Inspired by Terry Riley, Ethiopian and Thai music, and the outer limits of jazz, Sunwatchers are a New York City-based ensemble who play a heavy, intense brand of mystical free rock.
Coming from roots in Athens, Georgia's wild-eyed Dark Meat collective, the group quickly became a part of New York's experimental scene and released records on exploratory indie labels like Castle Face and Trouble in Mind. Their electric energy was in full swing by the time of their third album, 2019's Illegal Moves.
Sunwatchers is centered around Jim McHugh, who plays guitar and electric phin, as well as alto sax player Jeff Tobias, bassist Peter Kerlin, percussionist Cory Bracken, and drummer Jason Robira. Other musicians who contribute to Sunwatchers include McHugh's wife Katie Eastburn (formerly of Young People), guitarist/keyboard player Dave Harrington (formerly of DARKSIDE), guitarist Ben Greenberg, keyboard player Dave Kadden, and fiddle player Jonah Rapino. Originally from North Carolina, McHugh first became known as one of the founders of the wild, improvisatory Athens collective Dark Meat before moving to New York City and becoming involved with its experimental music scene. He formed the acclaimed psychedelic rock group Nymph and played with free jazz legend Arthur Doyle, in addition to solo performances and sound installations.
By 2013, Sunwatchers had begun to take shape, performing at new music festivals and small venues in New York, and the group's self-released cassette Tomb Howl appeared in late 2014. Sunwatchers' self-titled debut full-length arrived on Castle Face in March 2016. They moved to Trouble in Mind for their second album, II, which was released in early 2018. They quickly returned the next year with Illegal Moves, their most charged effort to date. The album included a cover of Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, the El Daoud." ~ Paul Simpson