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Deadheads Redux

moe. picks up where Garcia and Co. left off

moe. was released from Sony 550 this past April, according to Schnier. The band had fulfilled the first portion of the contract and was left to decide whether or not to fulfill the second.

A new record is expected to be released this spring or summer, and will include input from newcomer Loughlin, whose main instrument live is the bongos. "When you have a jam band, you have the same four guys soloing over and over again," says Schnier. "It's always tricky not to become too self-indulgent or wanky. So part of the reason we added [Loughlin] was to diversify the sound. Take some of that focus off the four main instruments and add more sound."

And while major-label interest for a new moe. studio record is there, according to Schnier, the band prefers the independent lifestyle. Unlike under Sony 550, moe. now owns every note it plays. Well, almost every note.

moe. is still toeing the traditional rock line.
John Halpern
moe. is still toeing the traditional rock line.

Like other jam bands today and the Dead before them, moe. lets, even encourages, concertgoers to bring recording devices along to tape shows. Unless the band is recording for a possible live CD (at which point it posts a message on its Web site, www.moe.org, prohibiting recording devices), everything -- from Derhak's usually slap-happy bass solos to those missed cues to those never-ending solos -- is up for the dubbing.

Which is how Fatboy got so popular: dubbed copies. moe., which now distributes a 20,000-wide-circulation newsletter and is the object of nearly a dozen Web sites, has polished its nonmainstream appeal to a fine sheen. Aside from opening up its live performances to tapers, moe. has gotten in good with its fans ("moe.rons") by encouraging communication and a sense of community among them.

Like Deadheads of yesteryear, moe.rons (some of whom are actually ex-Grateful Dead fans) think moe. the band belongs to them. Not to Tower Records shoppers. Not to MTV-watchers. And certainly not to commercial radio listeners. moe.rons want their band to stay away from commercialization and commodification and all those evils of capitalism, though the band and others like it make lots of money selling merchandise. And who buys all those band-related clothes and baseball caps and baby bibs? The fans who say their jam band is so above selling its soul to make a buck.

Some moe.rons, after selling the shirts off their backs for a bootleg, will be sad to hear Fatboy is now available for the cost of a Backstreet Boys CD. Good thing it's all in the name of extended exposure.

moe. performs an all-ages show Thursday, November 4, at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak. Call (713)862-7625.

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