Moonalice was the brainchild of the great producer, T Bone Burnett in 2007 because he wanted to create a band with a San Francisco 60’s sound. Moonalice plays mostly original material mixed with some covers, and during their extended freeform jams the band moves as one, drawing from many musical genres honed from years of experience playing with various major acts. All the band members are seasoned musicians and songwriters that include Barry Sless, Pete Sears, Roger McNamee and John Molo and occasionally others sit in, making for a 60’s style throwback with a Grateful Dead appeal and following. What makes them even more unique is not only their sound which is a fusion of Psychedelic 60’s roots – rock and improv, but also at every show they give out original art posters, each with a unique Moonalice “Legend.” All of their shows are broadcast live in HD and fans can catch them on their official website.
I had the opportunity to speak to Roger McNamee about Moonalice and their 60’s revival and this year’s BottleRock Napa music festival where they will be performing….
Sason Bishope Parry: How are you and how is life? Are you from the Bay Area?
Moonalice: I grew up in Albany, NY and first moved to the Bay Area in 1976.
SBP: When did you get into music and how?
MA: My parents and older siblings loved music and my parents liked big band jazz and folk. My older siblings liked rock like the Beatles, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Hendrix, etc.
SBP: Where did the name Moonalice come from?
MA: It came from the Honeymooners… Jackie Gleason used to say, “To the moon, Alice!” GE Smith came up with the name.
SBP: Did you always want to play music or did you have another career path?
MA: I always wanted to play music professionally, but did not have the economic wherewithal to pursue it after college, so I got a day job where my music skills proved to be very valuable. I wound up working in Silicon Valley, where my 250 song repertoire made me a key player at industry jam sessions.
SBP: How would you describe your music?
MA: Moonalice plays rock ‘n’ roll. Many people call us a jam band, but we hail from the song-oriented wing of jam banding more in the spirit of the Dead than Phish.
SBP: How do you come up with your lyrics and do you make all your own music?
MA: We play a ton of covers, but 2/3 of the set list is original. Pete Sears, Barry Sless and I each write songs. Mine tend to come from my life experience and the themes tend to be about love, hope, persistence and recovery. I also write some songs that are political, but they are also funny.
SBP: Who inspires you musically?
MA: My early inspirations were the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Hendrix and Hot Tuna.
SBP: Moonalice seems more then just a band, its seems kind of like a 60’s style movement?
MA: When the producer T Bone Burnett put our band together, he wanted us to live and breath San Francisco’s psychedelic era. We decided to have a poster for every show and a cool light show. Over time we added live streaming, first of audio, then video – it worked. Fans started making great art and bringing it to shows. Ditto for the farmers. The vibe at our shows is pretty much as it would have been 40 to 50 years ago.
SBP: How do you release your music?
MA: We broadcast video for every show, so fans get everything in real time. We have put out one full CD and 8 EPs. A new CD will come out this year.
SBP: You’ve got some amazing original artwork that goes with your music, tell us about that?
MA: We have published 916 posters in just less than 9 years, so we have a lot of art to choose from. I believe 35 artists have contributed to the series. Some you know, like Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse, David Singer, Grace Slick, and Prairie Prince. The rest we hope you will get to know!!’
SBP: So your playing the sold-out Bottlerock Napa festival with big acts like Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz and the Chili Peppers how does that feel? Is this an annual gig?
MA: We LOVE BottleRock!! We are lucky to have played all three BottleRocks so far and hope to do it forever! We have been fortunate to play at many of the largest festivals, including Bonnaroo, Lockn’, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and Summer Camp. We opened a stadium show for U2. Shows like that never get old.
SBP: What can we expect from Moonalice at Bottlerock and what time & stage do you play?
MA: Moonalice will be performing on Saturday, May 28th from 8:45 to 10pm on the Miner stage. As you know, I am also a member of the Doobie Decible System Duo with Jason Crosby, who will be performing on Sunday, May 29th in the VIP Village.
SBP: What other shows do you have coming up?
MA: Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System (Duo and Band) have a full tour schedule with shows throughout California in May and then we’ll be headed to the East Coast in early June. You can visit our website for all of the show details atmoonalice.com and ddsband.com
SBP: What’s the best way for people to find out more about Moonalice?
MA: Our website has the archive of all our shows, with HD video for the last 300: http://www.moonalice.com. Facebook is where we share everything: http://www.facebook.com/moonalice
SBP: So whats next for Moonalice?
MA: We look forward to releasing our new album!!!
Catch MOONALICE live at BottleRock Napa Music festival on the Miner Stage – Saturday, May 28th from 8:45 to 10pm.
Listen to “It’s 420 Somewhere” now:
For more info on Moonalice go to: Moonalice.com