Close your eyes. Visualize a hot, early-August day in Central New Jersey. Two-hundred smiley, red-eyed people, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, are congregating in a field for a music festival. Many of them are wearing tie-dye, bell-bottoms, cowboy hats, and boots. The PA system is projecting the psychedelic-twang of The Byrds, Gram Parsons, and The Grateful Dead into air already filled with a thick, unrelenting, haze of dank smoke. If I asked you to guess what year all of this was taking place, you’d probably guess somewhere in the 60’s or ’70s, rightfully so, but you’d be wrong. The mental image I’ve painted for you is a scene from the band, Mojohand’s 3rd annual DIY summer music festival, “Mojofest III: Cosmic Jamboree” this past summer.
Mojohand is a Monmouth County, New Jersey-based band, whose modern take on Cosmic American Music blends together the Folk, Country, Blues, and Improvisation-infused Rock n Roll of the late '60s and early '70s with the Neo-Psychedelic sounds of today. Cosmic American Music may not seem like a genre built for these times, but Mojohand and their tight-knit community of fans, The MojoFam, beg to differ.
Not only did 2019 see the successful third installment of Mojofest, 2019 saw the group jam with Dead and Company Bassist Oteil Burbridge at Roots Rock Revival, the well-received release of their single, “Heaven’s Gate.” As well as, heavy gigging at venues like Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), The Brighton Bar (NJ), Stanhope House (NJ), Red Square (VT), Bowery Electric (NYC), as well as various basements, and DIY venues in college towns all over the Northeast.
Mojohand show no sign of slowing down as 2020 approaches, January will see the release of their new single, “Sweet Cactus Flower”, a song that Elijah Klein, singer, and guitarist of the group began to write earlier this year, upon hearing of the passing of one of their biggest musical influences, Neal Casal. “Neal was such a huge musical hero of ours…” explained Klein, “We love all of his [Neal’s] music with Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Beachwood Sparks, Ryan Adams, Circles Around The Sun and of course his incredible solo material. When I heard of his passing, I knew I had to write a song that displayed all of the things I learned about songwriting by listening to Neal’s music all these years.”
“Sweet Cactus Flower” will be released on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Bandcamp, etc. on January 15th and Mojohand will be celebrating its release with a performance in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on January 17th after Umphreys McGee’s show at the Beacon Theatre.
While a majority of Generation Z are making Tik-Toks, listening to Trap Music, and exclaiming, “OK Boomer”, Mojohand are determined to continue twanging their guitars, and traveling the country, bridging the generation gap, and bringing together people of all ages, races, and backgrounds with their rootsy, improvisational, music. As the Ol’ Locomotive that is Mojohand, barrels through the end of this decade without stopping, it is clear that they have every intention of dragging their unique Cosmic American Rock N Roll into the 2020s and beyond whether you like it or not, but they think you will.