Arriving at a perennial street corner while signaling a caution to the wind, August Moonshine blends symphonic soundscapes and masterly woven lyrics into an exceptional debut effort. “I make music that I feel in my bones,” explains a seemingly shy but assertive Rich Mikolitch. “The stuff that my parents brought me up on, regardless of the genre, had passion…and I think that’s the most important component of any style of music. If nothing else, I think people can at least hear the passion I have for my music.” It’s with that same determination and borderline obsessive behavior that Rich wrote, played all instruments, engineered, produced, and mixed his first E.P., August Moonshine. Recorded at his home in Topanga, CA in 2007, August Moonshine challenges the listener musically and lyrically. From the opening progression of Angels In May to the final breath in Running Away, it’s a snapshot of a burgeoning songwriter whose journey is just beginning.
As with anyone, the road from yesterday to today is rarely an easy one, and Rich’s was no exception. Being raised a couple miles down the road from Newark, NJ, he’ll be the first to tell you that he spent a few nights sleeping out in the cold. Throughout those years, he developed quite a thick skin and eventually found the strength to chase down his dream. “When Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy of Wilco) says in War on War, ‘You’ve gotta die if you wanna be alive,’ that really struck a chord with me. You really have to be willing to strike out and lose everything to achieve your goals…and that journey is what shapes you into the person you become.”
The roots of Rich’s passion for music began taking hold at an early age. “I had been playing lead guitar since I was a young teenager, like 13 or 14,” he explains. “So when I came to L.A. a couple years ago, that’s what I was looking to do.” However, the music scene was much different than what Rich had expected and not everything went as planned. “Really, nobody was playing anything that I wanted to get involved in. I grew up studying guys like Clapton, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and Dicky Betts, Marc Ford…you know, great, great guitar players. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem that many people were interested in that style of playing.” Stuck at a crossroad, Rich had to make a decision. “I remember thinking, I can either sit around playing guitar for nobody, or I can start to hone and refine the songs that I had written and do it all by myself. I figured, I didn’t know any of the rules, so in my eyes, there were no rules to break.” The result is a strikingly refreshing collection of songs that can only be described as, “…organic. I think that’s the best word to describe the album. It’s all just me in a room with a couple mics, a few guitars, a keyboard, my notebooks, and a bottle of wine…just hoping that the recording sounded OK.” With elements of folk, rock, blues, and country along with his unique, original approach to songwriting, August Moonshine is only one portrait of an artist who isn’t content to pigeonhole himself.
Having that vision and attitude paid off in 2007 when Touchstone Music and ABC contacted Rich and expressed an interest in licensing his music for their upcoming season of TV shows. “I’m not really sure what it’s going to be in yet, but it’s a great opportunity to promote the music and it gives me the sort of exposure you can only dream of. It’s just another way to get the music out there to people who might want to listen.”