Moonshine Rhythm Club brings old-school swing and jazz to life with joyful arrangements and energetic playing that makes this vintage music sound like it was written this morning. The boys seek out deep cuts from the 30s and 40s, take their favorite parts from classic big band recordings, and distill them into their signature sound. That sound draws on the guitar-driven, acoustic fire of gypsy jazz, as well as the slow burn and laid-back groove of later artists like Count Basie and Nat “King” Cole. On top of this lays classy and hip vocals with a lighthearted humor.
Most of the band members grew up in the modern jazz scene. They loved the playful energy and improvisation of the music, but eventually found it lacking in audience accessibility. They discovered a broad appeal in the trad jazz revival of New York, New Orleans and elsewhere, music filled with catchy melodies and a danceable, swinging groove.
Rhythm guitarist Eddie Rutland, in the meantime, was immersed in the Lindy Hop dance scene, honing his rhythmic skills as an award-winning swing dancer and instructor. When he and lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan Leet decided to start a gypsy jazz band, they pulled in veteran bass and tuba player Eric Heveron-Smith, who has appeared with many of the notable bandleaders of the vintage swing renaissance, including Bria Skonberg, Michael Gamble, Jonathan Stout and Solomon Douglas. Heveron-Smith’s mellow vocals provide a perfect complement to the effortless cool of Leet’s voice. The addition of Charles Kay on sax and clarinet and Josh Irwin on electric archtop guitar solidified their American swing roots.
Moonshine Rhythm Club has brought its energetic acoustic presence from its hometown scene of Nashville to festivals and dances around the country. They tour heavily, trying to bring vintage music to audiences both initiated and unfamiliar with jazz. Their regular street performances turn the heads and grab the hearts of passers-by. They have also done performances and educational workshops for kids, including a Christmas collaboration with the world-renowned puppeteers at the Nashville Library. Currently, the band is working on a series of EPs paying homage to bandleaders that have inspired them, beginning with Artie Shaw, Django Reinhardt and Count Basie.