Founded in 2010 in Dunn by Charlie Smith and Corey Bax, Campfires and Constellations expanded and evolved over Smith and Bax’s first couple of years at UNC. The group added Ernest Thompson, Daniel Perry and Stephen Mooneyhan — all members of the class of 2014 — and have been writing and performing as a quintet for more than three years.
Though the name originally belonged to one of Bax’s side projects, the band decided to adopt the title permanently when they started to forge a name for themselves in Chapel Hill.
Smith, Mooneyhan and company are taking their outlaw country family to Local 506 tonight with new music in tow. Campfires and Constellations teamed up with Carrboro’s Silver Dollar Switchblade on a split 7-inch vinyl that the groups are debuting tonight with help from Charlotte band, Amigo.
Smith said his band is always excited to perform their music locally.
“Chapel Hill has a great music scene in general,” Smith said.
“We have a whole lot of places to play. Chapel Hill has about the most vibrant music scene in the state, I would imagine.”
Crediting country music innovator Gram Parsons for the expression, Smith described Campfires and Constellations as “cosmic American music” and said his band’s sound shirks the constraints of traditionally defined and commercially popular country music.
Mooneyhan, the band’s drummer, said their diverse musical influences contribute to their eclectic sound. Mooneyhan, who is also the talent buyer and general manager at Local 506, plays in a metal band with Bax and has been involved in numerous musical projects in his career.
He said though Campfires and Constellations was conceived as a couple of guitarists, the group has become much more musically and personally.
“What makes this special is it’s so fun,” Mooneyhan said. “We’ve been doing it for years — we all stuck around after college. I don’t know if any of us used our degrees.”
Silver Dollar Switchblade’s own Charlie Mewshaw doubles as the owner and founder of Old Grey Cat Records, where both bands are signed.
Though he hasn’t known the musicians in Campfires and Constellations long, he was quickly attracted to both the group’s artistic prowess and their personalities.
“Really, what I look for when I want to approach somebody about putting something out is good, original music and whether they are decent people,” Mewshaw said.
“They’re easygoing guys, fun to talk to or have a beer with. They play great music and appreciate a lot of different stuff individually, and I think that contributes to their sound.”