Angela Perley & Howlin’ Moons: ever eclipsing its musical vision

By John Benson

Fitting in can be tricky for regional bands looking to find their niche. While new groups want their music to creatively stand out, there’s also a need to land on the right concert bills.

It’s this delicate balance that currently plagues Columbus-based outfit Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons.

“It’s so tough, because I think people sometimes have a hard time figuring out what the band is,” Perley said. “There’s kind of like a country thing, but we rock. It’s hard at times to figure out where we fit in because we have a lot of different sides to us. Some our live songs even have almost like a ’50s and ’60s R&B style.

“We kind of do a little bit of everything, but we don’t really think about it too much. There’s a lot of musical freedom that you can have as a band these days. We kind of enjoy that aspect of it.”

While the group’s earlier sound had more of a rootsy flavor, the band’s recent album, “Homemade Vision,” expanded its sound sonically. Perley points to newer tracks such as “Your Love” and “Electric Flame.” The former has an alt-country vibe, while the latter has a dreamy, psychedelic element.

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons will be playing plenty of new material when it returns to Youngstown on Friday for a show at Suzie’s Dogs & Drafts. The upcoming date is a hometown gig for Poland resident Ed Davis, who not only plays in local band The Vindys, but is one of three drummers who plays for Perley and company.

“They are an amazing band,” said Davis, who was also in Red Wanting Blue. “They’re all talented musicians, and it’s fun to play in their mix of styles. I like that we can go from a train beat, country tune to modern radio rock to a Led Zeppelin-type jam.

“Playing with them also gives me the opportunity to go on road trips in small doses and not get burned out from doing it all the time.”

From Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons’ perspective, having three percussionists means the band’s music is always presented in a slightly different fashion.

“It keeps us on our toes,” Perley said. “Everyone is really talented. They definitely know the parts of the songs, but they have very different styles and flavors they bring to the song, too. You’re always seeing something a little bit different, but it’s good for us.”

In terms of seeing something different, the Howlin’ Moons’ set list also features unreleased tunes that may appear on the group’s next CD. That includes the late ’60s, early ’70s rock-inspired songs “Dangerous Love” and “Ruby Girl.” Then there’s the group’s penchant for bringing out surprising cover songs.

“We’ve been doing Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B.,’ which shocks the audience,” Perley said. “For people who have seen us, they will call for that song, and we always end up playing it. It’s not what you’d expect the band to do. It’s kind of our wildcard song. A lot of our covers are like that. We just started doing David Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream.’”

Considering the group’s name, perhaps another Ozzy Osbourne tune, “Bark at the Moon,” would be apropos.

“Exactly,” Perley said. “That would be sweet.”

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