Moon Juice brings their out-of-this-world sound to Draper JamMay 08, 2023 08:38AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Members of Moon Juice, Teagan Oram on bass and Colter Barney on guitar, rock out on stage. (Photo courtesy of Jenny Mather)
Moon Juice, a band comprised of student musicians, will bring their unique jazz-pop sound to Draper Amphitheater at Draper Jam on May 12. In March, the band won the 2023 South Multi-Region Battle of the Bands which is sponsored by the Utah PTA. Other Battle of the Bands finalists will perform at Draper Jam as well.
Clark Weiler, who plays trombone in Moon Juice, encourages people to attend the free concert. “You’ll hear up and coming new musicians, new sounds,” he said.
Singer and keyboardist Blake Hullinger added, “There will be a variety of unique music. You’ll get to see a lot of bands interact with each other.”
The Utah PTA Student Leadership Commission sponsors the Battle of the Bands every year. The competition is comprised of three rounds. The first rounds were held at participating high schools followed by the Multi-Region Battle of the Bands. Three musical acts chosen from each region then proceeded to the state finals which were held on April 29. All of the musical acts are judged on their technical proficiency, musicality, performance, creativity and audience appeal.
The young members of Moon Juice study their respective instruments at Rock University in Draper. Teachers at the music school introduced some of the players to each other. “We just sort of meshed well,” Weiler said. All, except for drummer Nolan Reinbold, are sophomores at Corner Canyon High School. Reinbold is a student at Draper Park Middle School.
Bassist Teagan Oram described the band’s style as “jazzy pop.” Hullinger explained that the band’s original songs are in the jazz genre. “But when we do a cover of a pop song, we make it our own with brass,” he said.
The band first came together in the fall of 2021. Their former drummer came up with the name “Moon Juice” spontaneously when they were brainstorming names for the band.
For two years in a row, in 2022 and 2023, Moon Juice won the first round of Battle of the Bands at Corner Canyon High School. For this year’s competition, they performed a cover version of “I Lived” by One Republic along with original compositions.
Winning the South Multi-Regional Battle of the Bands was a validating experience. “It makes you feel like the work you put in has been recognized,” Hullinger said.
“We’ve gotten so many gigging opportunities since we won regionals,” Weiler added.
Each member of Moon Juice is passionate about music and took up their instruments at a young age. Oram recalled “jamming on guitar with a friend up in Idaho.” He later moved to Utah and decided to take up the bass.
Guitarist Colter Barney, whose uncle, Jared Barney, founded Rock U, said, “I got my first guitar when I was 7 and started taking lessons.”
Caden Mather started playing trumpet when he was 9 years old. “My grandpa plays trumpet so I thought it was cool,” he said.
Hullinger began playing piano at a very young age. His skills on the keyboard and vocals lead him to be cast in a touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, “School of Rock” by the composer himself.
Weiler was a reluctant trombone player at first but enjoyed it and learned to play tuba as well. “I want to be the best tuba player in the state,” he said. Weiler, Mather and Hullinger belong to Utah’s All-State Band which includes the best musicians from high school bands in the state.
While Hullinger and Mather plan to pursue careers in music, each member of the band wants to keep playing in some capacity. “Whatever I do with my life, I want to keep music in it,” Oram said.
Barney isn’t quite sure what his future might look like. “I’ll go wherever the wind takes me,” he said. “But for sure I want to keep playing.”
Caden’s mom, Jenny Mather, is proud of the boys’ accomplishments. “It’s been fun watching this band because they’ve evolved into their own artists,” she said. “Then, as teachers, the role becomes just sitting back and watching the magic.”
Draper Jam will take place on May 12 at Draper Amphitheater, 944 Vestry Road. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free. λ