[listen] Moreland & Arbuckle
The blues takes me back to my childhood – my dad playing guitar with his friends on Saturday afternoons, the air filled with laughter, amps and classic blues lyrics. I was there in the middle of it all, blowing out my young eardrums, loving every minute of it.
The blues is roots music. As with finding the roots of a plant, you have to dig beneath the surface to find roots music in Wichita. Once you do a bit of digging, one band you will discover is Moreland & Arbuckle. The band is Aaron Moreland (guitar), Dustin Arbuckle (harmonica/vocals) and Brad Horner (drums).
Aaron and Dustin began playing together over seven years ago, with Brad joining the band later. Moreland & Arbuckle play electric with Brad Horner and acoustic as a duo. I had the opportunity to talk with Dustin before he and the band headed out to play some gigs on the East Coast.
What do you enjoy most about playing electric and acoustic?
Acoustic music is more subtle. You know with acoustic music, I can actually use a lot of the subtleties of my voice. I can do different things on harmonica. I can use my hands, shape my sound more when I play. With Aaron, playing an acoustic guitar just feels different. You just derive different sorts of pleasure from it. On the opposite end, playing electric, having Brad there to pound out, bring power with the drums. It’s awesome. A lot of different tonal possibilities and creative possibilities come from amplification. There’s things we can do electric that we can’t do acoustic and vice versa.
You have played across the U.S. and Canada, even the across the globe with stops in Italy and Kuwait. What are some of your favorite venues in Kansas?
We used to love playing Barleycorn’s. Barleycorn’s was a great venue for us. Kirby’s is always a blast! We haven’t played there a ton over the years but we always have a great time when we do. We had a phenomenal show with Split Lip Rayfield at the Bottleneck (in Lawrence) about a year ago. My favorite venue in the world is a place called BB’s Lawnside BBQ in Kansas City, just over the Kansas line. I’ve been going up there since I was 19 to hear my friend Lee McBee play.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
There’s so much wonderful music out there. All three of us have lots of music that we love. I know Aaron’s all time favorite band is Led Zeppelin. My favorite artist of all time is Muddy Waters. I think Brad would probably say Led Zeppelin too, but I’m not totally sure. What drummer doesn’t love John Bonham, though? They’re into a lot of hard rock stuff and I love traditional country, old soul music. The stuff that really first got me into blues was Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. My all time favorite harmonica player is Little Walter. Little Walter was such a genius, a visionary.
How did you come to choose harmonica as your instrument?
When I was 15 or 16 I started thinking I might want to have a band. I’d always sang. My old man was like “Well you gotta play something.” So, well, I’ll try harmonica. Harp just worked out. I had a weird feel for it. When people learn to play harmonica and they ask me who to listen to, I say Howlin’ Wolf. Because you can learn a lot of good foundation. My friend Lee McBee is my favorite living harmonica player. I’m lucky that my hero on the instrument is a good friend.
What should Wichita know about Moreland & Arbuckle?
Wichita should know that we’re proud to be Kansans. We love and appreciate the people and support. There’s a kinship with the audience when you play at home. You look around into the crowd and see friends.
Moreland & Arbuckle are currently touring the U.S. and Canada as well as working on a followup to current release “1861.” They plan on releasing a new album in February 2010. Visit them online here and here, or follow them on Twitter.
Photo courtesy of the author