Published on Chico Beat (http://chicobeat.com/)
Music Preview: Pure as a Tennessee Creek
by Ron Angle
Mossy Creek, Tenn. may not be a household name in Chico, but the Bluegrass band that
it has inspired is becoming well known on both the regional and national levels.
If you haven't yet heard this homegrown group with deep Chico roots, your next
opportunity will be Friday night, Aug. 3 as Mossy Creek performs as the feature band
for the DCBA Friday Night Concert in the Park.
Mossy Creek got its start about five years ago as a spin-off from another local band,
Magic. Local musicians Pat Haley and Dean Mott ventured into Bluegrass after Pat
bought a banjo in 2003. During a jam session, Pat's daughter, Erin Haley, was invited to
join in. Together, they created a sound as pure as the mountain water of the real Mossy
Creek and the foundation for a very talented music group.
The current configuration of Mossy Creek includes Kim Gimbal, Christine Hogan, Matt
Christensen and Bob Littell.
In 2006, Mossy Creek was chosen as best local country/bluegrass band in the inaugural
Chico Area Music Awards. In October 2006, the band was invited to perform at an
after-hours showcase at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards show in
Nashville. They were one of only four California groups selected for the honor.
If the name Haley sounds familiar, it is because the Haley family is probably better
known for its association with Haley's Martial Arts Center. Pat Haley came to Chico in
the mid-70s to enroll at Chico State. He received a B.A. in Physical Education and a
teaching credential in 1976. He, and his wife, Bitz, are the parents of Erin, Rob, Tim and
Pat has trained internationally in Karate and other martial arts forms and is a 7th Degree
Black Belt. His community service contributions earned him the honor of the 2000
Citizen of the Year awarded by the Chico Chamber of Commerce.
As a musician, Pat Haley plays guitar, banjo and dobro. Erin Haley, whose high, clear
voice is natural for Bluegrass, is the group's lead vocalist. Bitz Haley, who met Pat in
1977 and married him a year later, helps keep the group in synch behind the stage.
Erin, also a Chico State graduate, studied voice in New York after high school but found
her vocal future clouded after a throat injury nearly took her voice. After years of slow
recuperation, she turned to acupuncture and had a successful recovery. At Chico State,
she majored in psychology and minored in music. This fall, she will begin study at The
College of the Pacific in Stockton for a graduate degree in music therapy.
The group's namesake song, "Mossy Creek," was written by Pat Haley, who does much
of the writing and arranging for the group. Bitz Haley grew up in the original Mossy
Creek, Tenn. (now know as Jefferson City) and it was the hometown of her mother,
"Honey" Blanc. The song is about Bitz leaving her small hometown and venturing into the
world while longing for her East Tennessee roots.
Mossy Creek CDs are available on the group's web site, http://www.mossycreek.org/
, at the martial arts studio, and at Diamond W Western Wear. The group is currently
recording a new CD at Humboldt Studios. The web site also features goodies such as
bottles of "Authentic Mossy Creek Water".
On Nov. 4, Mossy Creek will get its biggest local venue yet as it opens for the renowned
Bluegrass band, Cherryholmes, at Laxson Auditorium.
Erin Haley and Cia Cherryholmes, Bluegrassin' in the Foothills, 2006
"Mossy Creek has been one of the most exciting surprises to come from the Brookdale
Bluegrass concert/festivals yet. Pat Haley was first noticed by Frank Sullivan at one of
the jams in the lobby of the hotel, and it was remarked, 'if you keep this up, you'll end up
on stage here!'
After Sid Lewis called to tell me about this fantastic new band from Chico, I had to see
them at the Brookdale as a tweener, and yes indeed they were fantastic! Incredible tight
bluegrass, with beautiful vocal harmony's between his daughter and himself. I love it
when families play bluegrass, it's a sound you can't get any other way.
The next time they played they took Saturday night to the limit, and just blew everyone
away. They are real crowd pleaser, and I look forward to seeing them play at all the
festivals in the future."
"Mossy Creek--for me they just stole the show--OUTSTANDING...DON'T MISS
THEM...very impressive music and great singing..."
--Posting on the California Bluegrass Association Website
"Great vocals and a really tight band. Enjoyed hearing you play...I thought I was hearing
a CD and was very surprised when it was Mossy Creek playing live. That's a biggie to
someone who listens to Bluegrass on the radio and hears live music constantly. Keep
that tight sound...see you back in Tennessee..." - Kay Cadillac WDVX Ambassador
"...featuring some of Chico's finest pickers, Mossy Creek is on the verge of becoming
Chico's next musical 'big deal'."
--Sierra Nevada Big Room Review
"...Mossy Creek, the brand new band from the Chico area, was a revelation—the show
stoppers of the weekend, without doubt..."
--Rick Cornish, CBA Website, regarding Woodland Veteran's Day Festival
"...I so thoroughly enjoyed MOSSY CREEK!
What a fun talented band and Erin sure has some pipes and can sing her heart out...I just
was delighted with BOTH of their sets...and by the way, there was no token encore for
them...it was the REAL THING....and folks were applauding and insisting on an encore
performance...take note festival planners...this is a good band! THANKS!"
--Regina Bartlett, CBA Website Posting
"Christmas With Mossy Creek," Mossy Creek. "California bluegrass band Mossy
Creek...its album is a sweet and casual treat"
--Wayne Bledsoe, Knoxville News Sentinel Christmas CD Review
From the CBA Website: Mossy Creek
Reviewed by: B Hough, 12/2/2005
Mossy Creek has only been a band since July 2003, but they've already won first place
in the Emerging Artists Competition at the Bluegrassin' in the Foothills Festival in
Plymouth, California. Such musical talent doesn't come overnight, and the band members
have been involved with music for most of their lives. Pat Haley and Dean Mott have
been in a rock and roll band in Chico for years, but the acquisition of a banjo and
resonator guitar started the pair thinking about starting a bluegrass band. Their buddy
Kim Gimbal had started learning mandolin, and with half the band assembled, they
started looking more musicians. Pat didn't have to search very hard. His daughter Erin
has one of those voices that can grab a song and shake it, and her voice training and
theatrical work have made her the star show-stopper in the group. Bassist Lancer Hardy
adds the rhythmic foundation to the group and former state fiddle champion Christine
Hogan adds the icing to this very special dessert of a band.
The album ends with a song that showcases the group's marvelous harmonies: "Fishers of
Men." Erin, Kim, Pat and Dean blend in a sound that would shake the wooden rafters of
any country church. It's too bad this is the only gospel song on the album since their
sound is so top-notch. But these balladeers have cast their nets far and wide for some
great songs. They revive two Ian and Sylvia songs (Someday Soon and You Were On
My Mind) with Erin singing lead and the band puts a strong bluegrass twist to the tunes
with some blended fiddle, banjo and dobro leads. Christine's fiddle sets a fast pace with
"Orange Blossom Special" and "Blackberry Blossom." "Mossy Creek" must be at the
base of "Rocky Top" - the song is a bright, bouncy travel ad for the pleasures of a
country homeland in Tennessee. With a win in the band competition and a showcase
spot at the IBMA, this band is set to "go places!"
Read Brenda Hough's Review of Knee Deep in Mossy Creek