Get your alt-country rock groove on when Avant Farm performs at Northeast State Community College on June 20. The performance continues the College’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series. The annual summer concert series features local, regional, and nationally known musical artists.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The concert – with free admission – begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theater at the Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Airport.
Influenced by no less than Hank Williams Sr., The Talking Heads, Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, and Southern Culture on the Skids, the Avant Farm sound formed when East Tennessee musical standouts and spouses Mike and Melanie Hilliard approached singer-songwriter Eric Moon to collaborate on a project. The three had shared bills together with the Hilliards’ band Heppy Kats and Moon’s Bootleg Turn. The partnership fit just right, and Avant Farm planted its seeds.
“I loved playing shows with the Hilliards,” says Eric. “I have been following Mike since he was with Floyd Eats Mayberry and The Knuckle Draggers.”
The two share vocal and songwriting duties with Mike Hilliard on guitar and Moon on bass, along with what the two call “our secret weapon,” referring to Melanie’s pedal steel and lap steel guitar skills.
“Once we all got together, it felt like we were meeting our musical kindred spirits. We’ve just kept on rocking since that first jam, playing some Hilliard or Moon creations along with our favorite old country and rock and roll songs,” says Mike.
Moon then recruited long time band mate and drummer Russell Overholt to complete the rhythm section. Finally, Eric’s son Ean Moon came onboard, adding a vintage lead guitar sound with his classic country and rockabilly licks and leads.
Moon says, “In this project we are literally paying tribute to the last 70 years of music with our own twist on it. It is experimental, with this arrangement of musicians, and it has its own unique edge. We’re having a blast and we hope everyone will hear something they like.”