The Moho Collective
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The Moho Collective

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF
Band Rock Jazz


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The Moho Collective @ Johnny D's

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

The Moho Collective @ The Perfect Wife Restaurant & Tavern

Manchester Center, Vermont, USA

Manchester Center, Vermont, USA

The Moho Collective @ 3HB Music Festival at Park Ave fest.

Rochester, New York, USA

Rochester, New York, USA

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



Here’s a review of The MoHo Collective, who played at The Other Side on April 29, 2011.
O.K.–combine a kick-ass drummer, a guitarist who plays like he’s got four hands, and a bassist who lays down a beat you can feel in your neck–what do you have? Answer: The MoHo Collective.
The MoHo Collective visited Utica on Friday, April 29th, for their C.D. release at The Other Side. I had a chance to sit down with Kurt Johnson (guitar), Justin Rister (bass), and Ryan Barclay (drums) after their set. This is going to be part interview, part review–so let’s hit it.
For starters, if you couldn’t tell, I am very impressed by The MoHo Collective. Too often I feel like I’m stuck in a mud slurry whenever I listen to new music, so for once it’s nice to have an emotional reaction other than mental nausea or plain apathy to a band–euphoria, anyone?
A few basics about these guys: the three-man group is based in Rochester, N.Y. Their new album, The MoHo Collective, is on sale now, and they are actively promoting it throughout the region. Their website is
That concludes the basics.
So why do I like this group so much? Foremost is the fact that The Collective is one of the most versatile, on a purely musical level, of any bands I have heard in a while. On the one hand, they have the energy to drive a straight rock that will get you up on your feet–on the other, they have the skill as musicians to expand beyond the conventional 1-2-3-4 by weaving everything from jazz, to Indian (see Asia) folk into their own pieces. With such a blending of styles, The MoHo Collective’s sound is richly complex and contagious.
I asked the guys about their versatility and the music that has influenced them and Johnson chimed in quickly–
“I fucking love music,” he said. “As long as it’s sincere, I just listen to it. I listened to Indian music, grunge, The Allman Bros.” He nodded his head to imply a laundry list of others. We could have sat there all night.
“We just play what we want to play,” Rister concluded.
That shows clearly in their music. They played through all of the new album during their set, and ended with their own arrangements of songs by Thelonious Monk and John Lennon. (The album, incidentally, is well balanced, you could say nuanced, and actually does what albums are supposed to do–develop a theme. That’s rarer than you might think!) Midway through the set, they played a song that reminded me of a Buddhist mantra. It’s not every day a band can make you feel like you’re entertaining Cobain’s ghost one minute and sitting in a Himalayan temple the next.
“Rister does a lot of the arrangements,” Barclay said. “[He] sort of brings it all together.”
Bringing all these different sounds together is no easy task. A less talented group, or one that does not work as well together, would probably dissolve into incoherence on par with a tantrum-throwing 2 yr. old. But when your guitar player can go from a tone poem to a driving headbanger with ease; your bassist not only acts as counterweight to the lead guitar but spotlights his own melodic phrasing; and your drummer alternates between laying down automatic gunfire and booming Jovian thunder, it’s a sure bet you’re in for one hell of a time! The Collective manages the differences in style so that they accentuate each other: what you get is music that is crystalline in it’s refractory sounds that grow dynamically.
And this brings me to what I like most about this trio–the way Johnson, Rister and Barclay play together. It is at once virtuosic and spontaneous (you could say those things go hand in hand). This may have something to do with how the band formed, and how it composes its music.
Back in ’09, according to Barclay, who told the story, he and Johnson played two shows in one weekend before parting company for a short time.
“We were all working on different projects” Barclay said. But they had common ideas, and when they ran into each other again at a coffee shop, they decided to see what they could come up with. “We got together and just jammed.”
That was in August. They had their first gig in January of ’10.
“It really grew in an organic way,” Rister said.
Most of their music was written in that same organic way–playing together and listening to what developed. What you see in The MoHo Collective is essentially improvisation at its best. With improv (and The MoHo Collective), you don’t just hear tunes, you hear dialogue. It is the underpinning of many forms of music, including jazz.
“Jazz is an idea rather than a genre,” Rister said when I mentioned I thought I heard a lot of it in their songs.
“[It’s] the complete expression of what is happening in the moment,” Barclay said.
“Music is definitely a social event,” Rister added.
Johnson summed it up best:
“The Collective idea,” he said, “is not just a work–we want to bring people together.”
I can give them no higher compliment than to say they succeed completely.

The MoHo Collective will be in Utica again in July. On July 2nd, they’ll be at The Cafe Domenico and The Other Side, located at 2011 Genesee St., in the afternoon, and then they’ll head over to The Nail Creek Pub. On July 9th, they’ll be back at The Nail Creek Pub with 3 Heads Brewery to jam (and drink beer). For more details, and for the band’s 2011 schedule, check their

- Will Welch : SMUT Pages

You have to love a band that can appeal to artsy types, coffee drinkers, high-end diners and college hipsters. In the next few months, Rochester alternative-jazz trio The Moho Collective will perform everywhere from ArtisanWorks and Boulder Coffee to Tournedos Steakhouse and Lovin' Cup.

The Moho Collective is one of the best bands around when it comes to fusing the experimental aspects of indie-rock with pure jazz. Songs like "Wenindee" and "Chrome Lady" could serve as steady background music, while the stellar "The Grand Ballet" gives off a funky jam-band vibe.

The instrumental trio has many strengths, but one of the centerpieces is lead songwriter Kurt Johnson's impressive guitar playing. His sound can, at times, groove in and out of grunge rock to a sexier Jimi Hendrix-style blues-rock. Whatever your taste, The Moho Collective keeps you guessing. And it's refreshing.

For more, check out
- The Insider / Metromix

If your going to bring it live as an instrumental group you'd best have some pretty smooth chops and sense of selves. There's no lack here as reflected on this live compilation CD I was handed at The Utica Music Fest.

Tasty licks on guitar and pedal steel from Kurt Johnson, Justin Rister's smooth bass lines and Ryan Barclay's nimble percussion blend sweetly, rising and falling to each accent or flourish. They blend a myriad of influences into a sound singular to The Collective which feels like it could morph into just about anything at any moment. Hence their self-genrefication "Art Band" is quite apt as it feels like they're making it up or more likely coloring it as they go along. The feel is natural, the grooves infectious, the rhythms driving and the overall sense is dynamic.

With a new album in the works I'll save the long ink and send you off to see these guys live. Check out their extensive schedule at

I'll be looking for a copy of the new CD guys! Get at me.

Words by Greg Jackson - Upstate Live -New York State Music Guide-

"I'm Speechless". - WXXI

"Ecstatically satisfying". - WHRW


The Moho Collective - Live @ Cyber Cafe West (2010)
The Moho Collective - The Moho Collective (2011)



It takes talent to define a genre. It takes courage to defy genres.

Combining elements of progressive-jazz, funk, groove, rock, and world music, The Moho Collective, an instrumental trio from Rochester, NY, strives for a raw, open, and free-form sound. They accomplish that best through improvisation and dynamic song structures, proving vocals are not necessary to engage the listener if the music speaks for itself.

Driven by the rhythm of bassist Justin Rister and percussionist Ryan Barclay and adding intricate guitar from Kurt Johnson, the band also incorporates a host of established and homemade instruments, including pedal steel, didgeridoo, and various rhythm elements, effects, and samples. All three musicians have percussion experience, a big reason why the rhythm and energy can often drive the songs. Barclay trains with Medeski, Martin, and Wood drummer Billy Martin, bassist Justin Rister studies percussion with Kristen Shiner McGuire. Johnson brings his own experience in music, and trained with Indian musician Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, bringing elements of Hindustani classical music to the band's other varied influences.

The three musicians embrace the sentiment that music – like all art – is meant to be an experience for the audience. For that reason, the band's live shows are typically accompanied by guest musicians or, just as commonly, visual artists creating their own works driven by the band's sound. “At heart,” says Johnson, “we're an art band. It's about the experience: where we play, who we're with.”

Greg Jackson of -
Ryan Barclay -