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moe. thriving in the land of jams

Regardless of whether or not you use a capital letter to spell the band's name or if you end it with a period, moe. is more about the music than three letters and some punctuation thrown in for good measure.

For the last 18 years, the band has grown a solid following -- affectionately called "moe.rons" -- that thrives on each noodling guitar riff and every extended groove. While currently touring in support of its latest album, Sticks and Stones, which was released in January of this year, the quintet will perform for three nights at Charlotte's Neighborhood Theatre.

"We've done it in other places, but not often," guitarist Chuck Garvey says from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. "We once played the Visulite as Monkeys On Ecstasy as a kind of secret gig. This is gonna be a lot of fun and something we're definitely looking forward to."

Being in town for an extended visit allows the group to do some shopping, repair any equipment and explore the area while also getting a bit more immersed in the city. At least one member will also get involved personally while the band is in town. Fans will be volunteering with the Charlotte Rescue Mission, 907 W. 1st St., to assist with their meal program on April 3 and 4. Singer/guitarist Al Schnier will join fans to help with Friday's lunch.

"'Why Charlotte?' is a good question," Garvey says. "Charlotte is one of the first places where we established a following in the South. A place called Jack Straw's really took us in and helped us out. That was a Southern home base for us. We still have a ton of friends there."

Performing for multiple nights allows the band to get a little more comfortable. It removes the stress of traveling, while giving them the opportunity to feel a little more at home -- "We'll get a little more unruly," Garvey says with a laugh.

Sticks and Stones offered moe. a slight departure from the band's usual recording style. Instead of using its traditional method of recording in a well-equipped studio or going through a larger studio via the Sony label, the band made an effort to change the process to enhance its creative path in recording.

Moe. picked a church in a remote location, set up their equipment and played the basic tracks as a full band and then went back to overdub. They wrote songs and immediately recorded them as they went along in order to capture more of the band's live energy. "It was a fresh way to do it," Garvey says. "You didn't have time to overthink anything. It's really fun when you have a creative burst that's really big and short-lived. It's pretty intense. I think the results are pretty amazing."

He notes the method was time-effective and worked, but whether they do it again on the next recording has yet to be seen.

They've already done two touring legs in support of the new album, so the new songs are just starting to get their own legs. While fans are taking note of the short length of most songs on the album, Garvey points out that while it wasn't the intention while writing, it affords them the opportunity to jam and open them up a bit while performing.

"A couple of the songs have taken on a different life, at least to me," he says. "A couple of songs have turned out to be really powerful when we play them live. They've all been really fun to play, but after having the opportunity to blow 'em up a little bit more, they've taken on new life."

In addition to their studio efforts, moe. has also released five Warts and All albums of live material. Garvey says the sixth one should be available soon, noting that artwork for the album was recently finished.

As for the band's name, Garvey says the period and the name get asked about all the time. "It's short and to the point and (the period) has become an institution," he says.

While the band is gearing up for more touring and already has plans for the summer, there is also a light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting some time off. Moe. plans to take a break in the fall and not return to perform until 2009, but Garvey stops short of using the dreaded 'h' word.

"We just announced we'll be taking a short break," he says. "We don't have any shows booked and don't plan on it. It's not a hiatus. We've been doing this for 18 years and have never taken a break. We've toured nonstop and put out two albums in the last four years. This will be a bit open-ended. We need a chance to take a breath."

The band moe. will be performing at the Neighborhood Theatre on April 3, 4 and 5. Tickets are $25 in advance and $27 on the day of the show. Shows will start at 9 p.m.

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