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The Moetones escape pandemic blues with comeback show in Rico

The Moetones of Montezuma County celebrate their 13th year with a comeback concert at the Enterprise Bar and Grill in Rico on Aug. 27. (Courtesy photo)
Local favorite band gets back on stage with new songs, fresh energy

Local favorite The Moetones are emerging from the shadows of the pandemic to rekindle their musical mojo with a comeback show at the Enterprise Bar in Rico Aug. 27 at 2 p.m.

After an over two-year hiatus, the local rock-and-country group is amped up to reconnect with audiences, plus they have new material, said frontman Moe Cooley.

“We are getting back into the swing of things, it’s our first gig back into the real world,” he said. “We’re going to play our hearts out and test the waters with some new songs.”

Singer-songwriter Moe Cooley is the frontman for The Moetones. (Courtesy photo)

The band turned 13 years this year, and is made up of Cooley singing and on guitar, Tomoe Natori on bass, Dale X Allen on lead guitar, and Peter Ortego on drums.

Frequent special guests are guitarist and drummer Justin Richert, mandolin player Bobby Wintringham, and keyboardist Michael Bolotin.

The Moetones plays original tunes written by Cooley who is influenced by blues, rock, country and rockabilly.

“It’s hard to pin us down, we go from ballads to hard-driving Americana and punk,” he said.

The Rico show will be two hours of The Moetones then an acoustic set by Cooley.

The band’s return is attuned to “the monsoons scrubbing off the dust of the megadrought,” Natori says.

The group has three albums out now, and are working on a fourth. “Lowbrow” was released in 2011, then came “Heartbreaker Ball” in 2015 and “Beautiful Day” in 2018.

The band’s diverse sound and high energy is a reflection of its members, with Cooley and Allen from Austin, Ortego from Louisiana, and Natori from Tokyo and New York City.

Cooley has five new songs ready to record, halfway to a new album. They have a bluesy edge, he said, and explore the metaphors of life, power of love, and the recent marijuana craze.

Cooley moved to Cortez in 2009, a refugee of Austin, where he performed for 30 years then watched as it slowly transformed from a tight-knit community of innovative musicians, to a mega city discovered by the masses.

“It became overrun,” he said.

A fresh start in the Four Corners was an inspiration with room to breathe and the fortune to connect with local musicians for a new band.

“We’re putting our irons back in the fire, there are lot of good bands in this area right now,” Cooley said.

The Moetone shows have an edgy, high-energy vibe that buzzes through the audience. Between originals, the band busts out its favorite covers by Hank Williams, Tom Petty and The Ramones.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, we’re bringing our A game,” Cooley said. “We’ll get the nerves, I’m sure, because we haven’t played live for more than two years, but that adrenaline brings out the energy and improv that bands love.”