Howling for you: A conversation in rock 'n' roll with The Moondogs' Nicholas Capozzolo

 The Moondogs.  (Courtesy Photo)

The Moondogs. (Courtesy Photo)

After a post-college detour through grunge and hard rock, bassist Nicholas Capozzolo is once again exploring more personal terrain with his band The Moondogs.

The Nazareth-based quintet has found their footing by putting an emphasis on vocal harmonies and groove-oriented licks -- harkening back to Capozzolo's days cutting his teeth on Beatles tunes and deep classic rock cuts. 

"That was the most fun I ever had in regard to playing covers. I kind of wanted to back to that on a more mature scale than a college band," Capozzolo said earlier this week during a phone interview. "The makeup of the band, I wanted it very much to like The Band."

Following a four-year stint with hard rock outfit The Big Empty, Capozzolo found himself itching to get back to his roots of harmony-driven rock 'n' roll. Initially formed as a trio, The Moondogs began scratching at the back door of the Pocono club circuit in early 2015.

Percussionist Baba Keino Anderson and saxophonist Michael G. Williams were soon brought into the mix by drummer Ruben Ariola -- further diversifying an already eclectic musical palette.

A little more than a year and two guitarist changes later, veteran axeman and singer Chuck Schubert came into the fold as the band started expanding their footprint into the Lehigh Valley. "Ruben seems to have a Swiss Army knife of musicians he knows," Capozzolo joked. "At this point, (the band) was more in line with what I had (originally) envisioned."

In the winter of 2016, The Moondogs released a three-song EP. Lead guitarist-vocalist Shane Reimer -- formerly of soul-rock duo Public Displays of Rejection -- was added to the lineup, adding even more vocal and guitar firepower to the Moondogs' potent arsenal.

"We could be playing a Frankie Valli song, but it'll have the feel of an Earth, Wind & Fire song," Capozzolo said. "In the time I have been doing this band, the biggest compliment I've heard is, 'It's so cool to see all these singers and everyone has their different niche.' I'll be singing a folk-rock song and two songs later, we're doing Al Green."

He later added, "One thing that's neat, obviously there's a musical diversity, but there is a diverse group of guys in stage. I think that's very important with everything that's going on right now."

Capozzolo then pointed out the amount of opportunities available to musicians throughout the greater Lehigh Valley. "You have bars like the Funhouse and the Lynville Hotel, which is another bar that was instrumental in getting us up and running and gave us a chance when we had 30 Facebook followers. Places like that are huge for a new band," he said. "This area is on a huge upswing and some very good potential, with the bar ownership, to be a music town."

Catch The Moondogs on Saturday during Tolino Vineyards' Fall Music Fest & Fundraiser at the Washington Township, Northampton County winery. The event is scheduled for noon to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the gate.

The band will also be performing Oct. 6 during Oktoberfest at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.