Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Folk trio's formation didn't start off with SMOOTH SAILING

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Red Moon Road started with a splash.

The idea to form the local roots band was hatched when Daniel Jordan and Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner ended up in the drink after a boat overturned in Lake of the Woods. They were friends before, but truly bonded after breaking into a stranger's cabin to stay warm.

"We flipped the sail boat and we couldn't get back, so we broke into a guy's place so we wouldn't get hypothermia," Jordan says. "We had some time to talk and forming a folk band was the only choice."

The two Daniels actually didn't like each other much when they first met, a couple of years before the 2010 accident. Peloquin-Hopfner was dating one of Jordan's friends and they merely tolerated each other in the beginning. Eventually, they found common ground in music -- Jordan was in party band Retro Rhythm Revue and played solo sets as singer-songwriter Johnny Moonbeam, while Peloquin-Hopfner played in prog-metal outfit Entre Parentheses -- and started hanging out without the girl in the middle, which led to their Lake of the Woods adventure and the beginning of Red Moon Road.

The duo recruited some other local musicians into the fold and released a five-song EP. The lineup evolved and devolved until the pair met Sheena Rattai, vocalist of funk band the Solutions and leader of her own project, dubbed Sheena.

Rattai came on board last summer and only played a handful of shows with her new bandmates before they hit the studio to record their debut self-titled album, being released Saturday at the West End Cultural Centre with Bog River and Neon Donkey (tickets are $15.25 at Ticketmaster and the WECC).

The album was recorded with Doc Walker guitarist Murray Pulver and at Don Benedictson's studio, located in a straw-bale house in Roseisle.

"What's really nice is you come up Don's driveway and the cellphone reception gives out, so you're out there in a bubble, which is conducive to being productive," Jordan says.

Just because their phones didn't work didn't mean they were cut off from communicating with the outside world. The studio has a high-speed Internet connection and Skype, which came in handy when filling out some sounds on the album.

The group is a trio, but the album features numerous guests from across North American who submitted their contributions via emailed files. They have some pedal-steel guitar on the album performed by an artist in Vancouver; a musician in Nashville played all the instruments that make up a string quartet -- two violins, a cello and viola; and Calvin Vollrath, who lives in Alberta, contributed some fiddle.

"We have people playing on our album we've never met. It was really cool. For me, this blew my mind, but for Murray and Don, that's how things go these days," Jordan says.

Their out-of-town collaborators won't be at the show, but Red Moon Road will be joined onstage Saturday by numerous guests, including Pulver, Benedictson and members of their "extended band," bassist Luke Sellick and violinist Beth Hamilton, who are a regular part of the group's live show.

The album has been in the hands of the band for two months, but other than selling it during a recent tour as part of the Home Routes house-concert series, the band has kept it under wraps so it will be fresh to most people going to Saturday's release party.

Then it's time to hit the road again with a series of western Canadian dates that will lead into the summer festival season.

After playing the same set night after night during a two-and-a-half week stint as the drummer in the band of the Prairie Theatre Exchange production of Altar Boyz, Jordan is looking forward to switching things up.

"We do a form of acting, but we're acting as ourselves. The theatre is the same every night, but on tour we did a set every single night and it never got old. I think I could do that every single night," he says.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2012 E7

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