The inspiration for both the name Outlaws & Moonshine and their debut EP (1919) predates the band by nearly a century. Back in 1919, around a half century before the evolution of Southern Rock, the era of Prohibition began in the United States. That government miscalculation gave rise to speakeasies and moonshine while making outlaws out of bootleggers until the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
Not much good came out of Prohibition in the early 20th century. However, in 2015, Southern Rock fans will celebrate Prohibition for inspiring this Indiana quartet to take us on a journey back in time.
With their debut EP, 1919, Outlaws & Moonshine have captured the essence of legendary artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet (to name a few), added their own modern touches, and created a sound that they call “New Southern Rock.”
Beau Van is a talented guitar player and a soulful Southern Rock singer, but perhaps his greatest gift is the ability to paint a mental picture with lyrics that bring you into his world. With obvious pride of his heritage, Van has a way of romanticizing a small town, country lifestyle. Just like Sons Of Anarchy made people want to become bikers, Outlaws & Moonshine’s 1919 makes you want to hang out and party with Van (and the rest of the band) in his hometown.
Should you be so lucky as to hang out with the boys of Outlaws & Moonshine, you would likely get to learn more about the story of “Cootie Brown” (the drunkest redneck in town), as you sat on the porch sipping moonshine from a mason jar. Maybe moonshine is not your thing. Would the boys drink “Whiskey” with you all night long instead? Hell yeah…they love that stuff!
While Outlaws & Moonshine have cultivated a sound that harkens back to the glory days of Southern Rock, one of their greatest appeals is how relatable they are to the everyman, the working stiffs who understand what it’s like to grind through the week anxiously awaiting the weekend.
Van’s unapologetic, defiant embracing of “country grammar” in songs like “Hey Y’All” shows his true character, and only serves to make him more likeable (even to a “Yankee” like me whose knowledge of the South is mostly derived from watching The Dukes Of Hazzard as a kid).
Based on the first three tracks on 1919, you’d expect a song called “Redneck Me” to be dripping with “back beat boogie woogie” – the words used to describe the sound of the band in their bio. This is where the album takes an unexpected turn, showcasing deeper emotions with a southern-style love ballad in the musical vein of Kid Rock’s nostalgic country rock songs and the Jonny Van Zant classic, “Brickyard Road.”
“Different Kind Of Man” – the final track on the EP – offers a little bit of everything that Outlaws & Moonshine has to offer. From the sweet acoustic guitars and melodic harmonies to gritty, soulful vocals and bluesy guitar shredding, this Skynyrd-esque track is the definition of “New Southern Rock.”
As the saying goes…“it doesn’t have to be old to be classic.” Outlaws & Moonshine may classify themselves as “New Southern Rock,” but that is more a matter of chronology than sound. If the band had made their debut with 1919 in the ‘70s, they may very well be mentioned in the same breath as the very legends of Southern Rock that they cite as influences.