Jan 17, 2024
Moon Tree is a down-to-earth musical odyssey intertwining jazz, blues, country, and rock to create art built of timeless stories.
Have you ever sat cross-legged, captivated by your grandpa’s extraordinary stories? The mysticism and legacy within words passed through generations lasso your attention. A similar enchantment echoes from the sonic musings of Moon Tree. Hailing from the Muscle Shoals area in Alabama, the band, consisting of Jeremy Parvin, Greg Chapman, John (aka Chet) Hicks, Kevin Reed, and Grayson Wright, intertwines jazz, blues, country, and rock. They may be sharing some folklore, but these are no classic folk songs.
Band members contribute distinct elements. Vocalist Jeremy Parvin draws from Southern Baptist roots, infusing vocals with 70’s artists, blues, and southern rock influences. Guitarist Greg Chapman underscores the collaborative songwriting process defining the band. Drummer Kevin Reed injects high energy and jazz nuances. Chet Hicks, the bass player, emphasizes the band's melting-pot vibe with his musical experiences from across the country. And Grayson Wright, on keys, ties everything together with his incredible talent and youthful spirit.
Each of the guys brings their own flavor to their musical gumbo, creating a uniquely soulful blend. Just as each of their flavors is unique, so are their albums. Moon Tree’s journey through genres is evident, from the gritty jazz-and-blues blend of their debut to the country-blues rock of "Too Much Honey".
Moon Tree’s latest album, "Into the Unknown," released in October and immerses fans in a cosmic odyssey, merging 70’s hard rock sounds with blues and gives vibes reminiscent of The Black Crows.
Moon Tree’s streaming catalog is a musical space odyssey. “Footsteps and Stones” tells of one North Alabama man’s tribute to his indigenous ancestor through a hand-built stone wall. She walked for five years from Oklahoma to come home to the “Singing River” that is the Tennessee. Not only is this a testament to the tale, but it is a testament to Moon Tree’s journey in crafting musical masterpieces. Like the story they are telling, their art is being built of timeless stones. Inspired by the ethereal and space, "Into the Unknown" takes listeners on an epic celestial journey.
Mixed Alternative caught up with these down-to-earthers to learn more about what inspires their sound, how their name is tied to the Apollo 14 mission, and the recent release of their third album, “Into the Unknown”. Check out our conversation below, then be sure to follow them on social media and get lost in the ride.
MaM: In the spirit of Moon Tree's unique sound, each of you, in your own words, please give us a snappy introduction that captures the heart and soul of your musical vibe.
JP: I sing and don't play an instrument, which is probably best for all of us. I'm the front man. I was raised a Southern Baptist minister’s son. Gospel has always had a big influence. In my vocals, I draw a lot from 70’s artists with blues and Southern rock-and-roll influences.
GC: In Moon Tree, we all have different musical backgrounds. We come up with things on our own, then bring it together for everyone to work on it. We put it on vinyl and hope people will listen like they used to listen to music.
KK: I’m Kevin, the drummer. I’ve always played in more hard rock bands. Coming into this group, they weren’t necessarily a hard rock band, but they had really cool songs. We blended a little high energy with some of the jazz-type stuff they had going on. We build new things with each album. The first album is kind of jazzy, the second is kind of country, the third album is kind of hard rock stuff, and the next one … who knows what it's going to sound like? I try to help facilitate that as best I can by making it louder.
CH: I’m Chet, the bass player. I’d say the vibe of our band is what most of our shows have shown: a melting pot.
MaM: I’m glad you mentioned a melting pot. I was going to say Moon Tree's sound is a gumbo pot of gospel, classic rock, Texas blues, and jazz. How do these musical flavors come together in your songwriting to create something uniquely Moon Tree?
CH: There are a lot of different kinds of influences. Everybody brings something different and are from different backgrounds. I think that's what made Muscle Shoals so cool back in the 70s. It's really the same thing with us. We all try to come up with song ideas, and then we try to make it sound like Moon Tree. It always does. It's great!
JP: There's a tradition here [Huntsville, AL] in sort of making your own music and making your own fun. We really like working on the songs and getting them to that point. We all seem to gravitate toward the same musical point, which is really nice. We start off with the idea that's pretty raw; at the end, it's really refined. I think everybody's songwriting skills come into play, because everybody's bringing something to it in a creative way.
MaM: Chet, with extensive experience, you have been around the musical block, so to speak. Would you share how your diverse experiences help shape the band's process in creating original tunes?
CH: I have just played in so many different kinds of bands that when we started doing this one, it was easy. It was easy because it was kind of clear from the beginning. It was like ‘Ok, we're not really going to have any musical rules.’ We're just going to try to write the best songs we can write and get the best recordings we can make. There’s a lot of things coming from different genres since I played a bunch of different kinds. I was ready to do it [integrate genres]. A lot of what we do is really unspoken and understood between us.
MaM: The Moon Tree name is tied to the Apollo 14 mission … pretty cosmic stuff! How does this out-of-this-world connection influence your storytelling, especially when delving into themes like folklore, spirits, and alternative perspectives?
GC: The Moon Tree name came from the moon tree over at Ivy Green. Steven Tyler came here, and he hugged the moon tree. Whenever we saw that, it was like ‘Moon Tree?’ You know, that would be a good name.
JP: There was a forestry expert who went on the Apollo 14 mission with the astronauts. He orbited while they went to the moon, but he was tasked with taking some seeds up with him in the orbit around the moon. When they came back in the early 70s, they spread those out amongst all the forestry commission. They planted seeds in certain areas. There are lists online for them.
A lot of our music is inspired by ethereal things and space itself. Our latest album is titled ‘Into The Unknown’ and is very much in that lane, especially the title track, which is written by our drummer (Kevin). It has a very sort of, I don't want to say spacey, but let's say heavenly feel to it.
MaM: You’ve opened for heavy hitters like Jimmy Hall and Jefferson Starship. How have these experiences shaped your live performances, and can you spill the beans on a standout moment from those gigs?
GC: I just want to say we really appreciate everything we've had an opportunity to do. We've been very fortunate to play some shows like Jefferson Starship. It's an amazing opportunity to play those kinds of show. It gives you experience for future shows so that you're ready for anything that might happen. That makes you want to play better.
Whenever we opened for Nick Saban, that was quite fun. That was the first time I ever used one of those in ear monitors. It gave me experience. It’s those experiences that prepare you for when something big comes up.
JP: The show he is referring to was a charity event we were able to play very early in our career as a band together. We were very fortunate to play before Coach Saban was going to speak for the event, and it was great.
MaM: You guys just released your third studio album, “Into the Unknown”, in October. What fresh sounds or themes can fans expect, and what cool surprises should everyone be on the lookout for in Moon Tree's upcoming adventures?
KC: Hopefully, in the coming year, we're going to be playing in different towns. We’ve done Huntsville, Birmingham, and things like that. We want to spread out a little and really play behind this new album.
We're really proud of this album. It's still new. So, hopefully we're going to be coming to more towns, playing more shows, and writing new music. Tonight, we've been rehearsing and have already worked on four new songs. They're all kind of gelling together real good [sic], and it’s totally different from the last album. We're always kind of moving forward. There's never much of a down period in this band. We record an album, we put out an album, we play some shows, and then we do it all over again. That's kind of the way it goes around here.
JP: We also want to throw a shoutout to our superhuman keyboard sorcerer, who doesn’t always practice with us, because he is perfect and doesn’t have to! His name is Grayson Wright, and he is young and hip to what the kiddos like! He provides brilliant, often improvisational, chops on any style of piano/keys/synth, you name it!
Venture out a little further on your expedition and be sure to visit Moon Tree online at www.MoonTreeBand.com.
*Cover photo by Amanda Chapman
Erica Machen is a beast when it comes to consuming, writing about, and reviewing music. Got something for her? Reach out to email@example.com.