Hailing from Kansas, Moreland & Arbuckle have seen more success in the past two years than most musicians dream about. Since being a Finalist at the 2005 International Blues Competition (IBC), they have seen their fan base grow exponentially. During the past two years they have performed at several major blues festivals and the band has performed over 700 gigs in the past five years.
Moreland & Arbuckle’s blistering live shows have become nothing short of legendary. Moreland & Arbuckle are clearly a must see for any music enthusiast. Not only are they keeping a strong blues tradition alive, but they are pushing it into new boundaries for generations to come.
Reviews & Press
"It's hard to believe, but the best merger of Mississippi Hill Country blues, Delta blues, and rural blues in years may come from a duo from Kansas. 1861 is an electrifying set that will earn a spot on your stereo's regular rotation for a long time with their fresh interpretation of old classics and new songs that fit seamlessly with the old. These guys mean business!" Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes (Feb 22, 2008)
Back to the river
Moreland and Arbuckle love Mississippi blues -- roots blues.
The origins of the sound may be hundreds of miles and several generations away, but the Wichita band Moreland and Arbuckle has made the roots blues of the Mississippi Delta feel right at home on the plains of Kansas.
Just don't ask them why they chose this small niche of the genre over today's more popular guitar-slinger blues.
"I don't even know how much of a choice it was, really," says the deep-voiced Dustin Arbuckle.
"When Aaron (Moreland) and I first started playing together about six years ago, we were both looking for other people who had an interest in roots blues -- Mississippi blues -- not the fairly generic blues rock that you seem to hear so often."
Both men, he says, were into the music of Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Blind Willie Johnson. They also had an interest in urban electric blues such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter, early Chicago sounds that still had a strong tie to Mississippi.
"It wasn't a choice of which vein of the blues to go into, it was just the stuff that we loved," Arbuckle says.
The fruits of that love will be on display when guitarist Moreland and vocalist-harmonica player Arbuckle -- with drummer Brad Horner -- perform at a CD release party Saturday night at Barleycorn's, 579 W. Douglas. The CD "1861" is the band's inaugural release on the Northernblues label, following three independent releases, including one under the band name King Snakes.
The CD includes covers of works by Hound Dog Taylor and R.L. Burnside, but is notable for its nine songs written by Moreland and Arbuckle.
It's that ability to write original material in the spirit of the Mississippi blues that helps elevate the work by Moreland and Arbuckle. It's one thing to create the sound, it's another to capture the spirit.
"Obviously, you're dealing with a genre that's a hundred years old and there's been a lot already done," Arbuckle says. "It is important that you understand the roots of the music that you're playing so that you can tastefully do your own thing within it."
The songwriting duo put a distinctly Kansas stamp on the CD, with tales revolving around the Chautauqua Hills, grandma's cookin' and the travails of a relative. Then there's the name of the album, which is the year Kansas became a state.
Moreland and Arbuckle are getting notice far from Kansas, reaching the finals of the International Blues Competition in Memphis in 2005, and touring in Italy and on the West Coast.
Arbuckle says the band, which also plays as an acoustic duo, has a degree of diversity that helps keep the members fresh and enables the group to appeal to a wider range of
"One of the biggest things we have going for us is that we have enough of the traditional electric blues sound that we can appeal to your traditional blues audience. But at the same time we have enough of that hard-driving, stripped-down sound that a lot of the rock crowd is into these days."
KEVIN SHEEDY - The Wichita Eagle (Feb 15, 2008)
When you put this Moreland and Arbuckle CD on, get ready to have the world stop to ask, “who’s that?” In a world of musical perfection, Moreland and Arbuckle’s raw distorted tones are more than refreshing. Unshaven and at times coarse, Aaron Moreland’s dense and primitive guitar grooves combined with Dustin Arbuckle’s raspy vocals and edgy harmonica fire up their earthy, rural blues.
Art Tipaldi -- Contributing Editor, Blues Revue and Blues Wax (Jan 13, 2008)
MORELAND AND ARBUCKLE 1861
"From the heartland of America, these young men bring to the table a powerful devil's potion of Delta, hill-country, and postwar electrified blues, all rolled into one... With "1861," Moreland and Arbuckle come across as a brilliant, youthful duo with a deep understanding of the paths traveled by the masters from whom they have very ably adapted their contemporary sound." See entire article by clicking on the link below. Don Crow - Music City Blues (Jan 11, 2008)
According to the liner notes on their Northern Blues release, "1861" , Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle have lived most of their lives in Kansas. That certainly is fitting since the music on "1861" roars out at you like a tornado cutting a path through the great plains. From the opening notes of "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia" this music grabs you and refuses to let go, pulling you along on a joyous roots ride. With Brad Horner joining the duo on drums, they create a huge sound worthy of a much larger band. Their own songs really ring true to the blues, and the carefully chosen covers, such as "See My Jumper....." are done tastefully and with the raucous spirit of the originals. This sounds like a blues band with a 1960's garage band energy, a dynamic combination that is hard to beat.
"1861" is evidence that even though this music started in the Mississippi Delta, like a giant strong oak tree it's branches have spread far in every direction and connected us all in its sonic embrace. Somewhere in blues heaven R.L. Burnside is grinning and saying "well, well, well...."
- Brett Flemming, WEVL Memphis (Jan 5, 2008)
Myth-making and myth-busting is what the blues has always been about. For example: There are intersections where roads cross in the rural South, but there is no “crossroads.” The roots of the blues originate in Africa, but the music did not exist until the African and Anglo traditions met and commingled in post-Civil War America. The death of the blues gets predicted with numbing repetition, but then is regularly “reborn” for an audience hungry for spiritual nourishment.
The great state of Kansas is best known for producing “Dorothy” and a bombastic rock band in the 1970s. Until now. Enter Moreland & Arbuckle fresh from the heartland with their hair-raising mix of stomping Mississippi Hill Country, Delta and rural blues. Reaching the finals at the 2005 International Blues Competition in Memphis allowed them to bust out of their regional confines after performing together for only three years, and since then the dynamic duo have taken their emotionally searing music around the world.
Guitarist Aaron “Chainsaw” Moreland was born on December 16, 1974 in Emporia, Kansas. His father played and his son’s earliest memories are of hearing 8-track tapes of Kiss and Led Zeppelin records. As he grew, Moreland felt compelled to become a musician as his only option and began playing guitar at 15, serving his apprenticeship in rock bands until hearing Son House seven years later. His total immersion in the rawest prewar blues even extends to his choice of instruments that include a fretless, four-string “cigar box” guitar that contains a bass string, a National Steel and a funky old parlor guitar.
Singer and harp blower Dustin Arbuckle was born in Wichita, Kansas on December 25, 1981 and experienced a parallel upbringing with his musician father and singing from a very early age. He also followed his muse to play at 15 after hearing Elmore James and B.B. King, though the blues harp lessons would become his vocation. Prior to their current incarnation, Arbuckle and Moreland also had an electric quartet called the King Snakes that was reduced to an acoustic duo after shedding bassists once too often.
Two previous CDs, the acoustic Caney Valley Blues (2005) and electric Floyd’s Market (2006) preceded their NorthernBlues debut 1861, named for the year Kansas joined the Union. Track 1 is a rafter-shaking version of Hound Dog Taylor’s “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia” featuring Moreland’s thundering slide and Arbuckle’s muscular vocal exhortations. The band roars and whispers through nine originals in addition to R.L. Burnside’s “See My Jumper Hangin’ Out on the Line” and Ryan Taylor’s “Pittsburgh in the Morning, Philadelphia at Night.” With drummer Brad Horner rounding them out to an electric trio and guests Jeffrey Eaton (homemade, one-string “gas tank bass”) and Chris Wiser’s (Hammond B-3 organ) presence on a few tracks, the variety is delectable. “Fishin’ Hole” is all sunshine as it lopes along with an infectious rhythm and a lyric inspired by Moreland taking his sons fishing. “Tell Me Why,” by contrast, pays homage to Mississippi Fred McDowell with a dark and foreboding groove that later reaches a chilling crescendo in the menacing “Diamond Ring” that likewise laments lost love. Moreland’s acoustic picking on “Teasin’ Doney” would do Reverend Robert Wilkins proud, while Arbuckle creatively channels Jimmy Reed vocally and instrumentally on the electric boogie shuffle “Please, Please Mammy.”
Rare are the young contemporary blues cats that can convincingly evoke primal country blues without being mere dilettantes. Perhaps Aaron Moreland explains it best when he describes what he and Dustin Arbuckle express as, “Life experiences, emotive musical overtones and rhythms, honest and heartfelt music…raw, stripped down, primal and sincere.”
Dustin Arbuckle - vocals/harp
Dustin Arbuckle grew up in Andover, KS. He was first drawn to the blues at about 15 when he discovered the music of Elmore James and B.B. King. With a few rudimentary harp lessons from local hero Bill Garrison, Dustin started hitting blues jams all over the region. In addition, he put together the very young and talented "Morning After" Blues Band. Arbuckle is known for his curiously HUGE vocals, stellar front man work, and clean harp playing. In addition, this guy is virtually a walking (or is it wailing) encyclopedia on old school blues. Rarely do guys come along that can sing the old school, traditional blues with as much force, passion, and authenticity as Arbuckle.
Aaron "Chainsaw" Moreland - guitar
Aaron “Chainsaw” Moreland was born and raised in small town Kansas. Having come from a long line of musicians, it is not surprising that he gravitated toward music at a young age. He started playing guitar around age 15. Initially, Moreland played in bands that focused on the typical cliché rock that is so prevalent among many bands. However, there was always a deep appreciation and interest in Blues music. When Moreland first heard Son House at age 22, he decided that that was the music for him to play. For the last 8 years, he has studied early traditional blues and gigged hard. Moreland can hit a groove on an acoustic guitar that will rip your head clean off. His playing is both aggressive and sweet at the same time. Whether playing on his National Resonator or his 1930’s Oscar Schmidt parlor guitar, his sound is unmistakable.
Brad Horner - Drums
Brad plays the drums real good. He can play all sorts of fancy stuff. But he likes playin' blues more than most. Which sure is cool for all you that get to hear him play.
Moreland & Arbuckle - Your Man Wont Never Know
Recorded at the Murdock Theatre