Even at his home in Cleveland, Joe Moorhead can hear the sound of the ocean. It's a siren's call that stirs him to pick up his guitar and strum out a response.
The result is music that transports him -- and his audience -- to a beach party, where problems collapse into the sand.
"My wife and I spend a ton of time down in the Caribbean, and that's where I do a lot of the writing and where the vibe comes from," said Mr. Moorhead. "We say beach music is about the idea of the escape. But, really, all music is about escape in one form or another."
Mr. Moorhead, 30, and his band are escaping Cleveland this weekend for a tour that starts tonight in Greensburg and continues Friday at The Beach Club at Station Square on the South Side. It's a journey in support of their new album, "Tides Are Rising."
It's important that you be there.
"We have a lot of crowd interaction. We like to say we throw an island beach party every show," Mr. Moorhead said. "We bring beach balls, we bring leis for everybody. Getting everyone involved has been one of the keys to our success."
Mr. Moorhead grew up loving the songs of the islands, particularly the music of Bob Marley. With a side order of Jimmy Buffett.
"Yeah, I grew up with Parrotheads in the family," Mr. Moorhead said. "As far as I'm concerned, there is not a more fun concert to go to. They're always huge parties. But Bob Marley was the biggest influence. That and my time down in the islands. It kind of writes itself into the music.
"I started playing acoustic guitar just for fun and never thinking it would ever turn into anything serious. I would play at parties for friends, and they would tell me, 'Man, you've got to take this serious.' It took my sister buying me some recording time in a studio for my birthday before I focused on it. And then I fell in love with it."
Mr. Moorhead reached out to boyhood friend Jon Morrow, who studied music in North Carolina, and the two guitar players started a band. They're joined by bass player Tyler Lovell of Lancaster, Ohio, and drummer Justin Banks, a relative newcomer, from Greensburg.
"We're all good friends," Mr. Moorhead said. "It's a dysfunctional happy family."
The turning point came when he and his bandmates saw their music's effect on their audiences.
"We've had great responses from our live shows, and that's the driving force behind what we do," Mr. Moorhead said. "There's so much energy in the live show. We jam out and there's improvisation. It's its own animal in itself.
"We play a lot of colleges. But the music is well-received everywhere. There's a venue we play in Lincoln, Neb., that we have a great time playing at, and there's not an ocean anywhere around. We'll be playing in the middle of winter in Wisconsin, and people love to hear beach music. Especially when there's three feet of snow outside."
The new album was recorded in Asheville, N.C., with the help of musicians, equipment and sounds that aren't available to the band on tour. But Mr. Moorhead feels that gives the songs more personality.
"This was the first time we actually had a chance to sit in a studio and build an album the way we wanted to," he said. "So each song is its own individual, unique thing. But they still come to life on stage. And even if the audience knows the song, they're hearing it in a different way.
"It's a ton of work. But you know that old saying, 'If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.' It might take us two or three hours to set up for a three- or four-hour show, and you might think, 'I could make a lot more money doing something else, but would I be this happy?' The answer for me is absolutely not. Why do anything else when this is our dream?"
Tonight's show in Greensburg is at Lefty's in Cafe Supreme on Main Street. Doors open at 6 and the show starts at 7 p.m. There is a $5 cover.
On Friday night, you can attend the album release party at The Beach Club, Station Square, from 10 p.m. to midnight. It's a free event.
Dan Majors: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/