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‘Time heals’ for Roma di Luna, who’ve scheduled first show in nearly six years

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by Cecilia Johnson

January 28, 2017

These days, it's most common to hear Channy Leaneagh's voice alongside turbulent production and crashing drums. As a key instrument of Poliça — her band with Chris Bierden (bass), Ben Ivascu (drums), Drew Christopherson (drums), and Ryan Olson (studio production) — her words slur through reverb and mingle with synths and basslines.

But once, Leaneagh sang for Roma di Luna, the roots band she co-fronted with her then-husband Alexei Moon Casselle (a.k.a. Crescent Moon of rap group Kill the Vultures). From the time they started busking at the farmer's market in 2004 until the end of their years-long partnership, Leaneagh sounded pristine on folk songs, her immaculate voice clearly heard over guitars, banjos, and eventually, even saxophones.

However, the band (comprising seven people at the end of their tenure) couldn't last forever. They released several full-length albums: Find Your Way Home (2007), Casting the Bones (2008), and Then The Morning Came (2010), plus one called Christmas (2010). In 2011, they announced their split (which also extended to Leaneagh and Casselle's marriage). They ended up cancelling both of the farewell shows they'd scheduled at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Over five years later, Roma di Luna will play the Cedar after all, reuniting on April 7. Why get back together now? Leaneagh explains, "It actually came about when my grandmother died a month ago. I was asked to sing at her funeral, and I was listening to old Roma di Luna songs." Meanwhile, she'd been trying to pull together a Standing Rock benefit, and while Poliça already had a Feb. 11 show planned for First Avenue, the whole of Roma di Luna felt up to the task. "It's also time," Leaneagh shares, sounding steady. "We had enough time to be away from it that now, it feels good to be playing those songs again."

No one — not least the band's members — knew if Roma di Luna would ever play the same stage again. But here, the circumstances outweighed their differences. Their reunion show will benefit Honor the Earth, a Native American-led non-profit with campaigns against oil pipelines, fracking, exploitative coal mining, and sexual violence.

Leaneagh says, "Time heals and makes things clear as to what you should do."

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.