While playing funk-rock saxophone in all of the "Pay-to-Play", "High Profile" venues of L.A.'s intense music scene, Chris and Chris decided to slow down, pick up a couple of acoustic guitars, and play some Cash, Willie, and Hank. This was soon after discovering they were both pretty much raised on the stuff, being born in Texas and Ohio. They figured if they were lucky they could hit up a corner bar for a few free beers and maybe pick up on some ladies by offering up a few of these childhood favorites.
Dissatisfied with the country music scene in L.A., they invited some friends to join in, took the name Merchants of Moonshine, and took aim! The first gig was a true hole-in-the-wall, playing for about 20 friends. Six years, and approximately 600 gigs, later they have become southern California's premiere local country band and now split time between L.A. and Nashville. They have shared the stage with Rodney Crowell, Zac Brown Band, David Allan Coe, Billy Bob Thornton & the Boxmasters, Wade Hayes, The Blasters, Trisha Yearwood, Hal Ketchum, Little Texas, Asleep at the Wheel, Clint Black, Junior Brown, Will Kimbrough, Bo Bice, Neal McCoy, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and Phil Vasser.
They have performed at several large fairs and rodeos, four of the largest being National Finals Rodeo (Vegas), the L.A. County Fair, the Honda Center, and Angels Stadium. They have played at many of those same "High Profile" Los Angeles venues including Viper Room, The Mint, and Key Club. Awards include South Bay Music Award's 2007 "Country Artist of the Year", Colgate Country Showdown's 2006 "California State Finalist", and they consistently break attendance records at most of the bars/clubs they frequent. They have been featured (interviewed and played) on Shawn Parr's "local spotlight" on KKGO 105.1 GoCountry. "Country Love" written by M.o.M. was used in a feature film entitled "Cut Off" starring Faye Dunaway, Malcolm McDowell, and Kurupt.
With homes in two cities (Nashville/Los Angeles), they have recently taken their show on the road with a series of mini-tours encompassing the states of Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. On these trips they have played staple venues such as Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" (Minneapolis/Detroit), Gilley's (Vegas), Museum Club (Flagstaff), Stubb's (Austin), Billy Bob's Texas (Ft. Worth), Adair's Saloon (Dallas) and a Blue Angels air show (Bossier City).
To what to attribute Merchants of Moonshine's quick success depends on who you ask. The fans (a.k.a. Moonshiners) will tell you it is the energetic live show and original songwriting. The band will tell you that it's probably because they are a group of younger musicians exploring and revitalizing an older style of country. Thus, the music appeals to all ages. The younger crowd is relishing it for the first time as "Nashville", via pop country radio, has been backing artists that sound more on the rock-n-roll side of country for the past 20 years. The older crowd is embracing M.o.M.'s modern translation of the country they grew up with. Or maybe it's best described in the two most recurring compliments the band receives:
"I ended up here tonight because of___________ (fill in the blank). Country music isn't my thing, but I love this band!"
"I enjoy watching your band because y'all truly enjoy playing music together. We can see it and feel it. Your energy pulls everyone in!"