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MohaviSoul bootlegs the bootleggers

“He set up high-end microphones next to the soundboard and recorded us”

“Every Second” led to a bunch of Stories and Memories for MohaviSoul
“Every Second” led to a bunch of Stories and Memories for MohaviSoul

Bluegrass beginnings: Mandolinist Randy Hanson first met guitarist Mark Miller in 2012 at Cliff Keller’s San Diego Songwriters MeetUp. At the weekly gathering, the two were paired up and given a song title, “Every Second,” for which they had to create music and lyrics. Miller, a West Virginia native, had a history of playing in rock cover bands, but was primarily working on ballads in the songwriters’ group at the time. “I hijacked him and said, ‘Let’s do this in a bluegrass instrumentation format,’” Hanson explains. “That’s how that kind of evolved. It was kind of new for him. He’s learned a lot of bluegrass cover tunes since then.”

The duo performed in South Park at an event held by the songwriter group, and took note of two musicians who were filling in as part of the house band: banjo player Jason Weiss and bassist Orion Boucher. Hanson and Miller were impressed enough to invite the two musicians to join their new bluegrass project. Boucher’s background was more jazz and funk, and “he’s a pretty good rapper as well,” according to Hanson. Weiss, surprisingly enough, started out on jazz guitar before discovering the banjo. Since Hanson’s background was playing in bar bands, MohaviSoul would be the first bluegrass outfit for all four members.

After the lineup was set, the group quickly released two EPs in 2013. The first included Hanson and Miller’s initial songwriting experiment, “Every Second,” which became the name of the disc as well. A full-length, Hometown Blues, arrived in 2017. By this point, the band had grown tired of doing smaller bar gigs around town, and the men were looking to show off their skills in a different context. “We really wanted to try and grow and transition into being more of a festival band and do house concerts and weddings. We were really trying to step away.”

Locally, MohaviSoul has played bluegrass festivals in Ramona, Santee, and Temecula. But how does the band go over at a non-bluegrass-specific event such as the OB Street Fair? “Pretty damn well,” according to Hanson. “We get a great crowd and people stick around. They want to hear it. We do a fun mix of some unusual covers and our own stuff.”

In 2019, the band was on a roll, playing national and local festivals. That’s when Hanson and Miller started writing songs for the follow-up to Hometown Blues. Three of the tracks appeared on an impromptu live album recorded, unknowingly, at their appearance at the Huck Finn Jubilee in Ontario, California in 2019. “We had no idea that was going to happen. We played the festival, and then I got this message that this guy had recorded us. It was a Grateful Dead/Phish kind of a thing where he set up some high-end microphones right next to the soundboard and recorded us, which we knew nothing of.” The mics worked well enough that the band chose to release the full concert set themselves. However, they decided to re-record the songs for the upcoming album because, according to Hanson, “the quality was good, but it wasn’t great.”

Alongside some guests and their fiddle player Dan Sankey (with the band since 2014, though he missed the previous album recording sessions due to a hand operation), the group knocked out the thirteen songs that appear on their new full-length, Stories and Memories, tracked during the pandemic at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo. Orion Boucher even squeezed one of his own songs onto the album, “Self-Imposed Highs and Lows,” before he moved away from San Diego. Ben Bostwick has stepped in to cover the low end, while Boucher re-acclimates himself with his hometown of Bishop, California. Luckily for Boucher, if he’s looking to join a bluegrass band there, he’s apparently got a good in.

Past Event

MohaviSoul

“His mom and some other dear friends in the area there actually do have a bluegrass band,” says Hanson. “His dad was involved in that as well and played mandolin. So, he did have a bluegrass upbringing.” MohaviSound appears Friday, February 11, at Grand Ole BBQ in Flinn Springs.

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“Every Second” led to a bunch of Stories and Memories for MohaviSoul
“Every Second” led to a bunch of Stories and Memories for MohaviSoul

Bluegrass beginnings: Mandolinist Randy Hanson first met guitarist Mark Miller in 2012 at Cliff Keller’s San Diego Songwriters MeetUp. At the weekly gathering, the two were paired up and given a song title, “Every Second,” for which they had to create music and lyrics. Miller, a West Virginia native, had a history of playing in rock cover bands, but was primarily working on ballads in the songwriters’ group at the time. “I hijacked him and said, ‘Let’s do this in a bluegrass instrumentation format,’” Hanson explains. “That’s how that kind of evolved. It was kind of new for him. He’s learned a lot of bluegrass cover tunes since then.”

The duo performed in South Park at an event held by the songwriter group, and took note of two musicians who were filling in as part of the house band: banjo player Jason Weiss and bassist Orion Boucher. Hanson and Miller were impressed enough to invite the two musicians to join their new bluegrass project. Boucher’s background was more jazz and funk, and “he’s a pretty good rapper as well,” according to Hanson. Weiss, surprisingly enough, started out on jazz guitar before discovering the banjo. Since Hanson’s background was playing in bar bands, MohaviSoul would be the first bluegrass outfit for all four members.

After the lineup was set, the group quickly released two EPs in 2013. The first included Hanson and Miller’s initial songwriting experiment, “Every Second,” which became the name of the disc as well. A full-length, Hometown Blues, arrived in 2017. By this point, the band had grown tired of doing smaller bar gigs around town, and the men were looking to show off their skills in a different context. “We really wanted to try and grow and transition into being more of a festival band and do house concerts and weddings. We were really trying to step away.”

Locally, MohaviSoul has played bluegrass festivals in Ramona, Santee, and Temecula. But how does the band go over at a non-bluegrass-specific event such as the OB Street Fair? “Pretty damn well,” according to Hanson. “We get a great crowd and people stick around. They want to hear it. We do a fun mix of some unusual covers and our own stuff.”

In 2019, the band was on a roll, playing national and local festivals. That’s when Hanson and Miller started writing songs for the follow-up to Hometown Blues. Three of the tracks appeared on an impromptu live album recorded, unknowingly, at their appearance at the Huck Finn Jubilee in Ontario, California in 2019. “We had no idea that was going to happen. We played the festival, and then I got this message that this guy had recorded us. It was a Grateful Dead/Phish kind of a thing where he set up some high-end microphones right next to the soundboard and recorded us, which we knew nothing of.” The mics worked well enough that the band chose to release the full concert set themselves. However, they decided to re-record the songs for the upcoming album because, according to Hanson, “the quality was good, but it wasn’t great.”

Alongside some guests and their fiddle player Dan Sankey (with the band since 2014, though he missed the previous album recording sessions due to a hand operation), the group knocked out the thirteen songs that appear on their new full-length, Stories and Memories, tracked during the pandemic at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo. Orion Boucher even squeezed one of his own songs onto the album, “Self-Imposed Highs and Lows,” before he moved away from San Diego. Ben Bostwick has stepped in to cover the low end, while Boucher re-acclimates himself with his hometown of Bishop, California. Luckily for Boucher, if he’s looking to join a bluegrass band there, he’s apparently got a good in.

Past Event

MohaviSoul

“His mom and some other dear friends in the area there actually do have a bluegrass band,” says Hanson. “His dad was involved in that as well and played mandolin. So, he did have a bluegrass upbringing.” MohaviSound appears Friday, February 11, at Grand Ole BBQ in Flinn Springs.

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