Sound studio

Niko Moon brings his friendly and cheerful sound to Riverbend

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Niko Moon has a straightforward approach when it comes to creating music, whether he’s writing, producing or performing.

“My goal is to put out feel-good music,” he said on a Zoom call ahead of his 4:15-5:15 p.m. performance Saturday on the Budweiser Stage at the Riverbend Festival.

A happy person by nature, Moon said giving people a chance to just let go and smile for a while is especially needed right now for many reasons, and he’s happy to oblige. That’s not to say his songs are all rainbows and unicorns, because he always tries to write from an honest place, but he just sees the good in things.

His song catalog includes titles like “No Sad Songs” and “Good Time”, after all.

We’re just trying to have a good time

Even if it takes all night

Pass that bottle around the campfire

Sipping apple pie in the moonlight

“I like positivity,” he said. “I love music that feels good like Bob Marley, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett. Music that resonates with me. Plus people deal with so much stress and mental health issues.”

Mike Dougher co-booked this year’s Riverbend lineup with Nashville-based promoter Chris Cobb and said in a text that Moon gets high marks from at least one very significant fan.

“My wife told me that Niko Moon should be artist of the year! He’s been her absolute favorite for the last 6 months,” Dougher said.

Moon, 40, said he got his passion for music in general from his parents and exposure to a wide variety of styles while growing up in Douglasville, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. He was far enough from the big city to get into country music and close enough to be exposed and fall in love with hip-hop.

Saturday Riverbend Schedule

2 p.m. — Doors open

3-4 p.m. — Arrested Development — Coca Cola Stage

4-5:15 p.m. — Les Communicateurs present “That ’90s Show” — Chevrolet Stage

4:15-5:15 p.m. — Niko Moon — Budweiser Stage

5:30-6:30 p.m. — Moon Taxi — Coca Cola Stage

6:35 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. – Ensemble Rage Against the Machine with Moon Taxi and guests – Coca Cola stage

7:05 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. — Strapped on like a horse — Chevrolet Stage

7:30-9pm — Grace Potter — Budweiser Stage

9:15-10:45 p.m. — Elephant Cage — Coca-Cola Stage

One of the local heroes was Zac Brown, and Moon opened for the then-local star at a club, and the two became friends. Moon would eventually join Brown as a player and as a writing collaborator for nearly a decade, during which time Brown became a huge star. It was his college, Moon said.

“I dropped out of college my freshman year,” he said. “I didn’t like it. I wasn’t interested in it. I was doing construction by day and music by night. Hanging out with Zac was my education.”

During his enrollment, he went from hitting the road in a tour bus and playing honky-tonks in front of 100 to 200 people at Fenway Park sale in Boston for two nights in a row.

“Looking back, I was an artist in utero, and it was an amazing upbringing,” Moon said.

He said he learned how to treat fans and other musicians, but also the difference between a good song and a good song.

“I thought I knew what was great, but it was okay,” he said.

Growing up in northern Georgia, Moon said he was familiar with the Riverbend Festival and looked forward to performing there. He is a rising country music star known for his talents as an engineer, producer, writer and performer. He enjoys all aspects of the job. He said that during the pandemic he was able to hide out in his home studio and put all that talent to good use on his own album, “Good Time.”

It was something he had to do, he said, and the idea of ​​people liking it is a bonus.

Contributor Photo/Niko Moon will perform his brand of heartwarming country music at 4:15 p.m. Saturday on the Budweiser Stage.

“The fact that country music fans give me this life is amazing,” he said. “Otherwise, I’m a home guy playing music for me.”

He said he takes nothing for granted, trying to both enjoy and give back.

“It’s kind of like an athlete. Very few get the evergreen career of Jimmy Buffett that never dies. I pray for that, though,” he said.

Moon has also written songs for Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown Band, Rascal Flatts and Morgan Wallen. Moon said he likes to meet an artist he writes for to get to know them a bit.

He wants to know their likes and dislikes and their general personality. He wants to know where they’re at in their lives and what he calls their “signatures” – the little things they do with their vocals, the tonal things, the thematic things they do with their songs and just a ” general atmosphere”.

“And then you have to pretty much fade away and go invisible and harness your songwriting abilities for them and step into their world. If it’s not coming from them, authentically, it’s not going to connect. Say, for example, when I write for Zac Brown, I put on my imaginary beanie and my imaginary leather vest and I think of my five imaginary children. Those are all things that are important to him.”

Moon added, “It’s a fun little game to play.”

If someone was going to write a song for them, it’s easy to guess what they would say to them in the get to know you interview. That’s where diversity comes in. Lyrically, it has to be positive, and it has to have a certain signature sound too.

Growing up a few miles from country artists Travis Tritt and Alan Jackson, Moon said their lyrics reflected his reality, but he also felt a kinship with the dobro and steel pedal sounds in the music. He also loved the beats and drums of Atlanta hip-hop artists like Outkast.

“I felt like this is where I grew up, this is where these two worlds met. And everyone I knew did too,” he said.

“The spices I choose to add come from where I’m from, which is the Atlanta area,” he said.

Contact Barry Courter at [email protected] or 423-757-6354. Follow him on Twitter @BarryJC.