August Moonshine
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August Moonshine

Topanga, California, United States | SELF

Topanga, California, United States | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"August Moonshine"

August Moonshine is the debut album from the wonderfully talented California-based musician Rich Mikolitch. The singer-songwriter recorded it at his home and played all the instruments (except some harmonica) and wrote almost the entire thing himself.

For me, it was instantly accessible musically, falling somewhere between Emmylou Harris and Russell Morris – not bad company at all. Mikolitch has blended acoustic arrangements punctuated with electric expressions of raw emotion into an enchanting bevy of songs that will seep into your subconscious with ease.

Opener “Angels In May” beautifully sets the tone for what is to come. It already has become a favorite of mine, no doubt due to its easy groove and introspective lyrics. Mikolitch’s voice is not that of a natural singer’s, but he uses it in a unique and endearing way. At times he sounds angst-ridden and other times sweetly romantic, but he delivers every note with soul, which was what drew me in instantly.

“I Don’t Know What It’s Like” follows next, and while lyrically its intentions may not be clear, musically it’s a definite high point thanks to some awesome bluesy harmonica by Brandon Farr and sweet harmonies by Rich and his wife Jessica. “Scared Of The Dark” is possibly the most “radio-friendly” song here. It was during my first listen with this track washing over me at 3 a.m. that I realized there was something special about what I was hearing. It’s wholly original and yet instantly recognizable, heartbreaking and defiant at the same time. A true gem.

“Full Of Grace” is right up my alley; an up-tempo acoustic arrangement augmented by a slow-burning electric guitar and Mikolitch’s torched vocal delivery makes for musical heaven. His ability to evoke varying emotions with his voice is most prevalent here. Lyrically, it’s one of the album’s most prolific statements: “And when the stars start to cave in / When I start to see the Devil’s grin / When I search my soul where within / Can you help me to see again?”

“Just For Now” and “Sunrise And Sunset” are next and sit very comfortably together. Their lyrical introspection is countered by some brilliant musicianship steeped firmly in the roots genre while at times flirting with country (not a bad thing); together they compliment the album very well.

“When I Wake Up” is another highlight and is a fine example of how quite often less is more. There are no drums here (as with the rest of the album), just bass and acoustic guitars driving the rhythm accented by a little percussion here and there. The album closes with the downtrodden man’s lament “Running Away” and leaves things on a rather somber note. Vocally, this is Rich’s most soulful performance as he once again delivers goods amidst a swell of raw emotion.

Overall, August Moonshine is a passionate expression of love and loss, all the while being a musical treasure trove of one man’s talents and the first of hopefully many more releases to come. Although there is a deep sense of soul searching going on, it thankfully doesn’t leave the listener as emotionally exhausted as some music can – you know, the type where the artist dumps all their shit on you so they can be rid of it themselves? Well, that’s not the case here, probably due to it being a rather short affair, clocking in at a tad over 30 minutes. This is great for those late nights that never seem to pass, but I don’t know if I’d play it on a brilliant sunny day when spirits are high – it could take you to a place you’d rather not be. - The Daily Vault - Mark Millan


Discography

August Moonshine:

1. Angels In May
2. I Don't Know What It's Like
3. Scared Of The Dark
4. Full Of Grace
5. Just For Now
6. Sunrise and Sunset
7. When I Wake Up
8. Running Away

www.augustmoonshine.com

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Bio

Arriving at a perennial street corner while signaling a caution to the wind, August Moonshine blends symphonic soundscapes and masterly woven lyrics into an exceptional debut effort. “I make music that I feel in my bones,” explains a seemingly shy but assertive Rich Mikolitch. “The stuff that my parents brought me up on, regardless of the genre, had passion…and I think that’s the most important component of any style of music. If nothing else, I think people can at least hear the passion I have for my music.” It’s with that same determination and borderline obsessive behavior that Rich wrote, played all instruments, engineered, produced, and mixed his first E.P., August Moonshine. Recorded at his home in Topanga, CA in 2007, August Moonshine challenges the listener musically and lyrically. From the opening progression of Angels In May to the final breath in Running Away, it’s a snapshot of a burgeoning songwriter whose journey is just beginning.

As with anyone, the road from yesterday to today is rarely an easy one, and Rich’s was no exception. Being raised a couple miles down the road from Newark, NJ, he’ll be the first to tell you that he spent a few nights sleeping out in the cold. Throughout those years, he developed quite a thick skin and eventually found the strength to chase down his dream. “When Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy of Wilco) says in War on War, ‘You’ve gotta die if you wanna be alive,’ that really struck a chord with me. You really have to be willing to strike out and lose everything to achieve your goals…and that journey is what shapes you into the person you become.”

The roots of Rich’s passion for music began taking hold at an early age. “I had been playing lead guitar since I was a young teenager, like 13 or 14,” he explains. “So when I came to L.A. a couple years ago, that’s what I was looking to do.” However, the music scene was much different than what Rich had expected and not everything went as planned. “Really, nobody was playing anything that I wanted to get involved in. I grew up studying guys like Clapton, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and Dicky Betts, Marc Ford…you know, great, great guitar players. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that many people were interested in that style of playing.” Stuck at a crossroad, Rich had to make a decision. “I remember thinking, I can either sit around playing guitar for nobody, or I can start to hone and refine the songs that I had written and do it all by myself. I figured, I didn’t know any of the rules, so in my eyes, there were no rules to break.” The result is a strikingly refreshing collection of songs that can only be described as, “…organic. I think that’s the best word to describe the album. It’s all just me in a room with a couple mics, a few guitars, a keyboard, my notebooks, and a bottle of wine…just hoping that the recording sounded OK.” With elements of folk, rock, blues, and country along with his unique, original approach to songwriting, August Moonshine is only one portrait of an artist who isn’t content to pigeonhole himself.

Having that vision and attitude paid off in 2007 when Touchstone Music and ABC contacted Rich and expressed an interest in licensing his music for their upcoming season of TV shows. “I’m not really sure what it’s going to be in yet, but it’s a great opportunity to promote the music and it gives me the sort of exposure you can only dream of. It’s just another way to get the music out there to people who might want to listen.”

Currently, August Moonshine can be purchased at CD Baby and/or iTunes, or you can find out more at www.augustmoonshine.com or www.myspace.com/augustmoonshine