Yellow Springs’ Blue Moon Soup to appear at Canal Street Tavern
By Benjamin Dale
Greater Dayton is blessed with not only one thriving music scene, the envy of other cities of similar size, but also boasts a distinct yet complementary music scene in the neighboring hamlet of Yellow Springs.
While the Dayton scene continues to kindle a skuzzy, Midwestern Mad Max mixture of melody and mayhem, the music in Yellow Springs has simultaneously evolved next door and caters to a more pastoral, folky crowd.
“It’s like Ohio’s Haight-Ashbury,” said Ben Clonch, guitarist for the Yellow Springs band Blue Moon Soup, purveyors of a pulsating bluegrass version of psychedelia that could only evolve in Yellow Springs. The village is like a musical rainforest that breeds its own species of musicians, uniquely adapted to survive in its climate.
“There’s an openness here,” said upright bassist Jon Baumann. “It’s the type of town where you don’t have a lot of violence, no one is really afraid.”
“I think that really shapes you,” chimed Clonch. “Having the Glen [Helen], and so many unique people to grow up around. People really discover who they are here and it reflects in the music.”
Blue Moon Soup
½ cup unadulterated grain alcohol
2 cups Yellow Springs water
Generous helping of Jerry Garcia brand hippie-nouveaux blended stew
1 pinch of the freshest folk-rock revivalism
5 wild mushrooms (any variety)
1 bowl of herbs
4 Yellow Springs natives
Mix ingredients together then fry with mandolin until golden brown, chop with guitar until thoroughly whipped, then boil with bass until mix solidifies. Add fiddle to taste and garnish with lush vocal harmonies. Serves six.
“Actually our name came from a song by one of our friends,” said fiddler Robbie Marion. “Ortega Fuerte, one of the most brilliant musicians ever has a song called ‘Moon Soup.’ Somewhere along the way the word blue got thrown in there.”
Although they’ve only been together a year, the band has gained a devoted following, no doubt owing their loyalty to a feel-good down-home version of roots-folk that is slowly beginning to dominate the indie rock charts.
You know your band is on the up-and-up when police are busting teenagers in the woods with custom Blue Moon Soup mason jars filled with moonshine. That’s rock ‘n’ roll.
“We started out with a small fanbase here in Yellow Springs,” said Mandolinist Brendan Moore. “It’s been a great place for us to start out and branch out from.”
“After finding each other here and playing together,” said guitarist Clonch, “we just learn and mesh and mold and read each other’s minds now.”
“We don’t even write a set list anymore,” said fiddler Marion. “We’ll just go into songs in the same key. We’re focusing more on improvisation and harmonies now, and discovering new ways to link our songs together. We have structures, but we like to experiment on stage.”
All that creativity is paying off, as Blue Moon Soup made it to the Final Four of this year’s Dayton Band Playoffs at Canal Street Tavern and have been playing to new crowds around Ohio and throughout the Rust Belt, even venturing as far as Kentucky and West Virginia.
“You meet interesting people everywhere you go,” said Clonch. “After we played a show in Covington, Ky., we walked up to the middle of the bridge and played music all night until sunrise.”
“We serenaded the morning joggers,” said bassist Baumann. “This super old guy came up and told us about how he killed a man when he was 15 years old. We want to write a song about it.”
The band has been hard at work recording what will be their first album with renowned local producer Tim Berger.
“The next step for us is to record a bad-ass album,” said Clonch. “We hope to have at least an EP’s worth of material ready for our show at Canal Street on October 15.”
“Canal Street is sort of our home bar,” said Baumann. “There’s no TVs. It’s a listening room.”
“I like the wood,” said Marion. “It’s how a pub should be.”
Blue Moon Soup will bring their unique brand of trippy jam-grass to Canal Street Tavern, 308 E. First St. on Saturday, October 15. Taste the Soup. It’s delicious.
Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Dale at BenDale@DaytonCityPaper.com.