By: Kaitlin Davis
Go to Schmitt’s Saloon here in Morgantown and you may get the opportunity to hear the country music stylings of MoonlightDrive, an up and coming country band out of Morgantown.
While they may have a country sound, MoonlightDrive writes songs about love, heartbreak, fun times and various other aspects of our everyday lives. MoonlightDrive “strives to create a sound that covers all of the bases,” according to their Facebook page. Band members include lead vocalist/guitarist Clint Bowman, lead guitarist/backup vocalist Matthew Mann, drummer Zane Cress and bass guitarist Thomas Reckart.
Their music is more of an upbeat, make you want to dance kind of country music, according to Cress. However, they started from rock roots. Cress and Mann have actually been playing music and jamming out together since the 6th grade. However, both Cress and Mann learned to play rock music first.
As they went through middle school and high school, Cress and Mann continued to jam out together and just have a good time. Reckart, who went to high school with the two boys, would join them occasionally in their jam sessions. The boys eventually got to the point where they began looking for a lead singer and that’s when Bowman came into the picture. All four boys went to high school together, but music brought them together.
The four boys officially started MoonlightDrive in December of 2013, according to Cress and have been producing and performing music ever since.
When talking to Cress, I wanted to know why Morgantown and what makes the Morgantown music scene so unique? Aside from the various venues that Morgantown has available, Cress emphasized the crowd and the crowds reaction to the music. “Morgantown has a great crowd turnout and crowd reaction,” said Cress.
Cress also noted that MoonlightDrive started here in Morgantown because of the demographic they are trying to reach. Morgantown is home to a big university with 30,ooo students who are into various forms of music. MoonlightDrive aims to reach the college-aged students and those individuals who are 18 to 26.
Though MoonlightDrive frequents Schmitt’s Saloon, they also play at various other spots around the Morgantown area, such as Shorthorn Saloon, the Angry Beaver and Longneck Saloon.
Schmitt’s Saloon will always feel like home to MoonlightDrive since Schmitt’s was the first place they performed at as a band and was the first bar to offer them weekly playing time.
They appeared first on the Schmitt’s Saloon stage at the Songwriter Showcase back in 2013 where they performed three original songs and three covers. “We play covers of songs but we put our own vibe and twist on them,” said Cress. “My favorite venue is Schmitt’s Saloon because of their lighting, stage, their top of the notch sound system and the great people and staff who are there.”
MoonlightDrive has had the opportunity for many different artists, such as Chase Bryant, Uncle Kracker, Granger Smith and more! They actually released their own EP titled MoonlightDrive that you can check out.
“[Performing] It’s just so rewarding,” said Cress. “We all jam and have a good time. The reaction from the crowd makes all the practicing rewarding. It makes it the best.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to see them live at Schmitt’s Saloon on Friday, January 16, and I fell in love with their music. They got the crowd pumped and had everyone in the crowd dancing!