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PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato's Cosmic Country at The Stone Pony


By Chris Paul

originally published: 07/09/2024

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

Asbury Park, NJ held their fireworks display on July 3rd this year. Jokingly, I asked myself was this because moe. was back at the Summer Stage?! Clearly, it was because July 4th was a Thursday this year and it did not benefit completely as the introduction to the holiday weekend. Because of this the vibe in the air arriving in Asbury was different. More intimate, as if the people gathered knew this was the place to be if they were meant to be there. Within 10 minutes upon my arrival, I ran into 2 friends. Extended moe.ron family, one who was camped out for the show in a grass strip between streets outside of the venue.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, The Stone Pony’s gift to Asbury Park has always been music. This is especially true during the summer, when the amazing sound from the stage is accessible from the outside. From people tailgating at the parking meters, to rows of lawn and beach chairs on the boardwalk, if people are in the sonic vicinity of the Pony they are offered a great concert. I ran into my other friend heading into the venue. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it inside to enjoy Neighbor’s opening set, but their welcoming sound echoed the sentiment of the band’s name, and I boarded the magic trolley as navigating the neighborhood surrounding the show. The format for tonight’s experience would be different than a typical moe. show thanks to an extended summer tour with Neighbor and Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country. Each band played 1 set with moe. ending the nightly celebration. This show was special since it was the start of the Best.Summer.Ever run.

Once situated inside I was greeted by Donato’s Cosmic Country. I have never seen them before but have grown fondly familiar thanks to live show recording and web streaming. I was delighted that my expectations for their live show were met and then surpassed experiencing them live. Their sound was old country radio meets the cosmic slice and rifts of Donato’s guitar chops. It’s great to watch a band that has so much fun with their music (Donato’s ohh face says it all) and that is so in tune with every band member’s performance. Other members include Will “Mustang” McGee (bass), Nathan "Sugar Leg" Aronowitz (keys and guitar), Will “Bronco” Clark (drums).

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

It is easy to tell how much making this music together means to a band like Cosmic Country and I can completely see why and appreciate how this tour came together. Besides their original music, an early set highlight was a rippin’ cover of the Allman Brother’s “Jessica”. Cosmic Country was also joined by NJ native photographer and musician, Danny Clinch on harmonica for a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Good Old American Guest”. This band really got the crowd fired up and this 3-set format really is a perfect way to enjoy all the music and give each band time to showcase what they really can do while the crowd dances to a well-executed musical moment.

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

Next up was moe. I have been seeing moe. since 2001. The last time I saw moe. was in Philadelphia, PA for Halloween in 2021. This show happened to be the show before Chuck Garvey’s (guitar) stroke. This event would directly change the format of moe. I learned recently in an interview with moe. percussionist, Jim Loughlin resulting in the addition of Nate Wilson on keys. I was extremely excited to see Nate Wilson live now with moe. having listened to so many recent live recordings. Every song I hear notes that have always been there but are now heard for the 1st time. Moe. opened strong with 4th of July anti-hero, “Captain America” and my ears pricked up as Nate jumped right in from the start. It was also incredible to see/hear Chuck dive headfirst into his part. Right away I knew this band was here to play, this was a holiday blast, and we were getting our faces melted. My prediction came true immediately with the following “Recreational Chemistry”, complimented perfectly by Jim playing while smoking his pipe. Only in America, only on the 4th of July. It was also during Rec Chem I was introduced to the 7th member of moe., the wizard painted on Nate’s rig. Out of nowhere the jam went from Al Schnier (guitarist) and Vinnie Amico (drums) to include the wizard and Nate perfecting the effect of the song. I am equally impressed how quickly moe. shot out of the gate, like a rocket appropriately enough super ready to play their asses off to celebrate this moe.volution! Nate was such a forefront during the first 2 songs, he continued to shine singing his composition, “In Stride”. The spirit of this song perfectly captures the recent and overall history of the 3+ plus decades of moe. Through ups and downs, this band takes the moe.ments as they come in stride.



 
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Moe. doubled down on the celebration next with party favorite, “Happy Hour Hero”, that was then followed by a 3 song segway, “Big World>Ricky Martin>Puebla”. All 3 songs go back into the moe. cannon and it was great to hear these oldies, but goodies revitalized into their current renditions. Next came what is certainly becoming an instant classic for this Best.Summer.Ever, the appearance of Daniel Donato on stage with moe. for a rendition of the Allman Brother’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”. Watching Donato and Al exchange licks was epic, and this version was enhanced by Danny Clinch who also joined the fun with his harmonica. These collaborations are what this tour is all about and it was great to see the early foundation of this laid down with this jam. When I was photographing the show up front at its start, I realized I have something personally in common with some of the members of moe. Specifically, I too am a survivor of a life-threatening illness having recently completed Burkitt’s Lymphoma treatment successfully. Chuck has overcome his stroke and awhile back Rob Derhak (bass) also successfully completed cancer treatment. This realization was re-visited in the next song “Lazarus”, a brilliant piece about re-birth and redemption. Another friend of mine described the show as having all the feelings and this song culminated this sentiment for me. It was hard not to cry in pure joy celebrating this feeling. Celebrating this connection and what moe. has come to mean for me over all these years. Listening to recent live recordings, I have fallen in love with Nate Wilson’s contribution and the highlight of this for me is his part of the new introduction of moe. classic, “Buster”. Almost a gospel rendition, lifting spirits and the crowd up like our hero flying pig. I was rewarded with a live version of this coming out of “Lazarus”. As Nate tickled the ivory, I commented Sunday has come early and then gave praise for all I am grateful for. Hearing this song live was a gift and makes me believe in anything including that bacon can fly! Another highlight during “Buster”, was Jim who popped his percussions to sound distinctly like fireworks. Even though there were no official fireworks this night clearly fireworks had erupted from this stage and moe. delivered the Independence Day display everyone was hoping for. For encore, moe. first celebrated the birthday of Vinnie’s daughter asking the crowd to join them in singing her “Happy Birthday”, this was so moe. since family has always been a huge part of what they are about. After, we all celebrated America’s birthday, the birth of freedom thanks to a rocking rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “U.S. Blues”. 

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

PHOTOS from moe. and Daniel Donato

More information about Neighbor is available here-NEIGHBOR (neighbortunes.com)

Daniel Donato’s Cosmic County Setlist 7/4/24

“Ain’t Living Long Like This”, “Justice”, “Jessica (Allman Brothers Band)”, Good Old American Guest (Merle Haggard)” with guest harmonica, Danny Clinch, “Half Moon Night”, “Arkansas Traveler”, “Ten Feet of Rope”, Double Exposure”

More information about Cosmic County is available here- The Cosmic Country Club — Daniel Donato

moe. setlist 7/4/24

“Captain America”> “Recreational Chemistry”, “In Stride”, “Happy Hour Hero”, “Big World”> “Ricky Martin”> “Puebla”, “In Memory of Liz Reed (Allman Brothers Band)” with Daniel Donato (guitar) and Danny Clinch (harmonica), “Lazarus”> “Buster”



 
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Encore: “U.S. Blues (Grateful Dead)”

More information about moe. is available here-moe. 


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