MUSIC BOX: Beam up to planet Moonalice

By on March 31, 2015

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Moonalice. The name alone suggests an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque psychedelic trip through a Jetsons-era mind warp. Certainly Grateful Dead-inspired, the music of Moonalice is carefree and occasionally cheesy through its free spirit (“It’s 4:20 Somewhere”), with a jam-oriented throwback mentality to the psych-rock of the 1960s.

Venture capitalist and frontman of a hippie band aren’t typical part-time jobs that are paired together, but for 58-year- old Roger McNamee, either side of the coin is an investment toward potential returns. McNamee launched equity firm Elevation in 2004, which rallied to a worth of about $1.1 billion with good bets on Yelp and as an early advisor for Facebook.

Forming Moonalice in 2007, he wanted to go all in with respect to reaching fans and potential fans via social media. He dropped $100,000 on six video cameras, a satellite network for the top of the band’s vehicle, a website platform and other minute details to broadcast every Moonalice show to viewers with a basic 3G or 4G connection. Beyond the extensive media, he has arranged for every show to have an original art poster created by “a well-known artist,” memorializing that event and given to all attendees.

McNamee has surrounded himself with high-quality talent, including enlisting T-Bone Burnett to produce the band’s only studio album, 2009’s Moonalice. Rounding out the touring band is Barry Sless (lead guitar, pedal steel guitar, bass) of Phil Lesh & Friends and David Nelson Band; Pete Sears (keyboards, bass, guitar, vocals) of Rod Stewart’s band, the original Jefferson Starship, and Hot Tuna and drummer John Molo of Bruce Hornsby & The Range, John Fogerty and The Other Ones. Also on the road as the band’s manager is Grateful Dead family member and co-founder of Jerry Garcia Band, Big Steve Parish.

“We have a brand new light show that looks really great when you are high and Teton Village is very high,” McNamee said.

Moonalice, 10 p.m. Friday at the Knotty Pine in Victor; and 3 p.m. Saturday, under the tram in Teton Village. Both shows are free. jacksonhole.com.

JHMR closing weekend throws down with Moonalice, Mandatory Air, Head to Head, John Wayne’s World, and Naive Melodies: Tribute to the Talking Heads. (Photo credit: Moonalice)

JHMR closing weekend throws down with Moonalice, Mandatory Air, Head to Head, John Wayne’s World, and Naive Melodies: Tribute to the Talking Heads. (Photo credit: Moonalice)

Fly into past with Futurebirds

Athens, Georgia’s ambient psychedelic country-rock quintet Futurebirds has made Jackson a regular tour stop since fall of 2011, a time of sheer debauchery and over-the-top antics that made for a loose first impression. The band’s recordings, on the other hand, are inviting and thoughtful, encompassing a vibe that is tight within its roughness. An ambiguous darkness peeks through on the sophomore release, 2013’s Baba Yaga, which houses Southern rock rhythms with subjects of death and dysfunctional relationships. In a live setting, Futurebirds is a free-spirited jamband, inspired on a nightly basis to embrace the unknown — a quality that keeps relentlessly touring bands interested in their own performances and pushing the limits of their musical interaction.

“In some ways we’re like one organism with six brains, but at the same time everyone in the band is vastly different,” singer/guitarist/songwriter Carter King said. “We had five different songwriters in the band on Baba Yaga, with very different influences and inspirations. We get into the studio and people bring in their songs, and by the time we get done with a song, there’s a piece of everybody in it.”

“We all come from different backgrounds and chase different sounds, but when we play together there’s this weird dark chemistry amongst us,” added guitarist Thomas Johnson. “I can hear a song that someone else wrote and know exactly what I can bring to it, and the same goes for the others when they hear my songs.”

Futurebirds, 10 p.m., Sunday at the Town Square Tavern. $15. 307Live.com; 733-3886.

Futurebirds touch down with enigmatic allure Sunday at Town Square Tavern. (Photo credit: Futurebirds)

Futurebirds touch down with enigmatic allure Sunday at Town Square Tavern. (Photo credit: Futurebirds)

Head to Head headlines Garter

Local 20-year-olds Otto Wieters and Dan Sanford have immersed themselves in the world of audio engineering, production and drumming, forming Head to Head just more than a year ago. The melting pot of electro-soul, pop, EDM, hip-hop and ambient is their foundation — all thumped and pumped as a backing track — while the duo builds an acoustic aesthetic with live percussion.

Musically, it’s all about the groove, the backbeat, and the dance-friendly breaks.

Head to Head, 10 p.m., Friday at the Pink Garter. Free. PinkGarterTheatre.com.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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