COURTESY CLARE DONNELLY
COURTESY CLARE DONNELLY

It all started with an ad on Craigslist.

“I was at work in Houston,” Danny Goldberg (NHS ’14) said. “I’d never been on the musician’s thing on Craigslist, but did so at work because I was bored. So I looked up a posting for a kind of Southern rock band. All the other postings were kind of sketch, but I actually responded. A few weeks later we had our first practice at Georgetown.”

Together, Goldberg, now the drummer for the band, and Sam Gyllenhaal, a 2011 graduate of Elon University, who was behind the Craigslist ad and is now lead vocalist, began to form a band. Four months later, Goldberg andGyllenhaal, along with Dan McCusker (COL ’16) on lead guitar, Nick Seaman (COL ‘14) on bass and Jack Holtze (COL ’16) on sax and vocals, are already booking regular live shows and have even recorded their first track, “Summer Thunder”.

The band, Old Moonlight, plays music that they describe as a blend between Southern rock and “California country.” Gyllenhaal, who writes the songs for the band, says that they have a wide range of influences, including The Eagles, Lynyrd Skinner and The Marshall Tucker Band. While the other band members had not originally been such fans of country music, they now insist that they find a common influence in country rock.

This collaboration of sound and influences has certainly proved to be a success, as the band has booked multiple shows at Mason Inn and has gathered a strong following from Georgetown students, as well as the wider D.C. area.

“We have found our niche here,” Seaman said. He credits the the supportive culture of Georgetown bands for making it easier to be recognized and, more importantly, heard.

While they maintain these classic influences, it is clear that the band is also trying to define their own sound. Part of this comes from the use of the saxaphone, which gives the band some jazz influence. Saxophonist and vocalist Holtze, who has a background of jazz and improvisation and that he uses to find his place in the band’s sound, describes himself as a big fan of the big bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

While Gyllenhaal admits that he sometimes has to restrain Holtze;s enthusiasm for jazz  and that he never imagined having a saxophone player in the band, he now sees the saxophone as integral to their sound.

The band is clearly in its element when playing live.

“One of the things that has really worked out about this whole collaboration is that we’ve all been playing since we’ve been young and we’ve all been comfortable with performing,” Goldberg said.

After performing, the group has been contacted by multiple venues who have particularly liked their sound. On campus, they play at Epicurean and Co. and Uncommon Grounds. The band credits these live performances with allowing them to try out new sounds and covers, including Katy Perry’s “Roar” which they said went over particularly well with the female crowd.

“I think we’ve put a lot of pressure on ourselves, doing all these shows within a few months, but at the same time it’s stuff we can all do because we’re used to it and can handle doing a song Sam throws at us 10 minutes before a show,” Goldberg said.

Their ease in performing live is evident in their single “Summer Thunder,” the first track the group has recorded.  A laid-back song with a clear country tone, “Summer Thunder” will make you feel as if you’re there with the band.

“It’s just a cool picture. You can put yourself there. I think everybody has some of those summer love stories, so it’s pretty relatable,” Gyllenhaal said.

Old Moonlight is relatively modest in their goals.

“Our main ambition right now is just to keep getting better. We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and we’re not satisfied yet with our sound. So we want to continue to push it and become as tight with our music as we can,” Gyllenhaal said.

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