May 05, 2018
How does one create a sound like Roma di Luna’s? I know you can’t set out to make music so singular: with tinges of chamber pop, indie rock, and even Johnny Cash. Plus enough reverb to make aliens feel terrestrial. So I suppose the only answer is evolution.
Evolve they have. From the farmer’s market duo of once-married couple Alexei and Channy Moon Casselle to a full band to broken-up and back, Roma di Luna have gone through so many phases that only long-timers recall them all. But judging by last night’s show at the Cedar Cultural Center, their current chapter is one to savor.
This phase is about family: both found and hereditary. That’s why the night began with a set by DoubleDragon, a new band featuring Alexei and Channy’s nine-year-old daughter, Pela Leaneagh. She and her dad performed five songs, including covers of “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Hallelujah,” plus original songs “Who Was I Born To Be” and “Sun Come Out,” and a hilarious birthday rap (featuring Andrew Broder and his toddler on guitar and drums, respectively) for Pela’s grandma. Alexei and his daughter crouched side-by-side, listing reasons they loved her: “One: You’re cool! Two: You don’t drool!”
That’s why Roma di Luna’s performance felt so natural, even though they’ve only performed a few times in the last year or so since reuniting. Drummer Ryan Lovan, bassist James Everest, vocalist Jessie Daley, and guitarist Ben Durrant stood with Leaneagh and Casselle and resurrected music from all three of their late-‘00s albums. “This is supposed to be a record release,” Leaneagh noted, so they added in several songs from We Were Made To Forgive, most notably “Estate Fair” and “The Wire.” Like many families, they even bickered for a moment of two; Leaneagh announced a coin toss would decide which of two songs they'd perform, because their drummer — Ryan Lovan — “hates both of them.”
That family vibe is why it felt so empowering when the matriarchs stood front and center. Channy is a mother of two: Pela and Schwa, her son with current husband Ryan Olson. Jessie Daley is also raising kids with her husband, Sean (aka Slug of Atmosphere). Representing so much Minnesota music history and potential, the women took the stage together at the top of the show.
This is what the house parties look like now. I’m not saying each adult in Roma di Luna or their era of Minnesota music has lost interest in going out. But I’d guess there’s a lot less partying and a lot more family hangouts, barbecues, and sing-alongs than there were circa-Find Your Way Home. I appreciated last night's glimpse into their living rooms.