The Moonshine Mavericks are the latest collective of high-energy and seasoned musicians with a solid pedigree of rock-n-roll credentials to kick in the stalls of local clubs with their modern country oriented sound. Formerly known as The Steel Wheels Band and the recipients of several Review Music Awards over the years, the group is comprised of Travis Paten (lead vocals); Rob Dutcher (guitarist/background vocals); Paul Hughes (drums); Bruce Humphrey (bass guitar) and Jim Pagel (guitarist/backround vocalist).
Bringing many years of stage experience to the table, with performances all over the stat of Michigan, the group is performing regularly at venues such as The Stables and Bay Lanes and is also currently working on original material. Indeed, Travis, Rob & Paul recently wrote and composed four new songs and coupled with Jim’s writing and recording knowledge, the group feels the vibe and energy are coalescing perfectly to take their musical endeavors to new heights.
With a shimmering sound that seems polished in amber and tightly wound execution, the new energy in the band is taking center stage, with both the drive and determination to achieve their goals picking up greater speed (along with new fans) at each of their performances.
Doing things differently is the group mantra and one of the first new events they have created is the First Annual Halloween Spooktacular that they are hosting on Saturday, October 18th at the Prime Event Center. Doors open at 7 PM and for more information you can go to their website or purchase tickets at the Prime, which is located at 1201 Washington Avenue in Bay City, or phone 989-684-8410. Also on the bill will be special guests The Sinclairs along with Avenue 5.
With each member of The Moonshine Mavericks having distinguished themselves over the years, not only through their work with Steel Wheels but through a litany of other popular club bands, how do they distinguish the sound of this latest project and what do they feel makes it distinct? “I think it’s a case of the young inspiring the old and the old mentoring the young,” explains Paul. “It’s a long hard journey but one with a new delivery and a new spirit.”
In terms of collective goals and musical vision, the group first officially formed in April of this year when “one door closed and another one opened and we had a new beginning,” reflects Rob. “Basically we are the result of five guys becoming refueled and refocused, with one common goal to become the best that we can, doing what we love the most – raw, energetic, in your face country music. 150 proof, for certain.”
“We wanted to keep a two-part name and come up with a name for the band that was strong,” states Jim. “Kammy Dashner and Tim Drummond came up with the name of Moonshine Mavericks and it was exactly what the band was looking for – strong and representing the purist, strongest alcohol in the world: Moonshine 150 proof.”
Newcomer Travis Paten has been “singing since he was a child,” claims his Mom & Dad, who watch proudly at most of his performances. A Bay City native, Travis began to sing in front of people at the age of 20 and became addicted to performing in front of audiences. His favorite artists that carried a heavy influence upon him are Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. Writing originals and working close with Paul Hughes in 2013 is how the link was forged.
Bassist Bruce Humphrey has been playing for 35 years and is no stranger to the music scene. Originally from Ithica, Michigan, his roots begin in rock & roll when he first saw Gene Simmons of Kiss doing his thing. In 2010 while playing with another local band, Bruce was introduced to modern country rock and found a whole new passion. His current favorite artist is Jason Aldean. Months ago when the band began rehearsing, Bruce was contacted by Tim Drummond of Hyperman Productions and he was brought in right away. “Bruce fit in right at the start,” asserts Paul.
As for Paul Hughes, he started playing drums at age 11. He was hooked after he walked past a music store and saw his first drum kit in the window. Paul’s early musical influences were Tom T. Hall, and REO Speedwagon. Paul is a hard hitting, no nonsense player. “My music style and what I like changes, if a song grabs me, it grabs me” says Paul. Having been in Steel Wheels, Hughes is a founding member of Moonshine Mavericks.
“When Steel Wheels quit being Steel Wheels, we wanted to move on and Rob and I found the best that we could find to start a fresh new sound. High energy, clean and strong, that’s what we wanted. I think we have that now”, states Hughes.
As for guitarist and vocalist Rob Dutcher, he says that Kiss is the band that also made him love music. “ZZ Top was another of my favorites. But Rhythm & Blues are my sound. “10 years ago if you would have said that I would be in country band, I would have laughed at you. Now it’s my life. Crazy how things change”
Now with some of the best guitar players being in country music, Rob’s favorites are Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban. Having been in Steel Wheels, Rob is also a founding member of Moonshine Mavericks. “Writing new music is always something that we wanted to do, now with Jim Pagel on board our line-up is complete”, says Dutcher.
Jim Pagel started playing guitar when he was 13 years old. “That’s when I was going to school at North,” he reminisces. “I remember seeing my neighbor playing a copy of a Les Paul he got from JC Penney”. A Saginaw native, Jim has a long history in the music industry. Jim was featured in Guitar Magazine after placing 35 out of 100,000 entries in Guitar Idol 2011. His early influences were Deep Purple, BB King, and 80’s music giants like Steve Vie, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jim’s favorite country artists are Chet Atkins and Johnny Hiland. Bruce and Jim have known each other for many years and have played in bands together since the 80’s, all the way to Florida and back to Michigan. Jim is the newest member of Moonshine Mavericks and certainly does make the band complete with his astute musical acumen.
With many years of experience on the stage, performances all over the state, headlining events like the Auburn Cornfest and the Munger Potato Festival, the latest flurry of energy generated by Moonshine Mavericks is definitely gaining growing attention and generating acclaim.
With new members, new energy, and new music, Moonshine Mavericks are set to host the biggest musical Halloween Extravaganza of this holiday season. Be sure to mark it on your calendar: The Halloween Spooktacular at the Prime Event Center on October 18th. Tickets are only $20.00. For more information go to their website www.moonshinemavericks.com.
16th November, 2023