By Steve Graham
Bevin Luna flavors every show with a broad mix of styles.
Her two studio albums pack short punches of grunge-influenced rock. Her songs sound like a mashup of the Pretenders and the Runaways being performed by the Heartless Bastards and Mudhoney.
However, her live shows might include at least as much country, folk or soul as roots rock. The diversity of sounds reflects the diversity in her background.
“My mom was Scotch-Irish and (Bevin) is a Gaelic name, and my dad’s from the Dominican Republic so that’s where Luna comes from,” she said.
Growing up in Memphis, her bi-racial background created challenges.
“I’ve never been black enough growing up in a predominantly black city,” Luna said. “My family is Latino and but I’ve never been Hispanic or Latino enough. My redneck family has always been like ‘you’re the black sheep.’ … I get a lot of assumptions that I’m not from a black family.”
Luna said her musical background is equally diverse and challenging.
“I get influenced by all sorts of stuff,” she said. “I am just inspired by different musicians and their process.”
She said she was surrounded by a wide array of great music in Tennessee.
“Being from Memphis, we had everything there with regards to R&B and soul music, blues,” Luna said, noting that her father added avant-garde jazz fusion to the mix.
Despite being immersed in the rich musical history of Memphis and attending a performing arts high school there, she was ready to move west. And the Rockies were calling to her.
“I went to Appalachian State, and I loved the mountains so much, I just wanted to upscale the mountains a little more,” Luna joked. “I moved out here to get away from the South and the volatility. … I love it down there, don’t get me wrong, but it’s dangerous.”
Luna said she was robbed and shot twice when she was 16 years old.
She also said the Memphis music scene is “pretty cut-throat,” and more competitive than the northern Colorado scene.
“I find the community here to be supportive and close-knit,” she said.
She had always been told her given name, Bevin Luna, sounds like a stage name.
“Ever since I was young, people were telling me, ‘you need to be a rock star,’” Luna laughed. “I said ‘okay, I’ll work on that.’”
She played solo open mic sets in 2005, then played rock shows with her brother, Gabe Luna.
“He plays every instrument under the sun, he can pick up the drums, pick up the bass, lead guitar, whatever,” Luna said. “So I played shows with him when I would go home to Memphis, then he moved here and we played shows here.”
He performed on both her studio albums, but he is now focused on his own project, Insmuth.
Guitarist Richard Christner, who also plays in the alt-country collective Hendershot, started filling in for Luna’s brother when he couldn’t play gigs, and he is now a core member of her live lineup. He said he appreciates the diversity in Luna’s sets.
“It’s always different music,” he said. “It’s a challenge and I like that as a musician. … It’s always a thrill to play with somebody who can play such a range.”
Luna’s band also includes bassist Mitch Clark, drummers Steve Hartman and Morgan Coley.
She said with infinite time and resources, she would record an acoustic folk record, a country record, and even some electronic dance tracks.
“It would be nice to do separate albums from different genres,” she said.
Luna’s ultimate dream is to balance her professional career and her music. She is an industrial hygienist at Colorado State University, assessing workplace health and safety practices. She hopes to focus that work on music festivals and other events.
In the meantime, her work and her diverse upcoming shows are keeping her busy. She is playing with surf-rockers Night Champ and post-punk band A.M. Pleasure Assassins at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Swing Station in Laporte. She was also selected for the Underground Music Showcase in Denver July 26 to 28.