By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Taking an unusual path to success for a modern jazz trio, Brooklyn-based threesome Moon Hooch has gone from subway busking to viral videos to headlining major venues across the country.

Formed in 2010 when drummer James Muschler met woodwind players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen while they were attending the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, the three musicians started creating the kind of kinetic, danceable grooves that would get them noticed on NYC subway platforms.

The trio’s propulsive beats and interweaving/independent sax lines could regularly be found stirring up impromptu dance parties at the Union Square subway station. The band built of a loyal following of fans that started turning out for their local club shows and released their debut recording in partnership with independent jazz label Palmetto in 2013. More importantly, the band was invited to join tours by former Soul Coughing singer Mike Doughty and indie rock veterans They Might Be Giants.

On subsequent albums featuring their organic brand of electronic dance music, the band expanded its instrumental arsenal to introduce vocals and synthesizers. Their live setup has evolved to find Wilbur and McGowen funneling their horns into laptops where the players are able to further loop and manipulate their saxophones with software, while Muschler has incorporated more electronic triggers for samples into his mostly acoustic kit.

While the trio was just recently in town supporting Bay Area jam band favorites ALO at the Fillmore a couple of months ago, Moon Hooch returns to San Francisco with it’s own headlining show at the Great American Music Hall Friday night. The band will be playing songs from their latest effort Red Sky released last summer on the trio’s own Hornblow Recordings imprint. Michigan-based rock band Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers opens the show.

Moon Hooch
Friday, April 28, 8 p.m. $17-$19
Great American Music Hall