Music News & Reviews

Opening the 'Flood' gates

The sounds of rock and blues will fill the swanky space at Abode Home this weekend as the band Moreland and Arbuckle celebrates the release of its new CD "Flood."

A 13-track blend of acoustic and electric songs, the album title is appropriate for the Wichita band whose unique musical approach has left it awash with national success. Claiming blues as their foundation, with strong early Mississippi and Chicago influences, Moreland and Arbuckle go beyond genre stereotypes to incorporate shades of roots, rock and country.

Composed of Aaron Moreland on guitar, Dustin Arbuckle on vocals and harmonica, and Brad Horner on drums, the trio has come a long way since its formation.

"Being out on the road has really opened us up as musicians," Arbuckle said. "Personal experiences impact how you make music. When you're touring you meet more people, see more places, and have more things happen to you. All of that enriches the quality of your work."

In addition to cross-genre elements, the band's distinctive sound comes partly from Moreland playing a cigar-box guitar that uses one bass and three guitar strings.

They started out playing the local circuit several years ago at places like Barleycorn's, the Anchor and Mort's, but soon found themselves opening for A-list acts. After signing with Monterey International Booking, they began a fast-paced touring schedule, playing with blues artists like Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Long and Robert Cray.

They've played music festivals in Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. In 2008, they also got to play to the troops in Iraq as part of the Bluzapalooza tour.

"If ever there was an instance when the healing power of music was on full display, it was during that trip," Arbuckle said. "It was an honor to be told by several troops that our music had helped take their minds off of the high-stress environment they were in, even if it was just for a couple of hours."

The band thinks its creative synergy has never been higher than with the release of its fourth album.

"We've spent a lot of time together touring, so our sound is very connected," Arbuckle said. "This album is very earthy and spooky. It's ripe for storytelling. There's always a groove element that is well represented that keeps the listener settled in and engaged."

The tracks are a mix of transformed classics as well as new material. The opening track features a harmonica-laced homage to Little Walter's "Hate to See You Go." A live version of the time-honored "Legend of John Henry" storms at the listener and showcases the power of Moreland's inimitable guitar.

The tune "18 Counties" tugs at the heartstrings, paying tribute to people, including Arbuckle's father, who lost their homes and more in a flood a couple of years ago. It is preceded by an instrumental melody, "Before the Flood."

"The lyrics we did for this album are truly some of our deepest work yet," Arbuckle said. "We try to unearth what's under the surface and make what's raw compelling."