The Ultimate Van Morrison Tribute Band at The Linda

On December 1st, the attendees entering The Linda, WAMC’s performing arts studio, were a crowd of Van Morrrison fans, some of whom may have seen him live at Woodstock 54 years ago. On stage were a Hammond XK-1 organ, a Yamaha electric piano, tenor and alto saxes, a drum kit, a Fender bass and Telecaster, and a Vox Mark VI guitar, all awaiting the hands of Moondance, a Van Morrison cover band promoted as The Ultimate Van Morrison Tribute Band. They did not disappoint. The show featured Ed Moran portraying Van Morrison, accompanied by Joseph Torra on keyboards, Dana Welts on guitar, Vinnie Brandi on drums, Dan Broad on bass guitar, and Aaron Dean on saxophone.

Photo by John Norris

The funky crowd, a mix of “with-it” seniors, included men in soft plaid shirts paired with jeans and women donning long black Joni Mitchell dresses or black turtlenecks. They resembled long-time WAMC members, possibly still keeping their “Mario & Me” CDs in their gloveboxes.

The house lights dimmed at 8 p.m., and as the Eagles’ background music faded, Moran opened with a few acapella bars before delving into “I’m in Heaven,” eliciting an approving hum from the crowd. Moondance segued smoothly into “Days Like This” as the fans bobbed their heads in rhythm.

Photo by John Norris

Following was the syncopated toe-tapper, “And It Stoned Me,” highlighting a clean lead guitar that seamlessly flowed into “Come Running.” Surprisingly, their eponymous version of “Moondance” arrived earlier in the set, with Joseph Torra’s skillful play on the Hammond XK-1 prompting folks to start dancing in the open area near the bar, to which the band responded positively.

The band then rocked out on “Wavelength,” with the crowd clapping to the backbeat as the band jammed. Amidst enthusiastic applause, a lone sax opened a rendition of “Tupelo Honey,” transitioning between sax, electric piano, and Telecaster, showcasing the band members’ skills as they exchanged nods on stage.

Photo by John Norris

After the band took a fifteen-minute intermission, Moondance launched straight into “Turn Up Your Radio,” delivering a performance that rivaled Van Morrison himself at The Last Waltz in 1976. The placement of “Into the Mystic” in the second set made sense as it required warmed-up vocals. Following were “Back On Top” (fast and bluesy), “What’s My Line” (driving, mid-tempo beat), and the beloved “Georgia on My Mind.” The audience demonstrated their familiarity with the lyrics of this Ray Charles gem by swaying and singing along. The organ part resembled a Hammond B3 without the Leslies, a sound universally appreciated whether recognized or not.

Photo by John Norris

“Wild Night” wrapped up the second set. Without bidding farewell, the band exited through a side door. After a standing ovation, the band returned to their positions. Dean, the sax player, joked, “I guess you want some more?” The encore was “Gloria.” With no saxophone part, Dean delightedly danced on stage while energetically playing the cowbell (and who doesn’t agree we need more cowbell?). Midway through, he descended from the stage, dancing with a few couples before darting through the aisles and back to the stage, engaging in an “air guitar” performance alongside the band as they displayed their skills in a free-form jam that briefly included a snippet of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” It seamlessly fit in and lasted about four seconds—a testament to great musicians showcasing their talents.

Photo by John Norris

Moondance is a band that delivers a show as comfortable as an old pair of slippers yet as entertaining as (you finish the simile appropriately). The next time they’re within a reasonable drive of your location, do yourself a favor and attend.

  1. Rudy says

    Loved your description of the audience. Wonder how many have had NPR moments in the driveway.

  2. Roseanna says

    Really enjoyed this article!

    I’ve seen this band through the years, but haven’t gone in awhile. They are back on my radar as Moondance always left me feeling I had an unforgettable musical experience. The review seems to capture the essence of their brilliance, reigniting my anticipation to witness their unparalleled talent once again.

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