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Moon Mountain Ramblers at Alex's

Members of the Moon Mountain Ramblers, a string band from Bend, describe their music as a melting pot of jazz, country, rock and a lot of bluegrass.

"It's a real eclectic mix of string band music," says guitarist Matt Hyman.

Hyman says string music appeals to all ages and compares the Ramblers to the String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon and "pretty much any acoustic band with a drummer."

"We've been together eight years, and it's always been this mishmash of music," he says.

Hyman says his inspiration comes from the Allman Brothers Band, his friends and his "bluegrass background coming from Tennessee."

The Moon Mountain Ramblers will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18-19, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. The band also will play from about 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Ashland Plaza.

Along with Hyman, The Ramblers consist of Dan McClung on upright bass and harmonica, Jenny Harada on violin, Joe Schulte on mandolin and Dale Largent on percussion.

The band has produced three albums and is working on its fourth, which it hopes to release in spring 2010. Its most recent album, "Let It All Be Good," was released in January. The band has sold 700 copies of the 11-track album, and its opening promotional show at the Tower Theatre in Bend sold out. The Ramblers are planning to release a double-disc live recording from the Tower Theatre in the beginning of December.

The Ramblers usually do about three gigs a week, from Ashland to Portland and into Southern Washington. They have opened for popular acoustic artist David Grisman and the renowned bluegrass band Del McCoury. Two years ago the Ramblers also started their own festival, The Moon Mountain Music Festival, which takes place Labor Day weekend at Elk Lake in Bend. The first year, the festival drew a crowd of 1,200.

"We draw a pretty big crowd locally just because we own a music store, and teach lessons," Hyman says.

Bassist McClung owns the Music Makers in Bend, and Hyman manages the shop. The other three band members teach music lessons through outlets in the community.

"We're trying to do everything in music and make it all happen," Hyman says.

He says the band members have been able to balance their out-of-town gigs with working and living in Bend. He thinks it's one of the reasons they have been able to stay together and play together for so long.

"They (the audience) see it. They feel it. They hear it and that's what makes the shows so fun," Hyman says.

Hear music by The Moon Mountain Ramblers at myspace.com/moonmountainramblers or see moonmountainramblers.com for information about the band.

Cover for the show at Alex's is $3. Call 482-8818.

Teresa Thomas is an intern at the Mail Tribune. Reach her at intern1@mailtribune.com or at 776-4464.

Left to right: Dan McClung, Jenny Harada, Dale Largent, Joe Schulte and Matt Hyman are the Moon Mountain Ramblers. - Photo courtesy of Ben Moon