Rock ‘n’ Roll and Gritty Grooves

Photo courtesy of Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons.

By Brigitte Petras

Photo courtesy of Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons.
Photo courtesy of Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons.

Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on April 16 at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts in downtown Youngstown. The free event is hosted by Youngstown State University’s Student Activities and the opening performance will be Karolina Ahonen, a current student at YSU.

The band has created music inspired by life experiences, other local bands and old amplifiers. With Jeff Martin on drums, Chris Connor on lead guitar, Billy Zehnal on bass and Angela Perley on guitar, vocals and musical saw, the members create an Americana roots rock sound with a country and blues influence.

The band came together in late 2008 when Vital Production Studios introduced Perley’s own music to the future band members. Zehnal heard Perley’s own demos recorded from her porch in Athens, Ohio, which was packaged in a simple paper bag with some decorative drawings.

“I like how [Perley] constructs her melodies — I think they’re really catchy and I love her lyrics,” Zehnal said. “There’s something that draws me to them. We [band members] were always curious about how she sings certain vowels and I’m still not sure how that happens.”

Once Zehnal heard her music, he convinced their bass player to collaborate as well.

“Angela [Perley] called it a musical blind date because we all met up at the studio one day and we’d already learned the songs so we just started playing and had a nice jam session,” Zehnal said. “Ever since then we’ve been recording and writing music together.”

Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons have produced four EPs and one album called “Hey Kid.” Their music has evolved to become more rock ‘n’ roll over time. Currently the band is working on a new album to be released late fall of 2015.

“The EPs were a quick growing process of becoming a band together and learning to play with each other,” Perley said. “[The last album] sounded a little more gritty, a little more rock ‘n’ roll.”

Zehnal said he believes that the upcoming album will bring a different sound than what fans of the band are used to.

“The next album will be heavy with more dreamy elements,” Zehnal said. “It’s still rooted, like Americana.”

Although the band has performed before in downtown Youngstown at Cedar’s West End Bar roughly a year ago, this will be their first time playing at Suzie’s.

“I just love the energy of a live crowd and just the interaction with people at the shows,” Perley said. “Every venue of all these cities and town is so different. Each place is a unique experience.”

The performance at Suzie’s will also be supported by the Poverty Awareness in Youngstown Organization. PAYO is a student organization that will be speaking before the performance about the issue and passing out white ribbons symbolizing poverty.

Carolyn Jesko, coordinator for Student Activities, explained why the organization has been partnering with local causes since the beginning of spring 2015.

“We figured we’re Student Activities, why not attach a cause to it and help raise awareness in Youngstown and around our community,” Jesko said. “[Student Activities] choose venues that have had music in the past, and make sure that people under 21 are able to come in. It’s all free and open to the public as well.”