The Grateful Dead created the template. If the Dead were only remembered for their pop hits, "Truckin'," "Casey Jones" and "Touch Of Grey" (which came much later), they would have left a minor legacy warranting little more than a footnote in the whole late-60s San Francisco scene. But the Dead earned their cosmic reputation as a live band, playing countless free concerts, where they embarked on extensive, often drug fueled, jams. By not discouraging their audience from recording those concerts (a unique move) or trading the bootleg versions, the Dead became a "fan's band." Deadheads followed the group from show to show and spent hours (if not days, months or lives) debating whether the Dead's performance of "Uncle John's Band" at the Fillmore, Cow Palace or from an obscure festival in Colorado was the best. Bands would kill for that level of commitment but for the Dead, and later Phish, it just happened. No master plan, no nothing.
From Utica, NY, by way of the University of Buffalo, Five Guys Named Moe, founded by bassist/vocalist Rob Derhak and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Garvey, distilled their name down to Moe in the early '90s. With the addition of another guitarist, Al Schnier, the group issued "Fatboy" in '92. It was about this time that Schnier's psychedelic flavored improvisation took hold. While not as heady as the Dead, Moe was certainly plotting a similar course. '95 saw the group undertake a national tour.
As this was going on, Moe's original drummer Ray Schwartz left and was replaced by Jim Loughlin, who parted with the group in '95. Mike Strazza came and went before the year's end. Then Chris Mazur stepped in.
Signed by Sony/550 Music, Moe issued "No Doy" in '06. The extended (and therefore not radio friendly) "Meat" was issued as the first single. Needless to say, it garnered little attention. Mazur was fired with Vinnie Amico taking over. Finally, they had a drummer who'd stay awhile.
"Tin Cans And Car Tires" and Headseed" arrived in '97 and '98, respectively. A full tour schedule brought the return of Loughlin, who added percussion. The group's jam band M.O. came to fruition as they gave a different reading to "Timmy Tucker," and other songs, each time they were played.
Even though Moe looked poised for a breakthrough, Sony dropped them. The setback was turned into an opportunity as they formed their Fatboy label to release the live "L." "Dither," a studio album dropped in '00 as did the first of the live "Warts And All" series. "Wormwood," a combination of live and studio material, landed in '02. Additional live efforts (see above) were issued with the group finally returning to the studio to record their early '07 release, "The Conch."
1992: Fatboy (an indie release)
1996: No Doy
1998: Tin Cans And Car Tires
2002: Season's Greetings From Moe.
2007: The Conch
2008: Sticks And Stones
2012: What Happened To The La Las
2014: No Guts, No Glory
On "The Conch," Moe display a loose, Jazz-influenced style reminiscent of a cross between Steely Dan and the Dave Matthews Band ("Blue Jeans Pizza," "Tubing The River Styx" and "Down Boy"). When not down that road, they alternate between '70s guitar Rock ("The Pit," "The Road" and "Wind It Up") and Folk Rock ("Lost Along The Way" and "Where Does The Time Go"). The songs serve as a good springboard for the group's virtuosity.
"Wormwood" features the guitar driven "Not Coming Down and "Shoot First," which sounds like it was recorded with half the Eagles. "Headseed" has the original version of "Timmy Tucker," which is a good tune, and the Reggae "Threw It All Away."
With a band like Moe, the studio material has to give ground to the live recordings. "L," the early editions of the "Warts And All" series and "Live At The Fillmore" are the best bets. The first "Warts And All" disc has a spirited rendition of the Ramones "I Want To Be Sedated." How deep to go into the live material depends on how many versions of "Timmy Tucker" are of interest.