Davy Mooney and the Ghosts


Davy Mooney and the Ghosts is the new singer-songwriter project from world-renowned jazz guitarist Davy Mooney.  Mooney has been leading a double life for his entire musical career: he is well known on the international jazz scene as a melodic and harmonically sophisticated guitarist, but for the past 15 years he has been performing solo in coffee houses and small bars singing his bittersweet, nostalgic songs to old folkies and young indie-rockers.

Although some of the songs go back 10 years or more, Mooney hadn't gotten around to recording them until this past year. The CD is "Ghosts of Music, Past", and the band Mooney has put together to perform the music is called, fittingly, the Ghosts. Why the supernatural theme? Because Mooney has been haunted by these songs for years; they come from the past and are rife with regrets and shadowy memories. The record is stylistically diverse, but many of the songs deal with relationships, doubts, and complex, mixed emotions. The Ghosts are a band of virtuoso musicians that bring depth and musicality to Mooney's tunes. Listen and be transported!

How do you describe your music to people?
My singer-songwriter music is inspired by Sting, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, and many others, but I don't think I sound that much like any of them.  The presentation of my music is fairly sparse, and I tend toward lyrical complexity, or at least verbosity!  I love Bob Dylan and Stephen Sondheim. 

My music is folky and jazzy and full of vocal harmonies and harmonic twists and turns. 

I need to come up with a snappier description of it, to be honest, but it's constantly evolving, so that's difficult!

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
My uncles all played music: two of them played guitar and sang Beatles songs all the time, and the third was an aspiring jazz pianist.  I also grew up back when MTV used to play music videos, and I was inspired by all of it, from glam rock in the late 80s through Nirvana and the early 90s grunge scene.  You may not hear that influence in my music, but all those bands inspired me to be a professional songwriter and musician. 
Later on I got heavily into jazz, and I was fortunate enough to be able to study jazz at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (an arts high school) with the late Clyde Kerr, Jr.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
With or without my clothes on?

Just kidding. 

I'd have to say relaxing after a hard day with an ice cold dirty Stoli martini.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The skills required to make the music good and the skills required to sell the music and the musician (me) in the marketplace often seem mutually exclusive.  I'm constantly slacking on one side or the other. 

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A musician.  I can't remember anything before that.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I'm from New Orleans, and that's a huge part of who I am as a musician and an artist.  I didn't realize how much until I left there and settled in New York after Katrina.  I heard one person describe New Orleans as the only American city where the maximization of efficiency and profit are not the two most important civic virtues, and for better and for worse that's where I'm coming from. 

On the musical side, I learned how to play for people in New Orleans; the audience there loves to listen to music, and they're ready to enjoy themselves and get into what you're doing if you let them.  Even if what you're playing is not booty-shaking music, although that makes it a bit easier.  I still try to play for the audience, whether it's jazz or the singer-songwriter thing. 

What other artists out there do you love?
Famous artists: Stephen Sondheim, Sting, Chico Buarque, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Brian Blade, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Liz Phair, Kate Bush, Ruben Blades, Jobim

Not so famous artists: Mike West, Myshkin, Snarky Puppy, John Ellis, Sarah Renfro, Steve Masakowski

What does your future hold?
More of the same.  Life in the trenches as a musician is what I signed up for.  It would be nice to make some real money doing this, but that was never what I expected when I got into this business. 

I hope to make at least one truly great record before I descend into senility and decrepitude.
Other than that, I'll just keep on keeping on.