Last Friday night before the storm rolled into town, Rhode Island-based band, Moga, made sure to lay it down. While waves crashed and wind blew onshore at the Ocean Mist, the five-man band, fronted by bassist Ollie Williams, started off the night slowly stirring a southern style stew of down-home front porch blues and funk.
Williamsâ infectious groove had timid feet tip toeing toward stage. Mid-way through the bands second song the dance floor was hopping, as Ollie sang with his gritty soulful voice, âSince Iâve spent my last dime, all Iâve got for you is time, time, time, time, time.â Guitarist Greg Mallozzi followed up with a crunchy solo, before Moga fans helped ring in the final chorus.
The band blasted through a few catchy bluegrass numbers that had the crowd at near hoedown status. One song in particular was a mind blowing blend of Beatles blues backed up by a thick thumping tumble to the basement chorus which they repeated, paused, then made a smooth transition back to bluegrass with a clean finish.
âWe have a mammoth set list,â proclaimed Williams and it was easy to believe. The level of talent being displayed was intense, but subtle at the same time. There was showmanship, but no showboating. Solos were shared and played with precision during tunes like âNo Guaranteeâ and âPray for Rain.â Moga closed the first set with another open, spacey jam that had the audience swaying in the breeze of their sweet, warm sound.
The second set began with a loose reggae bass and guitar interlude. The rest of the band slowly joined in before coming together on Tom Pettyâs âBreakdownâ which set the crowd on their feet again. The band was technically sound through another peaceful, spacey jam that started with a big slow southern slang of piano and organ that ended in a fiery breakdown of crunchy guitar runs.
âGirl in the city, she makes it on her own,â Williams cried during âBoots,â a bluesy, Skynard style ballad. Ollieâs distinct voice was a raw and powerful with hints of Greg Allman and Paul McCartney.
Everybody was shakinâ it during tunes like âCaledonia,â a Muddy Waters cover, for which the band invited up a guest harmonica, and âEmmaline,â that highlighted the stylish keys of Alex Pendergrass, playing some slick draw bar organ into an Ophelia-like finish.
Moga paid tribute to The Band, adding a guest vocal for a three-part harmony that sounded organic, and pure as morning dew during a tasteful rendition of âThe Weight,â which sounded so sweet it was hard to believe that these guys didnât grow up down south.
Songs like âSugar Go Homeâ and âThe One That Got Awayâ kept the show swinging right along, blending vibrant verses with chunky choruses and watery descents, and impressive sound all around. The bands energetic style was balanced out by slower tunes like âNecklaceâ and âBilly Pen Blues.â
I heard a number of different influences making their way through Mogaâs sound. It was like Bluegrass blended with The Beatles and The Band. On stage they meticulously melded together fine musicianship with concise jams that stay relevant and end in time. These guys are worth checking out next time they come around.
If you go
Moga will be performig at AS220 at 115 Empire Street in Provicence Friday, June 15.