by Woody Moise & Jeff Single
The Rogue Festival hits Fresno again from February 28 – March 9, and you can expect a lot of coverage before & during Rogue from KRL this year–maybe even some videos this time! Our first Rogue article comes from one of this year’s festival performers. The festival is still working on the website for this year, so keep checking back!
This year the Fresno’s annual Rogue Festival includes the debut performance of The Excursions (formerly Cool Reflection), with five shows during the first week of March. This multi-instrumental group plays classic rock, reggae, blues and Americana with a jazzy, improvisational touch. Original tunes and select covers, interpreted in a fresh way, feature dynamic interplay between instruments and complex vocal harmonies.
“Wow, how would I describe our music?” said Jeff Single, who plays guitar, bass, harmonica and sings in the band. “That’s a tough one. We have so many influences, and love playing so many kinds of music. We range from rock to folk to reggae to jazz, and more…you can hear all kinds of influences from Cream to Neil Young to Ziggy Marley to old and new blues, classical and jazz, and more, but its all our own style – we don’t try to reproduce music.”
This band has decades of experience— they have been playing together in various configurations (Mojo Risin’, The Fulton Street Experience, The Lost Dogs, The Kathleen Lane Band, The Stromatolites, Full Circle, Cloud Nine, Woody and the Midnights, and Cool Reflection) in coffee shops, festivals, private parties, fundraisers, and nightspots in Fresno, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. “Everything from living rooms to stadiums, and having a lot of fun all the way,” said Jeff. The core of this group formed in the late 90s with Gordon Parrish, Jeff and Woody Moise, playing blues and rock as the Fulton Street Experience, which did extensive gigging locally. Later Kathleen, Gordon and Woody formed the Kathleen Lane Band, primarily focused on Kathleen’s Americana acoustic material.
The modern incarnation began two years ago when Woody and Mike Brown joined Jeff and Gordon (and their former vocalist Fraka Harmsen) in Cool Reflection. “When Kathleen joined, and we had new material and her special vocal talent, we needed a new name to recognize the new and respect the past, so we became The Excursions.” (Jeff).
Woody, guitarist and songwriter, says, “Our aim is to have fun, make it dance-able and welcoming. We put a lot of energy, care and thought into each performance, and tailor each show on the fly to particular audiences. We are fortunate to play such a wide range of material.”
The Excursions’ music evolves from both acoustic and electric traditions. Jeff comes from Chicago and the blues is in his blood. He writes material with a timeless, propulsive energy that is infectious and right in the groove. His guitar playing is infused with great tone, and blues licks to make you smile and sway.
Kathleen has been singing gospel, folk and rock in Fresno for decades. Her music has passionate Americana roots. “My family was always singing and playing together when I was growing up. I think a big thing with this band is that we love what we play, we put our hearts into it, and the people who come to hear us enjoy the music and have a great time.”
“She’s the icing on the cake,” says Woody.
Mike is a multi-talented guitarist and keyboardist with an instinctive feel for music of many genres. His acoustic and electric guitar work, and keyboard textures weave subtly into the music, and his vocals are strong and pure. Mike’s music embodies a deep love of the land, family and friends. Mike: “The Excursions is the “formal” essence of my favorite playing style, which is playing around the campfire.”
Woody writes distinctive songs of universal appeal, and he is not restricted to any single genre—it all comes out of love for the transformative power of great music, no matter the label. He provides much of the original material in the Excursions’ repertoire. “Woody is a top caliber songwriter and musician. He’s a musical craftsman who never stops his quest for perfection” (Gordon, drummer).
Gordon is adept in many musical traditions. His steady beat and insight into song structure give the band its center and focus. Woody: “Gordon has an uncanny ear for important nuances of arrangements and vocal work that helps us be the best we can be. He is also a skilled drummer who can handle our widely diverse material, which is a considerable feat.”
“We are a true collaboration,” says Woody. “We each bring something different to the mix, “says Mike, “and together, it is more than any one of us could do.” The band loves to play, and welcomes old friends and new audience members. Please come out to see them at the Rogue Festival 2013 – you won’t be disappointed!
All of The Excursions Rogue shows are at Neighborhood Thrift (353 E Olive Avenue in Fresno’s Tower District). It is a comfortable venue, a few short blocks west of the Tower Theater, with great seating, stage, and sound.
March 1 (Friday) 8:30 p.m.
March 2 (Saturday) 2:30 p.m. Matinee
March 3 (Sunday) 7:00 p.m.
March 7 (Thursday) 8:30 p.m.
March 9 (Saturday) 5:30 p.m.