“We initially formed out of the collaboration of song writing between guitarist Mark Miller and myself, as members of the San Diego Songwriters Meet Up Group,” explained mandolin player Randy Hanson.
The band name is a combination of Mohavi (“moh-hah-vee sohl”) and Soul. “Mohavi is not misspelled but instead is the correct Native American spelling for Mojave. So this name reflects our soulful connection to the American southwestern deserts and pays homage to the high and lonesome nature of the desert combined with the boy’s ability to restore your soul with their music,” Hanson continued.
He considers the band to have a slightly different edge than other area bluegrass combos. “While we play with a traditional line up of bluegrass instruments, we blend this sound with high harmonies that push our Americana storytelling,” he said. “Our songs go beyond traditional bluegrass in our arrangements that are also filled with bluegrass, jazz, blues, and country instrumental riffs. Some call it Contemporary or Progressive Bluegrass a la Sam Bush but we just know it’s our original ‘MohaviSoul’ sound.”
Hanson got his start playing the mandolin as a teenager of 18. “I started late playing the instrument when I was off attending college in rural New Mexico. I started learning on my grandfathers old roundback which I had found stashed in my parent’s garage, but soon graduated to a more modern Florentine A mandolin when we started a band with my college mates. That band would go on to be a popular New Mexico mainstay.
“I started performing music soon after I started learning to play,” Hanson recalled. “We had formed the legendary New Mexico’s own Vigilante Band and gave our first surprise performance at the Ore House at New Mexico Tech during the infamous annual 49’ers celebration. People loved our music and we knew we were off and running.” Incredibly, the band is still going, though long since without Hanson. “They are still playing together, and will conclude their 40-year run of raucous musical history next year at the historical Capitol Bar in Socorro, NM,” he said.
MohaviSoul has thus far released two EPs, Every Second and Blue Diesel. “Unlike many bands, we started recording right away,” Hanson stated. “After releasing both in the first year, we’ve waited and worked on our sound, new songs, and arrangements and are now ready to head back into the studio and put together our first full length CD.” Blue Diesel has been the most successful with over 9,300 spins in October alone.
Hanson acknowledges that the music biz is tougher than ever, but he’s having fun. “Yes, every aspect of the music business is tough, but I come from a musical family and learned a lot about the business from my mom and dad,” he said. “I know I’ve got to get MohaviSoul’s sound out there live, and on the radio, and in your car cruising down the street. While in some ways we are the best kept secret in the San Diego music scene, we continue to grow nationally and internationally. MohaviSoul is the best set of musicians and songwriters I’ve ever had the good fortune to share a tune with, and that keeps me going, so stay tuned,” he said. “Overall we’re taking the band to the regional and ultimately national level within the next few years.”