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Moving Mountains breathes a little fresh air


It's sheer music biz savvy: A band celebrates 10 years together, releases a new CD, hires a new bass player, sets up a celebratory gig, and then breaks up. Pure genius.

That's precisely what Moving Mountains -- then known as The Goods -- did a year and a half ago. And the band -- drummer Jeff "Woody" Woodruff; bassist Chris Meeker; Lou Chitty, keys; and guitarist Miles McHugh -- was at the top of its game when it pulled the plug.

"That does need an explanation, doesn't it?" Woodruff says. "In November of 2016, we played a show at Three Heads Brewing to celebrate our 10th year anniversary as The Goods. We also released a four-song EP called "Departure," which was a fitting title because that was our last show."

The band didn't give a specific reason for the break up, but the subsequent hiatus didn't last all that long. The band found itself holed up in its cluttered studio in Fairport, and what emerged in the coming months was a collection of songs that, perhaps, sounded like distant cousins to Goods material, with its plural beats and jam. But this new sound had a keener edge and progressive rock finesse and volume. There are a whole lot of fresh dynamics in there as well, with stretched out progressions and grooves. The quartet has taken its old, harmonious sound and re-tooled it, making it darker and, frankly, better.

"That was on purpose," says Lou Chitty. And it was made possible by the band members' unorthodox approach to their instruments, starting with the drums.

"I try to stay in touch with the groove no matter how fancy it gets," Woodruff says. "My style is an amalgamation of rock, Afro-Cuban with traditional West African drum, and xylophone rhythms and melodies. I try to be a musical drummer and to be as melodic as I am rhythmic."

Woodruff gets a heap of help on the bottom end from Meeker, who lets his fingers do the walking all over his five-string bass.

The guitar and keys are the progressive hot sauce that gets liberally slathered over the top. Both guitarist McHugh and keyboardist Chitty play their instruments in more of a supporting role, layering on texture and atmosphere. McHugh contributes his sound via a parade of stomp boxes at his feet.

"I get a lot of comments on the number of pedals I have," McHugh says, "usually from other players. But I'm trying to learn different combinations. I like to create different colors. Straight-up guitar sounds, everyone has heard those already. And with Woody's drumming, there's a lot going on. So instead of filling up those other spaces I play more like a keyboard."

With its sound as new as it is itself, Woodruff concedes Moving Mountains' new approach is a balance between responsibility and freedom; the band plays them.

"Artistically," he says, "I feel there is more possibility."