About

L-R Top: Ron Smith, Chris Woodall, Kevin Ramsey, Steve Basham; Bottom: John Roberts, John Kirkland

LunaGroova at Millenium, 1998

 From 1996 to 1999,  LunaGroova laid down some funky grooves upon the Lexington Music Scene.   Since that time, the guys went their various ways and did a variety of  things.  Though short in duration, it was a hell of a ride.  This site  was created to document and make available to anyone interested the  LunaGroova story.   

A Brief History of a Band Called LunaGroova

The Story

 

Before LunaGroova 

In  the summer of 1996, a group of guys in Lexington, Kentucky formed a  funk/rap/rock ensemble called House of Funk. The group enjoyed modest  sucess, playing in Lexington and Richmond.  In October 1996, House of  Funk opened for RUN DMC at the House of Heresy, followed by a show at  the legendary Wrockledge. After a few short months, however,  tensions  between the singer and the band escalated, the singer was ejected, and  the four remaining musicians formed a new group.

 
After struggling to find a new band name, LunaGroova was chosen. The name reflected the concept of Moon Groovers, or more  concretely, a group of foks who came out late at night to make funky  music.  The name stuck.  Kevin Ramsey, Ron Smith, John Roberts, and John  Kirkland were LunaGroova.
Rolling The  first show played under the new name was at the House of Heresy in  Downtown Lexington for a crowd of ten people. Despite the lull, by the  spring of 1997, the band was playing shows around town.  The Arena and  Lynagh's were staples, along with House of Heresy (and their astute  sound tech, Tootie, to whom homage was paid in the song "Sound Man"). 


Connections  were made with other bands in the area, including a Cincinnati act  called Fixer.  This opened doors to the Cincy scene, allowing LunaGroova  to play at Susdsy Malone's occasionally.  On July 4th, the band headed  to Never on Sunday, a bar that was known in the '80s as a heavy metal  joint frequented by some notable names in metal.  The directions to the  place, however, weren't all too clear.  Trying to find the right road,  the band took a wrong turn, and spent two hours lost in the Over the  Rhine neighborhood.  A colorful area by nature, the area was especially  lively for the Fourth of July.  It was a real challenge to find the way  to the club that night.  At about 11 PM, the guys rolled into the lot of  Never on Sunday.  Being two hours late, they immediately loaded in, set  up on stage, and began playing without a sound check.  Two guitar  strings broke in the first five minutes, and needless to say, the sound  was horrible. After careening through an abreviated set, the guys loaded  out and took off.  It was a bad night on the road, for certain.


Things  were looking up, otherwise.  The legendary Lynagh's music club in  Lexington began booking the band more frequently, once setting  LunaGroova to open for Johnny Socko.  It was a great show, musically,  and began to expose the guys to a greater audience.  House parties were  also exposing the group to large crowds, and demonstrating the ability  to really improvise and jam.  In August that year, however, drummer Ron  Smith needed a change in life, and moved south to the Gulf Coast. 

  
The  guys needed a bit of a break, at that point.  Several weeks later, the  group came together to play a party on Maxwell Street.  Ron was still  away, so Aaron Joel sat in on drums, trading with Kevin Ramsey. At this  point in time, other musicians were starting to jam with the group as  well. On the night of the party, a DJ was also present.  There was no  prepared setlist, or songs necessarily, but the show went on.  Two hours  of insane, entrancing, undulating music came out of that house that  night.  The music never stopped--all one song, two hours.  A neighbor  came over in his nightrobe to complain about the noise, and stood in the  middle of the living room, transfixed by the music.  Two police  officers showed up--walkedin the door, and they too, were entranced.   This was probably the single deepest public performance by the band,  litterally hypnotizing everyone within earshot.  As a local musical  entity, LunaGroova was never quite the same again.     

Flying
In  October,  Ron came home.  The group returned to the practice schedule  there had been all along.  About five nights a week, the guys would  gather in the space (in a storage shed in Nicholasville) at about 10 PM,  then play until 3 or 4 AM.  This intense practice schedule allowed the  group to tighten up their improvisational skills as well as develop  tight control over the twists and turns that made up the music of  LunaGroova.  This constant practice also allowed a growing group of  friends and other musicians to collect in one spot nightly.  Great  connections and friendships were made with other bands inhabiting the  same storage park.

   
About this time, guitarist Charlie  Hockensmith joined the group.  He added a depth of technical skill and  musicality.  Soon, Chris Woodall joined on keyboards.  Over the winter,  Paul Ward joined as singer and dancer extraordinaire. Steve Basham began  to sit in on percussion.  Horn players sat in regularly, and Aaron Joel  came by on occasion.  Dozens of others attended frequently, and the  late night jam sessions were a happening place to be.   
Over the  winter, shows were played at The Spectrum (Former House of Heresy), and  the club next door called Millenium (the space now occupied by The  Dame).  A club called the Firehouse in Richmond opened near the Eastern  Kentucky University campus, and became a regular stop for the band.   About this time, a little band called Pontius Co-Pilot played their  first show opening for LunaGroova at the Millenium (Pontius went on to  enjoy a very respectable career, becoming a well-known act in  underground indie circles). 

  
In early 1998, LunaGroova played at  A1A with Mulch.  Things were starting to warm up; regular gigs at  Lynagh's were now happening, the media published articles about the  band, and a growing following came to shows.  Things were sticky with  some members of the band, however.  Paul Ward had already moved on to  other things (he went on to form Dreadnaut and What Happened When), and  Charlie Hockensmith was no longer with the group.  The group now held  six-John Roberts, John Kirkland, Ron Smith, Kevin Ramsey, Chris Woodall,  and Steve Basham. 

  
Summer of 1998 was a busy time for  LunaGroova.  Besides several shows played in clubs around the area, the  group played a show at what would come to be known as "The Funny Farm". Mark  Faulk, a musician with Echo Network and other acts in the area, had the  use of his father's farm in Casey County.  LunaGroova set up in an old  barn, and played a show using a generator.  About 200 people were on the  farm that night, and the party didn't stop for days.  A fire burned in a  circle, and folks with drums played all night long.  The Funny Farm was  a very special place for the guys in the band, as well as for so many  others.

 
Express Your Highways In  July and August, LunaGroova set up shop at Wakefire Studios.  Richard  Easterling recorded, mixed, and mastered their debut CD project, Express Your Highways.  A clean, digital recording had eluded the group up to that point.  Nine  tracks were selected to be on the disc, ranging from early works like  "Monkey" and "Ouse", to more recent pieces like "Lesson/Autonom".  It  would be some time before the project would be released, however. Soon  after the recording was finished, LunaGroova was featured on a live  radio broadcast called "Local Live".  The hour-long show ran on WKQQ in  Lexington, and became the basis of the live CD later released as Grooves of the Moon .  

 
Using the internet  to swap songs and communicate via HTML was becoming more common and  accessible around this time. LunaGroova had established a web presence,  and was beginning to offer audio samples and band info online.  This  opened up a whole new world for the band.

  
MP3 


Other  bands and individuals all over were now able to find LunaGroova.  This  capability led to exchanges with out of town acts from all over.   Blakrayn was a group based in Charlotte, NC. They played a show at the  Millenium with LunaGroova, and in return the band played at a festival  in October 1998 at Fat City in Charlotte.  Another band called Similar  Nature made a connection via the web.  This led to LunaGroova playing at  the Southgate House later that year.  


Late that year, Express Your Highways was released via the then embryonic MP3.com.  Thousands of downloads  and many CDs were sold--all over the planet.  Copies sent to radio  stations around the world were played.  Requests for information and CDs  came from places as far away as Russia, Japan, and Mexico.  The CD  actually charted in Bryansk, Russia, selling several copies and  substantial airplay on regional radio.   
Other media outlets were  showing interest, as well.  A cable network called Burly Bear, which  aired on college campuses nationwide, contacted the band with an offer  to perform. The office was based in New York City, and the project was  headed up by Lorne Michaels, of Saturday Night Live. The opportunities were large--and the band was very busy.  

 
Playing  several shows a month, on top of practicing almost every night was a  tiring pace.  By late 1998, LunaGroova was playing almost weekly, and  sometimes more often.  Response from the public was good.  A regular  series of shows at Lynagh's generally would start around 9 PM with a  jazz groove session, take a break at 10, friends of the band would set up  on stage and play drums and digereedoo, and sometimes an electric  sitar.  Members of the group would file on and off the stage, playing  with this ad hoc act for awhile, then retreating.  The audience would  grow, and people were captivated by the psychedelic and dischordant jams  that evolved.  Around 11:30, the band would come back on and take off  where the guests left off.  Around midnight, the guys would shift into  what was referred to the "hour of power"; and would drive home the night  with high energy songs and jams.  By the end, folks were drunk and wild  and crazed--the set would usually end with "Sound Man", "Sickness" or  some other deranged tune like "Shadow".  It was always a marathon  affair. 


From the outside, everything seemed to be coming together  for the band.  By January 1999, though, things internally were swerving  off track.  The constant schedule had worn holes in the lives of the  band members.  Chris Woodall was no longer playing keys with the group,  and there was tension among the other members.  Shows at Boomerangs, the  Millenium, and Lynagh's ran almost back to back.  Attendance declined, a  result of overexposure.  There wasn't enough money to get to New York,  where television and "the next level" awaited.  Also, the members of he  band had grown up.  Much had happened since the beginning--babies were  born, friends had died, people were married and divorced.  Families,  spouses, and girlfriends were being ignored, jobs that actually paid the  bills were being sidelined, and life outside the band was decreasing  steadily.  On January 19th, 1999, LunaGroova played what would be its  last show together, at Lynagh's.  The next day, the guys came together  to talk about ending it.  It had been a hell of a ride, but the rest of  life and the world beyond waited.  The end was meant to be. 


Post Script
The CD continued to sell online, and folks still hit the web page.  Over 6,000 downloads had been served, and a live CD, Grooves of the Moon was released on MP3.com.  It was unfortunate, but inevitable--LunaGroova was no longer on the scene.  

LunaGroova at Sudsy Malones in Cincinnati, 1997

LunaGroova at Sudsy Malones in Cincinnati, 1997

Fear, Lust, Insanity

Fear, Lust, Insanity Video. From the album Express Your Highways.

Music

Discography

Octangular Prism: 1997 live recording used as a demo, on cassette.

Quantum Foam: 1997 live recording, on cassette; features the "Quantum Foam" sequence--a jam where space and time were ripped apart. The recording cuts out at this moment, coming back on several minutes later. From a cosmological perspective, though, we may still be there.

Express Your Highways: 1998 studio album, released on CD and via MP3.com, on John Kirkland's Hypothetic Music label. Download Express Your Highways here.

Grooves of the Moon: 1998 live CD, recorded from a radio show the band performed on that summer. Released via CD and MP3.com on Hypothetic Music.

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Epilogue

 After  January of 1999, the members of LunaGroova went on to other musical and  personal pursuits.  Through the years, the guys occasionally  joined together in different groupings and under different band names.   Some of the bands that featured former members of LunaGroova include:  Astrolite (and Astrolyte), Green Theory, Filth Porn, Dreadknot, What  Happened When, Groovnotic, Tryptamine Arkestra, The Middle Fork, and  probably many others.    

The story of what happened afterward  is still being written.  People move away, come home, marry, divorce,  struggle with demons, and celebrate victories.  LunaGroova was a group  of average people who set out on an unusual path. Along the way, they  participated in some incredible happenings, played some incredible  music, reached out across the globe, and sometimes suffered dark  moments.  And though they never reached the mythical fame or fortune,  the story is a great one that continues even today.            Add your stories, recollections, and revisions to the LunaGroova story--send an email to info @lunagroova.com with your name and comments, or click on the guest book link on the home page.       

Groovnotic-John Kirkland's band; funky rock and roll

The Middle Fork-Ron Smith tears across a progressive, sometimes hard-edged, sometimes psychedelic landscape

Tryptamine Arkestra-Kevin Ramsey played with this group; Mark Faulk (a la The Funny Farm) plays percussion

Green Theory-Ron Smith played with this group for a while; Very cool, extremely tight


RIP, Kevin Ramsey

Our brother Kevin, 1975-2010

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