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This must be the place

It’s the soundtrack of my life. Growing up in the Champlain Valley (Upstate New York/Vermont), the music of my native land echoed through the albums of moe. They are North Country boys, whose central blend of rock, jam, funk and jazz coagulated into a unique tone. It’s a seed planted in your head that grows and blossoms with you, becoming a beautiful vine of melodies wrapping around your flourishing soul.

All through my youth and young adulthood it was about listening to their music, and also being able to catch as much of it live as possible (especially live). The emotional and spiritual connection of seeing moe. perform live will always be the litmus test of who I am as a person — if I’m living my life to the honest aspirations I had when I finally held a driver’s license at 16 and the open road was my destination. 

It’s why we all keep coming back, why we keep showing up at age 20, 30, 40 and 50 to their shows. That chance for magic, for peace within their live presence, which will always be there, as long as we believe that purity in sound lies within the hearts of those onstage that wield their power with the utmost skill, grace and respect.

The Smoky Mountain News recently caught up with moe. drummer Vinnie Amico. He spoke of the band hitting their 25th year together in 2014, their aspirations for the future, and how their brand of music continues to survive and thrive in a modern industry where instant gratification can sometimes overshadow musicianship.

Smoky Mountain News: moe. can play almost any city in the country right now and folks will show up. But, how much bigger do you want it to get?

Vinnie Amico: It’s funny. We’ve been kind of floating in this area for a while. We haven’t had that many huge peaks and we haven’t had that many dipping valleys. We’ve stayed at this theatre level, and that’s a nice, comfortable career. The only way to reach that next level of success is to break into the mainstream. We’ve been doing this as long as we have, and we have that area of success we always have, but the mainstream has no idea. Personally, a little mainstream success would put an exclamation point on everything for me.

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SMN: The music industry, and specifically festivals, have changed a lot, where instant gratification can be sought after more than musicianship. What do you think about people being about gimmicks and shock and awe rather than watching pure talent onstage?

VA: The music as a whole has gone in that direction, kind of American life has gone in that direction — the Internet, free this, free that, streaming. People expect the music to be free, too. It’s about instant gratification. People buy a song, not an album. [The EDM scene (electronic dance music)], it’s more the kids. The older people don’t give a shit about that. We’re an older band, and our crowd has definitely gotten older. There are younger kids at our shows, but it’s mostly an older crowd. Fads come and go, and certain things stay. You look at the span of our career and how many things have gone, and how many things haven’t, how many bands in our scene are still here. Phish isn’t going anywhere, Widespread Panic isn’t, Gov’t Mule isn’t, and we aren’t. We’re rock bands and we are still here. We’re still writing and performing good music and I think people appreciate that.

SMN: What has a life playing music taught you about being a human being?

VA: Being in this business and being around musicians and seeing the egos and how people think they deserved to be treated, through all that, moe. is as much, if not more, a bunch of regular guys doing this because we love it. We have wives and kids, we coach softball and lacrosse teams. I know more people in my town from being my kid’s father than I am as some “rock star that plays in moe.”

SMN: 25 years. What does that number mean?

VA: It’s amazing to me that we’ve made a career out of music, being able to live your dream and do what you do, and have a career from it. I want to continue to do this, and sort of have to, because none of us know how to do anything else. [Laughs]. But then again, who wants to do anything else than what we’re doing right now?

Editor’s Note: moe. will be performing at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 11, at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain. Tickets are $20, with VIP passes available. or Their new album, “No Guts, No Glory!,” is currently on shelves now.


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1. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest will be July 10-12 at Harrah’s Cherokee.

2. The 11th annual Folk Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19 in Franklin.

3. Reggae group The Root of All will perform at 7 p.m. July 18 at BearWaters Brewing in Waynesville.

4. Funk/soul group Emporium will perform at Concerts on the Creek at 7:30 p.m. July 11 at Bridge Park in Sylva.

5. Afro-Caribbean band Sol Driven Train will perform at 8 p.m. July 11 at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City.

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