The Moonshine, a four-piece string band, performs at the Caledonia Lounge. The band opened for Rock Bottom String Band and Blood on the Harp for a night of foot-stomping bluegrass music which was enjoyed by a sparse but enthusiastic crowd in Athens, Georgia, on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Photo/Erin Schilling, eschilling@randb.com)

When Michael Gerard Levasseur and Rachael Levasseur met by chance in Portland, Oregon on a fire escape, they couldn’t have known that years later they’d also start a string band called The Moonshine.

But that’s exactly what happened.

The Moonshine recently moved to Athens due to Michael and Rachael's love of the city and in hopes to further their musical careers. 

Michael and Rachael said they both moved from Portland in part because the house they were renting was bought out for construction and many other places in the city were too expensive to live. Michael said he attributes this to an influx of Californians.

Michael is the songwriter, guitarist and vocalist of the band and Rachael, plays autoharp, keys, mandolin, guitar and is a vocalist as well. In fact, Rachael said she can play basically any instrument the band needs in its songs.

“On our first album, I played any weird instrument that needed to be played,” Rachael said. “You can hand it to me and I can learn to play.”

The group formed out of the actions of a previous band called Michael The Blind but officially became The Moonshine in 2012, Michael said. 

The Moonshine consists of two other members: upright bassist Rob Keller and fiddler Nicholas Lindell.

“Our current bass player [Rob Keller] used to sell me records when I was growing up in Clemson, South Carolina,” Michael said. “I never knew that years later, he would end up playing bass in our band.”

Keller was originally just a fill-in for the band since their former bass player left the band to return to school, but Rachael said he eventually became a full-time member of the band. 

As seen on The Moonshine’s website, the band has music videos set in outdoorsy, earthy settings that perfectly match its folk music. The Moonshine produces its own music videos, Michael and Rachael said, and have big plans for the next video that will come along with the band’s new album they’re currently working on.

“It’s going to be more complicated than the two of us can execute so were re-storyboarding it — making it a little more doable,” Rachael said. “We’re doing pretty much all of the work ourselves. I’m a photographer and did it for many years for music festivals in Oregon, so I’m comfortable with filming music.”

The Moonshine recently played in local venues such as Hendershot’s Coffee Bar and Caledonia Lounge, and Rachael said The Foundry is one of her favorite venues to perform at.

The band is working on a third album and plan on releasing a limited edition album coming out for the fifth anniversary of the first album it produced.

“We’re only making around 100 of them, and we changed up the packaging a little bit, so they will look different than any others,” Rachael said.

The Moonshine will perform an ages 18 and older show on the Georgia Theatre Rooftop at the end of May with bands Safari Williams, The Burning Peppermints and Blackfoot Gypsies.

“I like being anchored here [Athens], but what we really want to do it travel all over the place and have this as our home,” Michael said. “I’d like to get on the road more.”

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