The Handmades’ Tale

H andmade Moments, the folk-jazz duo originally from Arkansas, are excited to be playing in Dayton for a number of reasons. “There’s this amazing Randy Newman song called ‘Dayton, Ohio’” cheers Anna Moss, then sings “A real nice way to spend the day in Dayton, Ohio… I love that song so much.” Turns out she […]

Handmade Moments’ folk roadshow at Hannah’s 

By Gary McBride

Handmade Moments, the folk-jazz duo originally from Arkansas, are excited to be playing in Dayton for a number of reasons. “There’s this amazing Randy Newman song called ‘Dayton, Ohio’” cheers Anna Moss, then sings “A real nice way to spend the day in Dayton, Ohio… I love that song so much.” Turns out she even has posted a video on the band’s Instagram of herself playing and singing the song, among the dozens of videos and hundreds of photos from their travels around the world.

Moss and her partner Joel Ludford both sing and play a variety of instruments, from guitar, mandolin and upright bass, to the more esoteric. “We didn’t start out that way, but it kind of happened,” notes Anna. “Instruments are sometimes given to us, like I received a bass clarinet, Joel was gifted a tuba. That was his first instrument, which is why someone gave it to him. Yeah, he was the 12-year-old chubby kid who played tuba in the marching band.”

They met at a party about 9 years ago with some musician friends. Joel was strumming a guitar, and Anna started jazz scatting along, something clicked, and Anna soon joined Joel’s band. About 5 years ago, they both wanted to take the show on the road, but the other band members didn’t, so Anna and Joel struck out on their own with their side project, Handmade Moments. Somewhere along the way, they fell in love. “She’s the lucky one,” jokes Joel.

When close to home, they often play shows with additional musicians to fill out their sound, but the couple has been touring as a duo pretty much non-stop.

Well, one stop. A big, bad stop. 

They had outfitted a school bus to run on biodiesel, with solar panels and a stage on the roof, sound system, and living quarters—a self-contained touring sustainability machine. They could stop just about anywhere and in a few minutes, put on an impromptu show, camp for the night, then keep rolling down the road. Joel says “the whole theme behind that tour was to run [the bus] off veggie oil and play shows amplified by solar power, and that way we could bring the music to the people for free. That was a really fun project, we did that for about 9 months.”

But in spring of 2016, the road had different plans for them. “We got in a near-death accident,” recalls Joel, and dryly adds, “That was another really cool project we did.” Joel goes on to describe the accident. “Some road-rage drivers got in a wreck with each other and then they hit Anna head-on on Highway 49.” Anna suffered a concussion, but Joel received the worst of it, severely injured from the waist down. He spent a month in the hospital, then two more in a wheelchair.

Ironically, the accident ended up being the start of their latest cool project after all. As they recovered, they began writing songs with a new perspective and renewed energy, then recording what would become their third album, Paw Paw Tree, released two years to the day after the accident, May 21 of this year. They picked up where they left off, outfitted another bus, and hit the road again, and after their current run of U.S. shows will be going international.

“We’ll be in Europe for about 3 months, then take a boat to Egypt,” Anna says. “We were in Argentina for 3 months, and that was amazing, Colombia for a month. It seems people love music more outside of the United States. There’s so much of it here, and I think people take it for granted. When we were in Argentina, every show was packed. If there’s a show, people are not going to miss it. And I’ve heard the same thing about Europe.”

“It’s a whole different world, I’m excited,” Anna continues. “I love playing music in different places, experiencing different cultures.” But in Europe, they’ll take a break from driving. “We’re going to get a train pass, I’m really looking forward to not driving for a while. I’d rather take the train, look around at the scenery, see where I am.”

One scenic spot they visited recently was an airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert to make a formal music video for their song “This is Your Captain Speaking.”

“It’s a very harsh environment, but planes survive great there because they don’t rust.” It took some convincing and finagling, but they managed to get access for a half-hour to shoot the video. They made the most of their time, and finished up the rest of the video in the surrounding desert.

“We post a lot of videos from the road on Instagram, and that’s how a lot of people follow us,” adds Joel.

But this Saturday, don’t miss them in person at Hannah’s. It’s a real nice way to spend the day.

An Evening with Handmade Moments starts at 8:00, Saturday, August 11 at Hannah’s, 121 N. Ludlow St., Dayton. Call 937.640.1335 or visit facebook.com/hannahsonludlow/ for information. For music, videos, and more, stop by instagram.com/handmademomentsmusic or visit handmademomentsmusic.net.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Gary McBride at GaryMcBride@DaytonCityPaper.com

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