It’s 1967—the “Summer of Love”—and strange sounds are coming from a Mount Vernon, Wash., garage. Inside, several high school friends are learning to play rock ‘n roll music. They work hard and enjoy local success, playing at high school dances, pizza parlors, and other venues. After graduation, this band of friends goes in many directions, but all eventually return to Skagit County. They’re still good friends today, and they still enjoy playing great music. That’s how Johnny & The Moondogs came about.
A Lifetime Of Music
John Savage, leader of Johnny & The Moondogs, has devoted his life to music, as a student, teacher and accomplished performer. John’s musical knowledge and talent run very deep. He is an excellent vocalist and expert on keyboards, guitar and bass. He teaches music at Skagit Valley College, offers private lessons, and performs professionally—in several popular dance and jazz bands, and in community theater productions as well. John’s outgoing personality, great sense of humor, and gigging experience serve him well as master-of-ceremonies and band leader.
“Johnny & The Moondogs is about a bunch of old friends who like to play classic blues music,” Savage explains. “We grew up listening to the ‘British Invasion’ and loved this music, but we are more inspired by the American blues music that actually fueled the ‘invasion.’”
Johnny & the Moondogs offer a diverse range of classic blues and blues/rock made famous by legends such as Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Wilson Pickett, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Willie Dixon, Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells, Louis Jordan, Albert King, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. It’s an engaging lineup that appeals to most audiences.
Johnny’s band includes high school pals and former band-mates Kim Westenhaver (bass, backup vocals) and Ken Morrison (drums); and standout former student and “young guy,” Jeff Stady (guitar, backup vocals). The Moondogs all have “real” jobs, but music remains a serious hobby. “We all wanted to continue playing this great music, mainly for our own fun and recreation,” Morrison says. “But, as it’s turned out, we’ve been coaxed to perform at parties, dances, and public events, which has added a lot of fulfillment to the fun.”
John and the band continue to work on new songs and arrangements to add to their repertoire. This, plus the dynamic, improvisational nature of the blues, keeps things interesting for Johnny & The Moondogs.