Merchants of Moonshine
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Merchants of Moonshine

Redondo Beach, California, United States | SELF

Redondo Beach, California, United States | SELF
Band Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"KKGO 105.1 Interview "M.o.M. under the Shawn Parr Spotlight""

On-Air Interview w/ M.o.M. and Shawn Parr on KKGO GoCountry 105.1 (Los Angeles)
September 7, 2007

Shawn: Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, they are usually going to bed at this time of the morning. They are up nice and early this morning. Please welcome under the Shawn Parr Spotlight, our dear friends, Merchants of Moonshine! What’s going on? Who’s on the phone?

MoM (all): How are you doin'? This is Chris, Chris, and Melissa.

Shawn: We call ‘em Texas Chris, Ohio Chris, and the lovely Melissa! (Melissa giggles, Shawn laughs) Here’s the really good news about Merchants of Moonshine. The first time I ever saw them, it was at a place in Redondo Beach and I walked in and, man, you could feel this vibe in the room, this energy in the room as soon as they took the stage. It was like BAM, so I fed off of your energy, touché! It’s time for you to feed off of ours…

Texas Chris (MoM): I just wanna’ say Hi to everybody in the GoCountry Nation and I wanna let everybody know, y’all are always telling us at our shows “Be careful when you’re driving home, be careful, you’ve been drinkin’, it’s late” and all of this stuff. You know, y’all be careful early this morning. It’s hard to drive a car when you’re tired like this. It’s hard to go to work, and work, when you’re tired like this…

Shawn: Yeah, but see our volunteers, they are so used to being up, this is like noon for most of us. Right (Robin). You gotta come over to our side of the clock, and I understand being out late at night. You guys, first of all, you probably carry more than one job because you are so good at what you do late at night, and I know a couple of you have jobs during the day, too.

MoM: That’s right. Absolutely.

Shawn: I love the fact that, okay, all three of you are together right now. How is it that you are in the same place? Do y’all live together?

Texas Chris: Well, no. A couple of us live in Redondo and we got the other one on 3-way here. So, we’re all linked up through the phones here…

Ohio Chris: I’m actually hangin’ out in Long Beach right now and they’re out in Redondo Beach.

Shawn: Now Robin, I know you haven’t seen these guys live, but I’ll tell you something. There set list is unlike any set list I’ve ever heard, of any band ever! You wanna talk about a traditional band. Guys, let’s talk about how you actually select your music.

Texas Chris: Yeah, boy, you know it started off, we were doing a bunch of old music. We grew up in Nebraska, Texas, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, everywhere but out here and we all met out here. We all grew up listening to Willie and Waylon and Merle and even older country than that: Hank Sr. and Merle Travis, all that stuff. You know, we were playing in other bands out here and we had an ear on the country scene. We wanted to create a band that kinda’ incorporated that older sound into a modern country. Then when you get the dance crowd out here and the people in California, you know Shawn you’re out there with the line dancers, you got all of them. So we had to kinda modify our set to please them on top of pleasing ourselves.

Shawn: Yeah, but still, the good news about that is, though, you find songs that are the classics, from the Merle’s, from the Waylon’s, from the George’s, and you actually play the songs that go with the dances. And I love that about you guys! That’s what I think really makes you guys so unique… Now let’s talk about the music that we have that we are gonna play this morning. It’s a great song called “My Highway”

Ohio Chris: It’s a good tune, my buddy Texas Chris actually wrote that tune…

Texas Chris: It’s track one on our new CD that just came out a few of months ago. It’s funny, I wrote a few songs on this CD trying to write love songs. I found it’s hard to write a successful love song when you’ve been unsuccessful in love. That’s kinda how it came about, but this is the closest thing to a love song we really have. It’s a lost love song and it’s pretty much the closest thing that we have and it kicks off our CD there on track1.

Shawn: I love it. Alright, uh, Mel, don’t be left out girlfriend! They got you up nice and early.

Melissa: I’m right here! (laughing)

Shawn: How is it working with all of the fellas all the time? Because you are not to be outdone on that stage: your energy, your passion, and your voice is magical!

Melissa: I just feel so lucky to be on stage with the musicians that I’m on stage with. I mean, that’s all I can really say! They’re great, and I feel like when you’re on stage with a bunch of great people you’re gonna look great too. So I think they make me look better…

Robin: Well, it’s obvious you’re the boss anyway, because, you know you’re the only female in the group.

Melissa: I know, right? Ha (laughing), well don’t be fooled! (Laughs)

Shawn: w-hooo! Well, let’s crank it up right now. Let’s put you guys under the Shawn Parr spotlight. It’s Merchants of Moonshine! Do you wanna say “Hi” to anybody this morning?

Texas Chris: Yeah, I’d love to say Hi to all of the Moonshiners out there. This gives a new meaning to the word Moonshiner. I know they woke up to hear us with you this morning, Shawn and Robin. If you’ve never been to a show, that’s the best thing about our show is our friends that come out. So come check ‘em out and meet ‘em all…

Shawn: Absolutely! And you got the CD, and you got the merchandise, and you got just about everything else. You got it goin’ on! Merchants of Moonshine everybody! (applause)
- transcript

"KTDD 1350 Interview "M.o.M. w/ Bill Georgi""

On-Air Interview w/ M.o.M. and Bill Georgi on KTDD The Toad 1350 (Inland Empire)
August 31, 2006

Bill: I’d like to welcome to our Toad phones, a couple of guys, you know this is kind of an honor. How often do you have a chance to open for a guy by the name of Rodney Crowell?

Chris: Man, we’re so excited… it’s unbelievable!

Bill: Are ya?

Chris: Really cool. Um, it’s really weird. We got the gig four or five months ago and we were supposed to headline this thing. And they told us “You may actually be opening for a big name act, but we’ll let you know later”. And then about two and a half months ago we got the phone call that it’s gonna be Rodney Crowell. It’s some of the best news I’ve ever heard. It’s awesome!

Bill: Wow! Now, I’m speaking with a couple of gentlemen here from the Merchants of Moonshine. Introduce Yourselves.

Texas Chris: My name’s Chris, I’m Texas Chris.

Ohio Chris: I’m Chris also, out of Ohio. We kind of separate ourselves by our home states of Texas and Ohio.

Bill: So, how long have you guys been playing together?

Ohio Chris: Oh a good 7 years, 8years, 9 years, I don’t know.

Texas Chris: Yeah, we both moved out here not intending to do country. We met in a funk band. We were both playing saxophone. We did that for about 5 years. I found out he was from Ohio, and he found out I was from Texas. We started jamming country on the road in between these funk gigs, and when the funk band went down the tubes we started playing country. It really took off for us out here in L.A. It’s been a good time.

Bill: You know, I like the quote on the website. It says “We never play a song we don’t like ever, for anyone!”

Texas Chris: It’s been different, I think the reason it took off for us so quickly out here is because we are a bunch of young guys. We probably have a mean of about 15-20 years on any of the bands out here and we’re doing older country. So it’s really different. A lot of people haven’t heard this modernized traditional sound that we push. We are incorporating all of these other styles that we come from. We have players that have played classical, jazz, rock, funk, blues, in this band that we are incorporating into this new traditional sound. A lot of people haven’t heard it on the radio, or at least pop radio. You guys do a great job on this station. I love the Toad’s choice of music! But a lot of people haven’t heard this, especially kids our age haven’t heard this old country sound because it’s been pretty poppy mainstream for about 20 years now.
Bill: Alright, so where are some of the places you guys normally play, out here in the I.E.?

Ohio Chris: Well, we have played out in San Bernardino. Around here and there. We’ve been playing a bunch of gigs at a bunch of places, as much as we can because we’ve been having a blast. We like to do things right. Everywhere really, from down in San Diego, out to Vegas, and up in Bakersfield, along w/ the local circuit. We’re having a real good time with it.

Texas Chris: We did play out at the Brandin’ Iron for quite a long stint out there for about a year when we got started. We did some gigs out in Claremont and Montclair, but we haven’t been able to get out to; we have a lot of friends and fans out in that area and we haven’t been able to get out in that area for a while. So hopefully they got the tickets to come to Big Bear because it’s a real special thing they’re doing up there.

Bill: Well, now, you guys have been together, what you said, playing country, for the past 5 years or so?

Texas Chris: We’ve been doing country in this band for about 2, a little over 2 years. We got into the circuit out here about 2 years ago.

Bill: Alright, a very special performance. You guys are going to be opening for Rodney Crowell this coming Sunday night at the Starlight Ballroom there at the Big Bear Convention Center. You guys have a wonderful time! Have fun with Rodney… Thank you Chris, Ohio Chris and Texas Chris.

Texas Chris: Thanks Bill, thanks to all of the fans of the Toad!

Bill: Thank you. Merchants of Moonshine!
- transcript

"Edgewater Country Hoe-Down"

With a name like Merchants of Moonshine, you gotta figure this band doesn't take life too seriously. But when it comes to music, this group does get serious--serious about having fun. Fun is the name of the game at the Edgewater's Hoedown, combining classic barbecue and rockin' country music.

They stick to playing music they like, weeding out the stuff they don't, and a lot of what they play encourages smiling, and quite often, dancing. They've learned that music- the right kind of music- will keep the two-steppers from kicking the crap out of the line-dancers, or taking out that guy flailing his arms around, doing some kind of steps the modern world has never seen before.

Whatever their formula, it seems to be working because Merchants of Moonshine are invited back everywhere they play. In other words, they know how to mix it up so that everyone has a good time.

This 'moonshine' was distilled from more than just one type of grain. In fact, it was a wonder it was distilled at all.

For example, group co-founder, Chris Brown, was a saxophonist in an all-original funk band called Capital Pusher; Anthony King was influenced by classic rock radio but expanded his musical horizons with jazz and jazz fusion; Melissa Bernadt studied opera, musical theater, art songs, and jazz while playing piano, coronet, and the french horn; Paul Van de Riet focused on classical percussion and piano in college, eventually becoming principal timpanist for the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra; Dale Jennings' background is with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing upright bass while also gigging and recording styles such as funk, punk, pop, country, African, jazz, Irish folk, and blues; and Chris Hancock... well no one's sure what musical paths this guy has travelled because he hasn't gotten around to writing it down yet.

But that philosophy of people who are supposed to be together find each other is totally in effect here. At first glance it doesn't seem odd that a bunch of L.A. musicians found each other, but what's strange here, they got together to play country music in a land where exploring alternative flavors of music is readily encouraged.

In addition to changing gears musically, some band members changed instruments altogether. They came to realize how much they had in common. Now, in Merchants of Moonshine, Brown plays acoustic guitar and sings lead and back-up vocals; Van de Riet plays drums; Hancock plays acoustic guitar, also singing lead and back-up vocals; Bernadt plays mandolin and sings; King is on electric and acoustic guitar, in addition to mandolin; and Jennings plays electric and upright bass guitar.

Their music is a combination of their lives and musical experiences. It is based in the spirit of tradition found in early country music, southern rock, and it has to come from the soul.

Chris Brown talked about the band and how they evolved into the party band that travels to the Edgewater to perform.

Q. With such different musical backgrounds and coming from different directions--jazz, classical, and funk-- what brought you all together to play country music?
A. It was really weird. We are from all over the country, but we met out here. Chris and I, the other lead singer, were in an alternative funk band for five years--and that was the only thing we did. When we started going out on the road, we started getting to know each other and we discovered we both appreciate country music. So we started picking up guitars and messing around with them. When the funk band died, he and I were over the band thing, but our musical relationship magnified. We got another guitar player and a keyboard player--they were from the same funk band and we started playing together, just messing around. We weren't that good, we didn't know how to play our instruments. Then we started getting serious and started attracting serious players. Things evolved. We still had three members from the funk band and through friends and other musicians who knew someone who knew someone else--through our connections to L.A. music-- we eventually found the rest of our members. It was basically a bunch of guys waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory putting together a country band--and we've been doing it about five years now.

Q. Country music in L.A.? Did you find work?

A. One of the reasons we decided to do the full band thing is there is a small circuit out there. Clubs do well because they are a niche market and that's why we moved to the top of the circuit so quickly. There aren't a lot of bands playing this stuff out here. We have one radio station that plays the pop stuff, not the classic country. Older bands out here play the older style, but the younger crowd isn't too into the older guys. The older people are not completely sold on the younger style of country. We are a combination of both. We like the older stuff and we hit it off with both crowds. We've revived the older music but we've put a little more punch into it--and it took off immediately. Nashville has been playing pop-rock/country over the last 20 years. Most pop radio listeners haven't heard the classic style in about 25 years, some people haven't heard it at all--some of the younger generation hasn't heard Merle, Waylon, or Willie. We revived the whole movement in the L.A. circuit. Being part of a small circuit, we started working 5-8 gigs a month, which later expanded to 10-15 gigs a month all over California. Every other month or so we do mini road tours to venues in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Right now we are focused on our second album and touring locally.

Q. How did you end up with a gig in Laughlin?
A. We won the Colgate Country Showdown competition a couple of years ago and we got a gig at the Riverside. It was a corporate gig, it got us out here again. This time we'll be at the Edgewater. It's our first full band public thing and it looks to be a big, fun time!

Q. Are you perfectly happy working gigs? Are you chasing the record deal at all?
A. Right now, if we get it, great, but it's not really our goal. We'd love to get signed and have it all. Our first record was with an indie label and that was a mess. We ended up buying ourselves out of it. It was out of control. We prefer owning our own music and putting it together ourselves. Going the indie route again would be like giving someone a piece of what we already built--none of that has turned our heads. We wound up making the second album exactly the way we wanted it. We're happy with it. As a result, we've built our own fan base.

Q. How much of the music you perform is original?
A. That depends. We do some singer/songwriter nights and a lot of showcase gigs with guys like Hal Ketchum, and other big national acts. If it's one of those, it's all-original stuff. Forty-five minutes at a college, it's all original. But the pop circuit gigs are usually 4-5 hour nights and folks like to hear some covers, so we mix it up. That's what they want at Edgewater. We'll probably have 2 or 3 covers per set this weekend.

Q. You have an extensive and varied setlist. How do you decide what to include, what not to include?
A. We mainly just try to talk to people before and during the show. If it's a rodeo crowd, like this weekend, we normally play some songs by George Strait and Chris Ledoux to get started and pull in the audience. We go in with ideas beforehand, and modify as we go depending on crowd reaction. Dancing plays into it a lot.

Q. What songs get the most response fom the crowds?
A. That's a tough one. There are a lot of tunes different folks like. I have to say we get our biggest response, lately, to one of our new originals, "Back Porch". It brings everybody in. We have alot of fans that like alt country. It's a song written by my uncle from Dallas. We were on tour there when he brought the tune to us. It's about one of our family traditions of sitting on the back porch, drinking a little whiskey, relaxing, having a BBQ, and group singing. We've found it applies to all people, everywhere. We are kind of the party band and people are drawn to that escape. That songs hits home with that crowd.

Q. We like your philosophy about fun being the most important part of the band. Is that how you keep the egos in check? Is that even a problem?
A. Egos have never been a problem. It's really sweet the way our band has naturally evolved. That's what is so great about it, all of us shine in our own way. We've been a solid unit for five years. We all have ownership, we've all found our place, and it works...naturally. There's always little things we are constantly working on, but our relationship has been solid all along.

Q. What can audiences expect when you perform in Laughlin?
A. Expect fun. Expect to be as much a part of our show as you want. Expect to hear great music and see people who love playing/performing it.
Rodeo crowds get along well with us, I don't hesitate to say they love us. We've performed at many rodeos including National Finals Rodeo in Vegas. People will like our music and our style, though most have never seen us, despite the fact that we will be bringing many Cali friends. They'll enjoy our honest style, the original songs, and the spin we put on the cover tunes they have heard many times before. - Entertainer

"CD Review: Merchants of Moonshine"

By Fabio Boi Angelini

As a record producer, my mind tends to shift into "professional mode" when I listen to a new CD. I start paying attention to the quality of the recording, the vocal delivery, and which song has radio-play potential. This wasn't the case with the self-titled, eleven-song release from Merchants of Moonshine. I listened like a fan.
This L.A.-based band delivers a pure roots-country sound, with an honesty that lets you forget about the industry cliches, and hits you right at the core of your sole. After all, isn't that what music is all about?
Merchants of Moonshine is a six-piece band, fronted by two male vocalists, Chris Brown and Chris Hancock, and one female vocalist, Melissa Bernadt. Lead guitarist Anthony King, bassist Dale Jennings, and drummer Paul Van de Riet provide the rhythm section.
With Brown and Hancock on acoustic guitar, as well as vocals, the sound of this fun, down-to-earth group exudes a barn-like, folksy vibe, but always carries an edge similar to outlaw-country icons like Cash, Willie, and Hank. This duality is well-balanced throughout the record, and is definitely emphasized by alternating the lead vocal from male to female. So while on one side of the coin you get some line-dancing favorites (just listen to "Country Love") and, on the other side, you get stripped-down, melancholy waltzes like "To the Bottle", and my very favorite, "Bring on the Whiskey".
When it's all said and done, Merchants of Moonshine comes across like a friendly bunch of folks who love playing country music, without being worried about the latest Nashville trend. Just as their name suggests, they're just out on the back porch, having a darn good time with a couple of guitars and a bottle of 100-proof! - Cal-Country Magazine (Vol.1, Issue 1)


"Just a Swig" (EP) 2005
"Merchants of Moonshine" 2006
"More than Whiskey" 2009 (re-released 2012)



While playing funk-rock saxophone in all of the "Pay-to-Play", "High Profile" venues of L.A.'s intense music scene, Chris and Chris decided to slow down, pick up a couple of acoustic guitars, and play some Cash, Willie, and Hank. This was soon after discovering they were both pretty much raised on the stuff, being born in Texas and Ohio. They figured if they were lucky they could hit up a corner bar for a few free beers and maybe pick up on some ladies by offering up a few of these childhood favorites.

Dissatisfied with the country music scene in L.A., they invited some friends to join in, took the name Merchants of Moonshine, and took aim! The first gig was a true hole-in-the-wall, playing for about 20 friends. Eight years, and approximately 600 gigs, later they have become southern California's premiere local Americana/Country band and now split time between L.A. and Nashville. MoM's latest album, "More Than Whisky", broke the top 100 on the Americana Charts and was played regularly on over 150 stations nationwide over the second half of 2012. They have shared the stage with Rodney Crowell, Zac Brown Band, Todd Snider, David Allan Coe, Billy Bob Thornton & the Boxmasters, Wade Hayes, The Blasters, Trisha Yearwood, Hal Ketchum, Little Texas, Asleep at the Wheel, Clint Black, Junior Brown, Will Kimbrough, Bo Bice, Neal McCoy, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and Phil Vasser. They have performed at several large fairs and rodeos, four of the largest being National Finals Rodeo (Vegas), the L.A. County Fair, the Honda Center, and Angels Stadium. They have played at many of those same "High Profile" Los Angeles venues including Viper Room, The Mint, and Key Club. Awards include South Bay Music Award's 2007 "Country Artist of the Year", Colgate Country Showdown's 2006 "California State Finalist", and they consistently break attendance records at most of the bars/clubs they frequent. They have been featured (interviewed and played) on Shawn Parr's "local spotlight" on KKGO 105.1 GoCountry. "Country Love" written by M.o.M. was used in a feature film entitled "Cut Off" starring Faye Dunaway, Malcolm McDowell, and Kurupt.

They have recently taken their show on the road with a series of mini-tours encompassing the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Nebraska, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. On these trips they have played staple venues such as Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" (Minneapolis/Detroit), Gilley's (Vegas), Museum Club (Flagstaff), Stubb's (Austin), Billy Bob's Texas (Ft. Worth), Adair's Saloon (Dallas) and a Blue Angels air show (Bossier City).

To what to attribute Merchants of Moonshine's quick success depends on who you ask. The fans (a.k.a. Moonshiners) will tell you it is the energetic live show and original songwriting. The band will tell you that it's probably because they are a group of younger musicians exploring and revitalizing an older style of country. Thus, the music appeals to all ages. The younger crowd is relishing it for the first time as "Nashville", via pop country radio, has been backing artists that sound more on the rock-n-roll side of country for the past 20 years. The older crowd is embracing M.o.M.'s modern translation of the country they grew up with. Or maybe it's best described in the two most recurring compliments the band receives:

"I ended up here tonight because of___________ (fill in the blank). Country music isn't my thing, but I love this band!"

"I enjoy watching your band because y'all truly enjoy playing music together. We can see it and feel it. Your energy pulls everyone in!"