Music News & Reviews

Moreland & Arbuckle clicked over roots music

It was like a hometown show when Moreland & Arbuckle played the World Cafe Live. The roots-rock duo from Wichita delivered an incendiary set for an enthusiastic crowd that opted not to eat a sandwich during their lunch break but to listen to an emerging band.

The audience arrived thanks to the airplay Moreland & Arbuckle receive courtesy of Philadelphia’s WXPN-FM, which is one of the most influential stations in the country.

“They’re really good people there,” vocalist-harp player Dustin Arbuckle said. “We get as much support from WXPN as any station in the country. It’s syndicated, and it helps get the word out. Thankfully, their taste is broad, because you just don’t hear (acts) like us on the radio anymore.”

Any band that combines blues, country and soul isn’t exactly a constant on the Billboard charts. That’s the story for Moreland & Arbuckle, which is about making uncompromising roots rock.

“We like to do things our way,” Arbuckle said. “That’s the way it was since we met.”

Arbuckle connected with guitarist Aaron Moreland a dozen years ago at Roadhouse Blues.

“It was on a Monday night for open mike, and we just clicked,” Arbuckle recalled. “Aaron was doing some Mississippi blues stuff, and I was really interested in that. We got to talking, and one thing led to another.”

Shortly thereafter, Moreland & Arbuckle was born. The duo released its 2007 debut disc, “Carney Valley Blues.” Arbuckle, who lives in downtown Wichita, and Moreland, who lives in Winfield, honed their skills early on in Wichita. Moreland & Arbuckle made three more albums it produced in Wichita. But it decided to go outside the area when it came to crafting “7 Cities,” which dropped last month.

The pair ventured to Seattle to work with producer Matt Bayles (Mastondon, Cursive). “It was an interesting concept going to Matt since he is known for working on metal and electronic,” Arbuckle said. “He never worked with a rootsy band before.”

But the partnership was fruitful. “7 Cities” is the act’s biggest-sounding album. The slide guitar attack and the drums sound massive at times. Part of that has to do with new percussionist Kendall Newby, who hits hard and helps lay down sizable grooves. There is a certain swagger the band possesses now that was simply not present in the past.

“I think we have that raw sound on this album that we do when we play live,” Arbuckle said. “We’re happy with the raucous feel we have with this album.”

Moreland & Arbuckle will showcase the fresh material Friday at the Orpheum Theatre. “It’s always a blast to play a hometown show,” Arbuckle said. “We love playing at home in Wichita. The crowds are always great, and now we have this new album to play.”

If the album takes off, don’t expect Moreland & Arbuckle to move away.

“We love being Kansas boys,” Arbuckle said. “We’re born and bred Kansas. We’re not going anywhere except when we play on the road. I love it in Wichita. I don’t go out much when I’m back in Wichita. Neither does Aaron. We’re both homebodies. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we’re out so much when we tour. We’re in Europe a lot, and with this last album, we were in Seattle. We get to see enough of the world. When we’re not out there, we’re really comfortable in Kansas.”