and drinking and calling into work the next day with a fake illness.
The music that the band makes itself is rife with murder ballads and the rusty tales of men who lived in one-horse towns and fended for themselves just fine. They are tales of oil lamp light and tobacco smoke, played out in a death or a love or an infatuation. They are tales that proudly throw their arms around the waists of the pretty girls and swing them until they're woozy with confusion and glee. They are tales that are from bygone times when everyone had a nickname and a breakfast of sausage and eggs of any make was thirty cents and not a penny more, no matter what diner you sat down in. Where they came from is where they're going back to, hell-raising as they hitch.
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