Musician Matthew Moon, headlining the 11th annual Harvest Moon Celebration this weekend, is no stranger to Ogden's Historic 25th Street.
Moon has been playing Ogden for 10-plus years, performing enough times at Heidi Harwood and Bill Parker's 25th Street venues, The City Club and Brewskis, to make friends with the couple. Moon can also count as friends and fans many of the people of Ogden, and those who make up the Historic 25th Street Business Association, who organize the annual end-of-summer festival.
"Ogden has been a second home to me since 2002," said Moon, calling from home in Aspen, Colo. "I can't wait to play this festival. Heidi has been trying to get me involved for years, and it never made sense until this year, and we are excited to do it. ... This is great it finally worked out."
Moon moved back to Colorado, where he spent most of his boyhood, in July of this year. Since 2005, he has lived mostly in Los Angeles. He did, however, take a yearlong sabbatical of sorts in Peru. His sister lives in the mountain town of Cusco, where she facilitates transformational energy healings, said Moon. He spent 2009 learning from her and from a shaman of the Amazon.
"I went down there to just learn about myself, to get closer to nature, and what ended up happening is the culture had a profound effect on me. Their concepts of God and the way they view the universe had a profound impact. ... I hope to go back in the next year. I don't know for how long. A month does not seem long enough. Two months would be better."
Moon said that it was in Peru where the seeds of his forthcoming studio record, his fifth, took root. He hopes to release the record early next year.
"Peru taught me that my natural surroundings were really important to my work," said Moon. "That is what I am doing here in Aspen, working on this recording. I have a little cabin, about two miles out of town, and it is amazing."
The cabin is in an area that Moon and his family used to frequent for a week each summer, in the years when he was age 3 to 16.
"When you spend a lot of time in a place as a kid, it has a profound effect on the rest of your life -- the smells, just everything up here, the feel of it -- it is a good place for me to call home base."
Moon said he is bringing a band of Aspen-area talent, musicians he also plans to have play with him on his final Denver sessions for the new record.
"My bass player is one of the best I've ever played with -- Steven Vidamour, originally from Liverpool (England). He has this sort of Motown thing to him that is just incredible. I met him here, in the past few months. And then we have this great kid playing drums, Toby Britt. He is originally from Carbondale (Colo.), but he has been in Brooklyn going to school, and he has a great jazz background and is a great listener. And then my main guy -- and one of the reasons I moved up here -- is my guitar player, Jai Vatuk."
Moon met Vatuk via his friend, the renowned percussionist Wally Ingram, a talent who has played with Sheryl Crow, Jackson Browne and Mark Lindley. Ingram played with Moon in a couple of different outfits, and also produced his EP "House of Love."
Moon is still trying to decide if he'll also bring along his newest "baby," a Weissenborn lap-steel guitar that he has been teaching himself to play.
"The numbers we play on that are a little slower, but I will probably bring it with me," he said. "Maybe do one on that. I am absolutely in love with that instrument."
Besides getting acclimated to Colorado once more, and making a new record, Moon is also using this time of life to direct his energies and talents toward helping out sundry causes with benefit performances.
"I have really been trying to give back lately," he said. "It has a lot to do with my time in Peru, and my sister -- she really inspires me. Today is her birthday, and what is she doing? Feeding the needy. I want to be more like that. That is the main foundation of what I am doing now, and where I am coming from, heart-wise."