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Bloodshot Briefing: A Moonshine Reunion

By Matt Harness

A darling of the local music scene back in the 1990s, Moonshine Willy is back together to help Bloodshot celebrate its 15th birthday party on September 12 at the Hideout.

Founded by Mike Luke, Kim Docter and Nancy Rideout, the band grew to an oversized outfit, now counting more than dozen alumni. Then life - specifically songwriter Kim Luke's first pregnancy - interrupted Willy and the band eased into retirement as the decade closed. Willy recorded three LPs with Bloodshot before hanging out the closed sign.

Mike and Kim now reside in Santa Cruz, but they are coming back to Chicago to reunite with old friends and play some music.

Beachwood Music recently caught up with Kim.

Beachwood Music: You're a California girl born and raised. What made you want to trade sunshine for dark, endless winters that steal the color straight from your skin?

Kim: I moved to Chicago in 1991 to do Second City and I got mired in the music scene. I met Mike, a Chicago native, almost immediately and started playing music. We started Moonshine Willy.

Beachwood Music: Moonshine Willy was the first single artist to sign with the nascent Bloodshot label. How did you meet Rob Miller and Nan Warshaw?

Kim: It all started at Delilah's, where Rob and Nan were spinning records. They approached us to do a compilation.

Beachwood Music: Is the rumor true? You lived across the street from the Beachwood Inn?

Kim: Yep. Right on that triangle section. It was a three-flat brick house on Beach. We lived in the garden apartment we called the dungeon. The drummer of the Three Blue Teardrops lived on the second floor and a dominatrix lived on the third floor.

That's where we lived for a couple of years and practiced. It was three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $500. That's insanely cheap. It was band headquarters.

Beachwood Music: Ever visit the bar?

Kim: At the time, it was two or three career drinkers, the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. types. There was nobody there during the second shift, at least nobody under 60.

It was not a hip place. But that made it awesome for a lot of reasons. It's always better to make disparaging remarks about your hangout to protect it.

Beachwood Music: The last album, Bastard Child, came out in 1998. That was it, huh?

Kim: We toured on that record when I was eight months pregnant with our first daughter. It was quite a 30-day tour. Exciting for everybody when I had to stop and pee every 30 minutes.

We then did some Chicago shows.

But we also started playing as Dogwater. The band had a lot of the same members. It was more pop tunes. I love that format, the three-minute tune. Moonshine Willy kind of went on the backburner.

We then started playing more kids' shows. Mike and I then moved to California.

Beachwood Music: In the course of naming the people who you worked with in the past, one name stands out to me: Mike Reed. Is that jazz drumming, Pitchfork band-booking Mike Reed?

Kim: Same guy. He will always be Mikey. He's phenomenal. He saw us playing a show without a drummer and asked to play with us. It was just perfect.
Yeah, I guess he's become kind of a big deal. He's so cool.

Beachwood Music: You nervous at all about this reunion show?

Kim: We knew we always would play again. We keep in touch, and I am still writing Moonshine Willy songs. I also wrote a song about Nancy Tannenbaum (Rideout) who died in a motorcycle accident in 2007. I plan on doing it at the Hideout.

Beachwood Music: Is it hard to believe Bloodshot is 15 years old and driving next year?

Kim: They are now like the problem teenager, and that's something to celebrate. We will be out there with the bad crowd, the one that's flunking out of high school.

Beachwood Music: Any places you have to visit when you return?

Kim: Mamma Maria's in Elmhurst has the best pizza in the world. We will eat as many as we can. It's thin crust, perfect sauce. I put giardiniera on there. You can't even get that in California. Every Christmas I get a giant jar of it.

We do tend to miss the food the most. Chicago is such a great food capital. We can eat our way from the North Side to the South Side. That's kind of terrible.

It used to be about getting drunk. Now, it's about getting fat.

Beachwood Music: Has the band practiced together lately?

Kim: No. But I certainly hope we will. We've all been in touch by e-mail, deciding on what songs to do. They've been pretty big discussions, kind of like summits. Everybody has their favorites. We will get together and settle it, probably by passing around Wild Turkey.


Sample Moonshine Willy on their MySpace page.


Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.


Posted on August 28, 2009

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POLITICS - U.S. Oligarchs & The Media.
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BOOKS - Midland Winner: The Odyssey Of Echo Company.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: Happy.

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