Aura Music & Arts Fest Interview with Chuck Garvey, the guitarist of Moe.

Moe. will be performing two sets at the 6th annual Aura Music and Arts Festival in Live Oak at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park March 6-8th.

Moe. recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, no small feat for a musical group. Moe formed in the early 1990s, and then in 1999 percussionist Jim Loughlin join the group. They’ve been together ever since. What is the secret to keep a band together so long? Guitarist Chuck Garvey elaborates on this and other elements of crafting a successful band and life.

“The whole thing started with a core group of people from SUNY Buffalo. We have known each other for years, and that friendship has been a lasting influence on every aspect of the band and our organization. In addition to the band, there’s Jon Topper (Manager), Jess Topper (Jon’s wife who also has run the management office and many aspects of the organization for years), Becca Derhak (Rob’s wife who has been our art director and running the whole merchandise aspect of our business), Steve Young (Front of House Audio Engineer, all-around make it work guy) and Skip Richman (Tour Manager 1997 – 2014). They all lived in Buffalo at the beginning time period of the band, and have been with us ever since. There is a strong family atmosphere that is very important to our identity and how we try to cultivate our relationship with fans.”

“We had a couple bands that were friends of ours in Buffalo that showed us that we could book shows and make something happen just by flyering and getting the word out. As we grew and started touring regionally, there were bands like Moon Boot Lover (Peter Prince), The Ominous Seapods (Albany, NY), and later other bands would trade gigs with us. We would all benefit from each other’s’ strong fanbases. To a large extent, we made just about every mistake you could, but we slowly found the path that would end up working for us.”

“One of the biggest nuggets of advice that is as true now as it was then: Play lots of shows, book your own shows if you don’t have a manager or agent, pay your dues and learn to play together live as a band, as well as with other musicians in other bands. Nothing goes as far as true experience in front of a crowd and learning from other musicians who have been there already.”

Moe., veterans of the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, thrilled the crowd at Wanee Fest last year. “We love playing at the park because it is such a beautiful spot, and it seems like no matter what the lineup of bands might be, everyone rises to the occasion, whether it be fest goers or musicians. Last time we were there was with bands such as Dumstaphunk and the Allman Brothers. Our setlist or playing may have reflected the tone of the festival, while the upcoming Aura Festival has a different lineup and feel to it. Set lists are generally written the day of the sets to be played, with sit ins, covers and other special tidbits included to suit the taste of the day!“

“We are fortunate to be able to see a lot of music – especially during festival season. I don’t think I could put all my eggs in one band’s basket, so to speak, as I get enough out of one or two nights, then onto something new….”

“Traveling is the best exploration I know, so making that coincide with great music would be the ultimate for me. Rockies, West Coast, Europe, Japan, the tropics….. Maybe putting a trip together (with many stops to explore), then searching local music for awesomeness would be the way to go. A little bit of happy accidental music sounds like fun – band roulette!”

“The only thing (that is totally true) that I can tell you about 2015, is that we are going to go out and play our fool asses off every single show.”

Moe. will be joined by at least 30 other bands like The Disco Biscuits, Papadosio, The Fritz, The Motet, Dopapod, The Mantras, Kung Fu and Tauk. A local band from Jacksonville Beach, Lucky Costello, will be making their second appearance. You can find out more about the 6th annual Aura Music and Arts Festival by going to

About Steve Prendergast