The Moon Police
Time/place: 7pm Saturday at Cabrillo Playhouse with Rebecca
Magical. Beautiful. Fun. Endearing. All words that were used last night to describe our time with the wonderful musical group, The Moon Police.
At various times over the years, usually on a dull Friday or Saturday evening, I have sought to find a great local source for live music. We have a couple of coffee houses around that will host singer-songwriters, ala Phoebe Buffay, and I can find more proper concerts here and there, but my interest in finding a great source to even learn of local bands has yet to surface anything consistent. It was during one of these online searches, though, that I made a very lovely discovery:
On a now-defunct “local musicians” site, I came across a young pianist with a quirky but haunting voice, and I fell into a rabbit hole of discovery. Grace Freeman was obviously not old, but age has nothing to do with the ability to create beautiful art, as is evident in one of the first song of hers I heard:
Bear in mind that the girl is just NOW 18, something that came out during the show last night. The songs you’ll be hearing throughout this post all feature her at a younger age than that, even down to when she was only 13-14! What the heck was I doing when I was that age? Nothing even remotely this talented, I can tell ya that!
Finding Grace led me to learn of her duo-group, Gal Musette, with a fella named Brent Samson. Inspired by The Magnetic Fields’ album, 69 Love Songs, whose lead songwriter Grace attributes with her interest in songwriting, together Gal Musette sought to learn the skills of crafting songs by creating a non-album of 70 Love Songs.
From there, I finally found the titular musical collaboration we’re here to discuss — The Moon Police. A combination of Gal Musette and another duo, consisting of Sasha Evans and Doug Miller, I strolled through their entire SoundCloud offering without stopping. Okay, I did stop, but only to replay a song here or there. Fun little story about the group’s moniker, as retold by Grace during an interview I found online: while discussing what to call themselves as a new group, soft-spoken Grace asked, “Can it having something to do with the moon, please,” which was misheard as “moon, police.” So, anyways, I kept this great little group on the outskirts of my radar, but as soon as I found them, it seems, they stopped playing together. What I found out last night was that Sasha ended up getting married and moving across the country, so that’s what put a nix in the group playing together. They’ve continued on collaborating, though, through the wonders of the Internet, and I’m very glad they did!
Earlier this week I randomly decided to check on my local community theater playhouse to see what auditions were up next, and at the bottom of the screen I saw a notice that The Moon Police would be playing there. In cartoon fashion my eyes bugged out and I did a spin in my chair (not literally, mostly because my chair doesn’t spin), as I couldn’t believe the luck! Grace and Brent are still playing together as Gal Musette, but anytime I’ve found out about a public show they’re doing, it’s been either after the fact or at a time when I’m not free. So, this little group of musicians that I’d grown quite an interest in seeing was finally available to be heard in person by my little ears, and I was going to make darn sure of it!
Finally, we get to last night. The Cabrillo Playhouse is a tiny little place, with just 66 seats, but that’s all the better for a more intimate experience between artist and audience. I’d auditioned there once before but never actually taken in a show. It’s about as charming and quaint as can be, with a lovely patio for before-show and intermission waiting, too. Rebecca and I took our seats, and then the show began.
And oh what a charming show it was :).
It was a low-key event, in that song transitions weren’t a smooth, polished affair and little technical hiccups were an acknowledged part of the show, but darn if it wasn’t a great time! The Moon Police are almost reminiscent of a lighter, more-French-than-Russian Devotchka and The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but ya know what… comparisons usually don’t do any of the groups full justice, and that’s certainly the case here. The implementation of vocal harmonies, an exceptionally talented violinist, two-person-piano-playing, a melodica, a thrift-store organ, and a sense of classic style really leaves The Moon Police feeling their own thing. Folksy, touching, fun, and feel-good are the actual genres I’d put this group in, but above all else they’re just a very talented gaggle of people. Their ability to work together, both on rehearsed material and improvised, made for a wonderful experience. Through upbeat pieces like “Sister Sadie” or “Rush” I couldn’t help but stomp my feet along with the rhythm and cheerfulness, but then when they played through one of Grace’s old songs that the band re-purposed, “Oliver,” it pulled my heart up on stage and left me a little teary. I wasn’t the only one touched on such an emotionally fulfilled level, either, as I noticed a very lovely woman with similarly moist eyes during the intermission — not from sadness, but just because sometimes that’s the only way the body can express feeling so many things. But that’s what great music does, and these band members do it all… the gals write the majority of the songs, but they all sing, play various instruments, and it’s like a potpourri of talent that graced us with its aural aroma last night on stage. Of course, part of the magic of a live show is the shared experience, one that can’t be duplicated simply by listening to songs (as great as they are), and for that I am extremely grateful that The Moon Police play together because I walked out of that theater on air, a cloud under my feet. Not to mention the slight ache in my face from smiling practically non-stop all night long :).
Regardless of the fact that you weren’t there, though, if you’d like to experience a taste of all of that, yourself, the band haphazardly live-streamed the show to Facebook — it looked to be a phone/camera sitting in a paper cup taped to the wall, and it even fell down midway through ;). But hey, the video is mostly there, and I’m very glad to have a recorded memory of my exact experience. Plus, if you scroll through to Intermission time, at around 1:15:00 you’ll see a certain dashing blog-writer and his very lovely companion walk in but then stop and hang out in the doorway…
The Moon Police are an absolute gem — a collection of individuals I wouldn’t be surprised to find as the quirky, endearing cast of characters in a lovely little movie: the dynamic “leader” vocalist, the quiet/shy “serious artist” who ends up being the break-out, the wacky old guy, the fun showman drummer, and the low-key bassist. I mean all of these descriptors with the utmost respect, as well, with the full acknowledgement that they’re all much more than a caricature. I believe the band is back on hiatus, with Sasha returning to Michigan, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back again… and it definitely doesn’t mean the others aren’t still around!
So, give the actual show I shared above a gander/listen, or check out the group’s SoundCloud page and take in the full album… but if ya love what you hear, I highly suggest you throw these folks your support and pay for their music. As Brent jokingly mentioned last night, their equipment is falling apart, so buying a CD is just as likely to go towards buying a new mic stand as it is to buying them a sandwich. I’d love to see these folks make it in the business, to whatever level they each aspire, and I’m glad to do what I can to help!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s about time I took the dusty piano cover off of my keyboard and start re-teaching myself how to tickle those ivories again — because as I was reminded by The Moon Police last night, music is good for the soul :).
And a special note: I couldn’t have asked for a better +1 than who I had with me! So, to her… I may have wasted your $0.50 using a pier-scope to determine that the rocks in the ocean were exactly what the sign right in front of us said they were, but your $20 CD purchase will be treasured for always! I don’t know anyone who would have appreciated the beauty of the evening on the same level that you did, so thanks for joining and being Great Company :).