The South Austin Moonlighters
Station House Records
The South Austin Moonlighters are a roots-rock band. A group of local music veterans got together in 2011 just to have a good time. Included were bassist/mandolinist Lonnie Trevino Jr. who had previously toured with Mike Zito, played with singer-songwriter Drew Womack, and was soon to tour with the band Fastball. Also present was vocalist Chris Beall, who though strongly influenced by Tom Petty, had migrated from upstate New York to become the lead guitarist for the late, legendary songwriter Jimmy LaFave. A second gun slinging guitarist/vocalist “The Gentleman” Phil Hurley had a huge collection of vintage guitars and was a well known tone master. On drums was Daniel James influenced by Levon Helm and his high harmony. Soon it was apparent that when these guys got together something special was happening.
Working together they began to form their own unique style of Americana. With great vocal harmonies and well crafted songs they began to be compared to The Eagles, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Little Feat. After playing together for five years they decided to record. They enlisted Anders Osborne to be their producer. Osborne states “the vocal harmonizing on this record; it’s unusual to hear vocals that tight and that good. This album is one large statement, and in this case, it’s a great one. I love this record. I am extremely proud of it”.
Combining elements of country, blues, folk and southern soul “SAM” stands four strong. Each of them could front the band and they share the lead singing and songwriting duties. Being professionals they are also good at supporting each other. The title track and album is about recognizing life’s burdens. Knowing life is tough they don’t need to make it tougher and perform like family. Their lyrics express those feelings. Trevino and James provide harmony to guitarists Hurley and Beall’s leads as they sing “Oh, oh, it’s gonna be all right. Put down your worries and travel light”.
The Moonlighters weave a spell as they captivate with originals occasionally throwing in a cover. “Machine Gun Kelly” written by Danny Kortchmar was first recorded in 1970 when Kortchmar was with the band “Jo Mama”. This acoustic version really highlights the song’s beautiful lyrics.
On Steven Stills’ “Find the Cost of Freedom (Daylight Again)” the Moonlighters sound like CSN. Originals like “Feels Like Home”, “Girl From Texas”, “Carry Me On (Big City Life) and “Born Lucky” fill a void left by life’s complications and cause one to choose joy and the moonlight.