The brainchild of frontman and primary songwriter Graham Guest, Moses Guest has been delivering straight-up Grateful Dead-influenced jam band music since their inception.
Coming together in 1995, the Texas-based Guest joined with bassist Sean Simon and drummer John Chupin. With Guest's anthemic folk-rock songwriter at the band's core, they soon recorded and released Geniality of Mortality, simultaneously launching the band's own record label, Aufheben Records. The band continued to tour (of course) and work up a regional following. The group refined a southern-fried sound with influences like Little Feat and jam band elders Widespread Panic.
Guest soon parted ways with Simon and Chupin, though, and plotted a slightly expanded lineup of the group, now featuring funk metal bassist Jeremy Horton, jazz drummer James Edwards, and former Beat Temple keyboardist/guitarist Rick Thompson. With this group, he recorded the energetic American Trailer Home Blues, which featured live cuts of "Right Down," "Sand," and "Fly," along with seven other studio cuts.
1998's Live Stages captured the band's sound through several extended improvisations, including the heartily hippie "Intro Jam," along with a cover popularized by the Grateful Dead, "I Know You Rider." In fact, Guest's guitar, covered with envelope filter, sounds remarkably similar to Jerry Garcia's throughout the disc. The music lacks the edge of the band's studio work, though, and often sounds too polished to be interesting. The band followed the disc's release with high-profile gigs on the H.O.R.D.E. tour, shows opening for Steve Miller, and a group featuring members of the Jerry Garcia Band.
The sprawling, meandering three-disc Arkansas or Bust documented a wide array of the group's music, stretching back through several years, instrumental configurations, and improvisations. Nearly on top of this release, the band also put out the poppy U 'n' Mi EP, aimed at college radio stations. The band continues to play clubs in their native Texas. ~ Jesse Jarnow