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Serious Moonlight

Kristi Kates - March 14th, 2011
Serious Moonlight... Moonlight Red brings a mix of instruments & influences
By Kristi Kates
Talking to Laren Corie and Donna Klein of Moonlight Red, one gets the
impression that they’ve been performing together for a very long time; but
in reality, they’ve only been working together for about a year, and had
to follow quite the twisting road to find each other’s work.
You’ll find that dynamic at work this Saturday when the duo perform at a
veterans fundraiser in Petoskey.
Klein moved Up North from Florida in 2005, and began rebuilding her music
career by performing locally. Living in rural Northern Michigan, Klein
explains, “can be isolating,” so the prospect of being able to connect
with other professional musicians was appealing.
Meanwhile, fellow musician Corie was working on his own goals, performing
solo, although it wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed - and he and
Klein had yet to meet.
“I didn’t like performing solo because I couldn’t use my skills as an
accompanist, such as arranging, harmony vocals, and playing various
instruments,” he explains, “I also do not have the right stage presence
for a solo musician - I love the interaction on stage with other
musicians, and I especially enjoy the dynamics of a duo. So I was really
on a perpetual quest for the right duo partner - I even toured the East
Coast, and spent some time in Nashville, constantly looking.”

POSTPONED BEGINNINGS
Back to Klein, who explains that she worked for a while with another local
pro musician, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
“We weren’t moving in the same direction,” she says simply.
Klein was scheduled to play for the closing of the 40 Mile Point
Lighthouse in October of 2009. Corie ran across the listing for the show
on the internet, and after looking up Donna’s musical credentials, thought
it might be interesting to play some music together.
“Then, she didn’t show up at the jam,” Corie says.
“I was unable to attend,” Klein explains, “unknown to me, Laren was
looking for someone local to connect with, and went to the gig to meet
me.”
The pair didn’t actually meet until last spring - a fateful day when they
met up at Chandler Park in Onaway to chat about the possibilities.
“We connected right away, and played music the whole afternoon,” Klein
says. “Our musics were very compatible, and singing together is
wonderful,” Corie agrees.
“And that was the beginning of Moonlight Red,” Klein says.

MANY INFLUENCES
Moonlight Red are perhaps best described as a folk group, although their
individual influences vary widely - and they’ve often been compared
vocally and harmonically to a stripped-down Fleetwood Mac.
“There is hardly a type of music that does not influence me,” Corie says,
“I was one of those weird musical children who listened to ‘Rhapsody in
Blue.’ Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ totally fascinated me. I took up mandolin because
there was one around the house; the result of growing up as a mandolin
player in Motown, with its hard-driving rock and roll, keeps me floating
between worlds, especially with Indian and Arabic influences. And my
influences for my harmonica style are a mix of bluegrass, Coltrane, Jeff
Beck, and Alvin Lee.”
Meanwhile, Klein’s musical favorites are clustered a little closer together.
“My main influence is the progressive movement of the 1970s,” she says.
“My favorite artist is David Bowie because of the variety of sounds he’s
explored through the years. I listen to all kinds of music and those
influences can be found in the songs I write - blues, power acoustic,
rock, jazz, and sometimes a twist of torch - one of our songs is even
influenced by the Stray Cats. I like to put my influences in the music
blender and see what comes out.”

ONSTAGE MIX
Both musicians sing, and each have their own writing style - they’ve yet
to write any songs together, but say that they complement each others’
work “very nicely.” Corie is a multi-instrumentalist, so in addition to
the guitars you’ll see on stage during a Moonlight Red performance, you
might also see (and hear) his famed mandolin playing, harmonica, violin,
an instrument that Corie has developed himself called a “giant mandolin,”
and possibly even flute, which Klein plays on occasion. It’s an eclectic
mix that adds a lot of depth to their performances.
“We will bring the full array of instruments to the show,” Corie says,
“and lots of variety in songs, which will be almost all written by Donna
and myself.”

Moonlight Red will be performing at the Petoskey American Legion’s Benefit
for Veterans on Saturday March 19 at 6 p.m. at 455 Bay Street in Petoskey
- an open mic show will follow. Attendees are asked to bring a
non-perishable food item for the food bank.

 
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