Midnight Moxie was formed in the summer of 2009 by sisters Meg and Nia O’Reilly Amandes, and longtime friend Sarah Chang.
In August of 2009, Midnight Moxie played alongside such Chicago greats as Jon Spiegel, Pete Special, Miki Greenberg, Paul Amandes, and The Crooked Mouth String Band, as part of the first annual Roots Underground Fest. It was MM’s first show.
“It sure was a thrill to step into the Chicago scene alongside musicians who’ve been influencing us since we were little,” says Meg. “The response was generous and encouraging.”
Meg, Nia and Sarah, who all grew up in Chicago, are no strangers to the city’s music scene. Sarah’s mother is a concert pianist and the artistic director of the Rush Hour Concert Series at St. James Cathedral downtown. Meg and Nia come from a massive family of musicians and artists that perform in and around the city.
“Our parents were in an Irish band when we were little, and our aunts and uncles played in a sort of vaudevillian punk group that was well-known around here,” says Nia, referring to the groups Jamie O’Reilly & The Rogues, and Maestro Subgum and the Whole, who played at clubs and pubs around Chicago, mostly in the ’80s and ’90s. “I always think it’s funny now when I get carded at the same clubs I went to with my family as a kid.”
After growing up in Chicago, each of the members of Midnight Moxie left their hometown for a taste of something different. For college, Meg went to Santa Cruz, Nia went to Los Angeles, and Sarah, who had already spent her high school years in Massachusetts, headed to New York City.
“I think it’s important to leave the place you’re from,” says Nia, who graduated from Occidental College in California. “I knew when I was eighteen that I wanted to live in Chicago, but I didn’t want to feel like I had to. So many people feel trapped in their hometowns; I’ve never felt trapped in Chicago. I love L.A., but after four years there, I was ready to come back.”
In May of 2009, Sarah and Nia graduated and moved back to Chicago, where Meg had already been living for a year and a half. A few weeks later, Midnight Moxie was born.
The band had been a long time coming. Meg and Nia had previously played together in a duo called the Go Away Girls. Nia and Sarah had spent years harmonizing in the car, and finally performed a few cover songs at the Evanston S.P.A.C.E. at their graduation party in June of ’09. After that show, the girls agreed: “No covers for these lovers.” They started to write.
So, how do they describe their music? “I’d say my songwriting style is more influenced by blues and classic rock than Nia’s,” says Meg, the older of the two sisters. “She writes the sweet songs, while mine are more witty and gritty.” Nia, who admits to being a terrible describer of bands, says, “It’s a shoop-shoopy kind of rock. Lots of ’60s-inspired vocal arrangements with a modern edge.” One thing’s for sure: the band does not want to be described as ‘girl rock.’ “That is not a genre of music,” says Nia. “We’re girls, and proud of it, but we play rock and roll.”
Photos by: C.B. Lindsey
Meg O’Reilly Amandes – guitar, bass, vocals
Sarah Chang – bass, keys, guitar, vocals
Nia O’Reilly Amandes – drums, keys, guitar, vocals
Genre: Doo-Wop, Rock & Roll
C.B. Lindsey: http://cblindsey.com