White light rock 

Feel the musical voodoo rising with Dead Moon

There are very few bands left in this world that deliver serious un-tampered-with and unhinged rock and roll not influenced by punk or metal in any way, shape or form. Yeah, a statement like that could send me walking the plank. The crossover aspect is awesome when it’s done to the hilt. Bands like Candy Snatchers, Celibate Rifles and Missoula’s own long-gone Everyday Sinners are definitely all-out rock and roll, but they have an undeniable punk influence that they’ve incorporated with envious results. The connection of the two genres is inevitable, vital and the best thing since the invention of the freakin’ jelly doughnut. But when we’re talking straight up rock and roll, and not some oldies-revisited touring circuit or lame cover band, what can one really expect that hasn’t been expected before? Check out one of the few.

There’s something about Dead Moon that sets them apart from just about everyone else. An invocation of a spirit not religious, but rather a force felt in the body like musical voodoo. You don’t know what it is but it’s there. Before a Detroit show I saw them play long ago (and somehow not long ago), I had heard talk both descriptive and vague, as if people had a hard time defining their love.

Guitarist/singer Fred Cole, bassist/singer Toody Cole and drummer Andrew Loomis delivered a blistering set of true-to-form rock with such an edge—it wasn’t technically a punk thing but it had that same bite. It was a dark form of music with too much hope brimming over the sides. Nothing evil drove the music; it was more raucous and proud than anything. It was a shakeup, total honesty mixed with their demanding presence and hellcat blues closer to AC/DC than take-your-pick of these up-and-coming juniors from the aforementioned Motor City.

And include some white light. The white light was from a white candle on Loomis’ drum kit, which sat right at the front of the stage. A clueless deb swooning in front extinguished the flame during the set and in turn, Loomis extinguished her with a condescending bit of phlegm. Lesson #1: Don’t fuck with the white light.

Fred Cole had had many bands and many moons under his belt before the rise of Dead Moon. During the ripe hippie years it was a band called the Weeds and it was at this time he met Toody Conner, who was working at a club in Portland. They say everyone has a soul mate, and sometimes it’s true. They married and moved around and had some kids and Fred continued to play, though by this point the Weeds had the psych-friendly moniker of the Lollipop Shoppe ,whose single “You Must Be A Witch” appears on the first Nuggets box set. To supplement the family income, they opened an instrument shop, Captain Whizeagle’s, that became the base for many of their musical enterprises, including their Whizeagle Records label. The ensuing years were bits and pieces of music projects, with Toody joining on bass and vocals with the advent of the Rats, and continuing to evolve as Fred did. There must have been an alignment of the planets when bartender Andrew Loomis completed the triumvirate, edging Fred and Toody out of the “weird-ass kinda country and western” they had been playing. The one and only Dead Moon line-up played its first gig on Sept. 17, 1987.

On their 15-year anniversary, they can look back and reflect on what an admirable trail they’ve blazed. Nothing in terms of the so-called goals for material success in the biz, Dead Moon wields a realistic and self-sufficient ethic that should serve as a standard for all musicians. They are truly full-on independent, with their re-christened label Tombstone Records’ impressive catalog of their own music as well other artists. Captain Whizeagle’s morphed into Tombstone Music, located in Clackamas, Ore., home to a recording studio and a 1954 Presto-88 mono disc cutter (i.e., they can and do produce their own vinyl). It’s a pretty damn near-perfect setup. With Dead Moon it’s about being in charge of the music, no question, but it’s also about love and family. If you pay attention to Fred and Toody on stage, a certain line will be sung and their eyes will meet, then the knowing smile shared between the two. That’s what you call true love.

And they obviously love to play live. It may sound like a cliché, but when you get the chance to swap energy with Dead Moon during their performance, you get it all back tenfold. It’s white magic reciprocating like a mad cyclotron through pure sound alchemy and then you realize that it’s just music and that’s all it ever is supposed to be. This stuff could change your life. Viva la Dead Moon and all the elements that sail with them.

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