Wanna be a Moonpie? Gig’s easy. All you gotta do is step on, play three hours of true country music, and you’re in like flint – in like the rest of these Texas boys who grew up emulating George Strait and Jimmy Dean. Mike & the Moonpies waltzed into these Texas dance halls about six years ago shilling true country music to two-steppers and tall drinkers nearly every single night of the week.
That’s how things came to be for Catlin and Kyle and Zach, Preston, and Johnny: Step onto the stage and keep up with this country; these standards, and the songs that Mike’s scripted. Make that old fellow dance and that young couple drink and that cute girl in the corner go on and set the world on fire.
Moonpies opened around Austin at the Broken Spoke and Hole in the Wall before running one of the most notorious weekly residencies in town on Thursdays at the White Horse. By then, the band had already bought a van, and they’d begun to hit the road. Now they average about a thousand miles every week, posting up around the cities and small towns in Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Two albums came to bear at various points in between: 2010’s Real Country and 2012’s The Hard Way, a modern take on the old goldens of country music turned towards the ones on the prowl for a real time that evening.
“It’s just different from the rest of today’s country,” says Harmeier. “All the songs are pretty traditional swing songs, and nobody’s really doing that today: popularizing traditional country music. You’ve got people who are doing it in Austin, but we’re taking it on the road and showing it off, and showing the people what that sound’s all about.
“We play dance halls that haven’t had traditional country since the Eighties. We’re bringing that back, and we’re bringing it for three hours every night.”