Written by Eddie Ferranti
ImageCountry music in the mainstream these days has become a garbled mess of something that does not pay homage to the genre, but focuses more on slick videos, hot chicks and songs about trucks. That being said it was so refreshing to catch up with an Austin outfit by the name of Mike & the Moonpies recently at the fine Dosey Doe Music Cafe in Conroe,Texas.

This cohesive six piece band gives credit to the real country sound while not being afraid to amp it up and rock a bit, too.  Rose & I had our first glimpse of these dudes back in 2013 on the last day of the Viva Big Bend Festival in Alpine,Texas at a lil joint called the Railroad Blues. They had let it all hang out for the weekend and this gig came complete with a half gallon of bourbon being swigged through out their show. Now if that ain’t country what is?!

Lead man Mike Harmeier is in full control of this group and knows how to steer the ship quite well. His boogie oogie wiggle shuffle is most cool and was most prevalent from our vantage point in the balcony at this acoustically masterful venue.

“Damn Strait” from their album ,The Hard Way, opened the gig and MH’s Texas twang was superb along with keyboard work from John Carbone who is a stud musician. They followed that gem with what MH said would be their next single called “Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em” evoking the crowd by saying “all we need is some 2-steppers out here”.  Drummer Kyle Ponder and excellent pedal steeler Zach Moulton sequed smoothly on “Puttin’ It Down” with epic lyrics like “You may not believe a word I say, but I can promise you, you won’t be staying alone tonight.”

ImageIt’s rib stickin’ stuff like that that just flat out oozes pure country in a good way. Harmeier seemed so at ease telling the crowd how his wife made sure to tell him to bring her some coffee from DDMC , plus celebrating his grandma’s 80th birthday dedicating Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and telling all to “come get some cake”.

The venue was maybe 2/3’s full, but these cats put on a show like it was the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. Their sound definitely has more modern styles mixed in, but is heavily biased to the 60’s and 70’s era of country with laugh out loud lyrics like “I’ve been seeing other women at the bottom of a bottle” , “I ain’t nothin’ but a mockingbird playin’ all the songs I know” and “There ain’t nothing about leaving Texas that I’ll ever understand”.

Catlin Rutherford on lead guitar smoked when he was given a shot and bassist Preston Rhone shored up as the backbone all night.  A neat wrinkle to the gig was a shout out to pal and fellow Americana/country artist (and HMR bud!) Hayes Carll on self written tune, “Me and Hayes”, where Harmeier tongue-in-cheek style referred to those two like Willie and Waylon.

In a nutshell summary, these guys can write, jam and pay excellent homage to the legacies of true country music and do it more than justice in the process!   They can croon about heartbreak and love, but even on the sad songs they are from depressing.  This vibrant and enjoyable show is a must see if y’all are into the true spirit of country music one boot kick and shuffle at a time……….Peace and love live music will ya?!