Music » Livewire


Wednesday, February 16, at the House of Blues.


Restraint seems an odd proposition for any group painted into the jam-band corner. It is, after all, a genre in which a road-weary hash of musical excess and instrumental prowess lures the nomadic, barefoot masses like so many tie-dyed moths to the flame.

Yet Moe's style has become more contained, even as the group has redefined the boundaries of improv rock. It could be that the pendulum is merely swinging back -- the band, founded by bassist Rob Derhak and guitarist-vocalist Chuck Garvey at the University of Buffalo in 1991, adopted the jam-band model in the first place because it didn't have enough original songs to play live.

"For the first couple of years, it wasn't as evident," Garvey says with a laugh. But jamming "was important for our own sanity," he adds. "Playing 250 days a year, you have to keep your interest level up."

Jamming still figures prominently in Moe's stage show, but the band members have become adept at keeping their explorations in bounds to prevent the overall flow from capsizing. The band's last two albums, Dither (2001) and Wormwood (2002), exemplify the economy that seems to be drawing Moe closer to the center -- closer to being a straight-up rock band.

"We get together for these two-, three-day bursts," Garvey says of the band's songwriting process. "We work really hard during that little pocket of time, rather than setting aside a month to write a bunch of songs. It's cool to do it that way, because you concentrate on one thing at a time. [Otherwise] everything starts to sound the same."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.