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Moe. happy to be back in Turin for moe.down

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TURIN — After a two-year hiatus, moe.down has come back to its roots.

The band moe. is welcoming its fans and other musicians for the 13th annual moe.down at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Besides being back on familiar ground, moe.down returns with a new sense of what makes a moe.down a moe.down: sort of a rural hoedown with rock, folk and other musical styles such as reggae thrown into the mix.

“We tried to recapture the spirit of what we intended to do with moe.down in the first place,” moe. member Al Schnier said in a phone interview Friday. “Which was to host the event with our fans and friends from around the country who would get together for a family reunion/camping picnic of sorts. It’s just a big hangout weekend.”

Many of the approximately dozen bands moe. invited to the festival are associates of the five-member band, which formed in Buffalo in 1990. Over the years, it has become one of the best-known groups in the jam-band movement, which emphasizes musical improvisation. It’s also well-known for its roots-rock style.

“It’ll be good to be back in Turin,” said Mr. Schnier, a Utica native.

For the past two years, moe.down was held at Gelston Castle Estate in Mohawk, Herkimer County.

“We’ve always held this area near and dear to our hearts,” Mr. Schnier said.

He added that the ski resort has proven to be camper-friendly — a key part of moe.down.

The music festival breaks with tradition this year in that it’s not being held on Labor Day weekend.

“So many people are in transition on Labor Day,” Mr. Schnier said. “We were finding a lot of people couldn’t come. We decided to pull it back a few weeks and make it a true summer event.”

The September festival also had years when it struggled with the weather.

“More often than not, there’s been a hurricane that’s come up the coast and we’ve been plagued with rain,” Mr. Schnier said. “It’s had a bearing on ticket sales. The Adirondacks can be really tricky that time of year. It has snowed on moe.down before.”

Besides bands familiar with moe., such as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Umphrey’s McGee, Galactic and SOJA, moe. will introduce new bands to the festival this year, including Bright Light Social Hour, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Infantree and Leroy Justice.

Mr. Schnier said members of other bands also expressed satisfaction that moe.down is back in Turin.

“Everybody has been receptive to that,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a single person who is disappointed with the move back.”

‘La las’ land

Moe. will perform six sets at the festival. It will share cuts from its new album, “What Happened to the La Las,” released in January. The band went a different route with the album, partnering with a label — Sugar Hill Records — instead of independently producing it. It was moe.’s first partnership with a label and an outside producer in more than a decade.

“Both of those things were great because it allowed us to focus more on making a record and less on running a record label and manufacturing it,” Mr. Schnier said. “We could focus our efforts more on being musicians.”

The process of putting down tracks on “What Happened to the Las Las,” was different than past albums, Mr. Schnier said.

“Often, our method has been to write a song, take it out on the road and put it through its paces and then go to the studio and work a version of it,” he said. “This time, we kind of did the same thing, except when we got to the studio, our producer (John Travis) would say, ‘Wait a minute. That doesn’t work. You need to do something different here.’”

The band would then work on those ideas.

“It was really a great learning process; almost like our songs went to boot camp,” Mr. Schnier said.

Critical reception for “What Happened to the Las Las” has been favorable.

“We’ve gotten more radio airplay out of this than we’ve ever gotten before,” Mr. Schnier said. “It’s an interesting time for the music industry. With things like Pandora, Spotify and people sharing digital files, record sales aren’t what they used to be. It’s hard to quantify how something is doing. But the critical acclaims have been great.”

catering to fans

Mr. Schnier said moe. has always listened to its fans, and that will determine the future location of moe.down.

“Nothing is set in stone,” he said. “This is our event so we have the luxury of moving it if we like to. And we are listening to what our fans are saying.”

The band will keep listening to those fans as it has for the past two decades and its members have no plans of hanging up their instruments.

“We’re not as resilient as we used to be. That sort of stuff comes with the territory. We deal with stuff like carpal tunnel syndrome and all the aches and pains that come with becoming fat old men,” Mr. Schnier said, laughing.

“Other than that, everybody’s spirits are really good and we’re happy to be together and happy to still be able to be doing this after 20 years.”

the details
WHAT: moe.down 13
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort, 4173 West Road, Turin. The first act is at 4 p.m. Friday and the last is at 8 p.m. Sunday.
COST: $145. Sunday-only tickets are $60.
MORE INFO: http://www.moedown.com/
HOW TO GET THERE: From Watertown’s outer State Street, take Route 12 to Lowville, then take Route 26 south to Turin.
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