Sol de Luna, formerly Bo Bossa, is a Latin inspired swing band that features six young multi-talented artists. Sol de Luna has only been together for four months, but has already turned one of Lil Bos slowest nights into one of their busiest, according to Sal Capone general manager at the night club.
Now on Wednesday nights the customers just come in to listen to them, Capone said. I just like their style -- they are always up there laughing having a good time -- they just are a good group of young kids, Capone said.
And Sol de Luna takes their music very seriously.
We are both trained in music theory. We are not doing basic stuff by any means; were doing stuff that professionals do, said A.J. Straw on lead guitar, referring to himself and bassist Stu Ford.
Sol de Luna has drawn in a different kind of crowd on Wednesday nights at Lil Bos, Capone said.
If you go to some of the bars around town, when they book a band its some kind of hard-rock band, and someone around the age of 30-50 doesnt really want to listen to that, Capone said.
Sol de Luna also draws in a number of swing dance and samba instructors on Wednesday nights.
There are four instructors that come almost religiously with their girl partners, Straw said. Its a real energy rush when people are getting tossed around.
Sol de Luna performs jazz, swing, blues, and samba; they also specialize in a Latin style of music called bossa nova. Most of the songs they play are covers that originated in the 1950s and 1960s.
Its fresh again; music has just gone so simple for so long, This music, the recording and the melodies are just timeless, said Ashley MacTavish lead vocals.
Bossa nova is a Brazilian style of music that originated in the 1950s. It combines basic drum rhythms and beats that are common to samba along with jazz guitar chords.
If you look at the history of the music, when bossa nova first came out, it had a huge impact on American jazz, said drummer Andy MacTavish.
Sol de Luna offers many Latin cover songs. They also cover blues and jazz classics such as Georgia by Ray Charles, and Moon-Dance by Van Morrison. Sol de Luna sings seven songs in Portuguese including The Girl from Ipanema.
HOW THEY MET
Straw, 28, lives in Traverse City, and studies music theory at Northern Michigan University. He and Steve Michanowicc, a former member of Bo Bossa, could be found frequently at open-mic nights around the area and at Lil Bos. Michanowicc is currently in Iraq serving with the National Guard.
It was because of Steve that we even got a gig in the first place. We miss him a lot, Straw said.
Capone was so impressed with Straw and Michanowiccs performances that he was willing to give them a regular night.
Steve and A.J. would always wait to the very end to go up there and play, because they play a different kind of music and Steve was so shy, Capone said.
Straw and Michanowicc also frequently played at Jacobs Well, a late night coffeehouse, in Traverse City. This is where they met Ashley MacTavish, 28, a nanny by day, lounge singer by night, and her husband, drummer Andy MacTavish. Ashley is the third member of the band who studies music at NMU.
I have pictures of myself holding a guitar when I was just an itty-biddy-little baby and I remember being about two-and-half singing up on stage with my dad.
MacTavish would step in and sing for the guys at Jacobs Well. This is also how they met their conga player Matt Toler.
Now they needed a bass player.
Stu Ford a sophomore at Elk Rapids high school is dual-enrolling at NMU specializing in music and jazz band. Ford got his start in music through piano, but he said it never really appealed to him.
I kind of wanted to get into that rock thing, Ford said.
Sol de Luna will be playing at Lil Bos every Wednesday night through July 5. They can also be seen this summer at Red Mesa Grill in Traverse City and the Harbor Days Festival in Elk Rapids.
Eric Pokoyoway is a summer intern at Northern Express who is covering local music and general assignment stories.