As I sat and anxiously awaited the arrival of acoustic duo FEATherWOLF, I drank a hard cider at the bar of Cena on College Avenue. The two would be performing there after our interview. Singer/song writer Sam Luna arrived before his partner, singer/songwriter Shaun Marie Krueger, giving me a warm hug as he walked in the door, and taking the bar stool next to mine. He ordered a water. Luna wore a brown Goorin Brothers hat, a maroon paisley button up shirt, blue jeans and camel colored Cordwain boots. He kept eye contact throughout our conversation, and it all flowed pretty naturally. We even paused the recording a few times to talk about topics unrelated to the blog. You can tell he is serious about his art, but has a relaxed way about himself.
About a half an hour later, Krueger arrived, with her beautiful, long, blonde locks, wearing a button up jean shirt, black jeans and cowboy boots. She greeted me with a welcoming handshake and a sincere smile. She seemed to have the same attitude towards their music as Luna; serious, but relaxed and confident. After being with the two for a short period of time, it was obvious they are on the same page with their direction in life, and also crazy about one another. Both hugged me goodbye after the interview, and even introduced me as their “new friend” to a mutual friend of theirs. I felt completely comfortable with both of them.
Luna wanted a unique name for the duo.
“She always wears feathers in her hair, and she loves birds,” Luna says, speaking about Krueger.
The first time Luna’s music was played on the radio was in San Diego. The DJ asked him what his name was, so he told him “3/8 Moon Wolf” as a joke. He only played about once a month at the time, so as often as the full moon comes out.
Luna put the two ideas together, that of Krueger’s fondness of feathers and that of the “Moon Wolf”, and thus FEATherWOLF was born.
“As far as the writing of it, the capitalizations, it’ll make you read it a few times and hopefully it sticks in your head,” Luna says.
The pair first met about two years ago when Luna was finishing a solo album and needed female vocals on the record. After trying other female vocalists who didn’t work out, Luna met Krueger and asked her if she would sing.
“She was the lead singer for a cover band and had a rock voice, she has a really big voice, and so she’d only heard my mellow stuff. She came to record, and we really enjoyed working together, and she wanted to start writing some originals. I always wanted to have a duet project, so we just started working together,” Luna says.
Not only are the two partners musically, they are also in a relationship.
“We started as friends and then along the way it turned into something more,” Luna says.
Krueger is from Kiel, Wisconsin, while Luna hails from Tuba City, Arizona. Both now reside in the Fox Cities. Luna and Krueger both have day jobs to supplement income. Luna is an artist and does paintings when he has the time, while Krueger does some bartending.
FEATherWOLF’s music style has come together to become what Krueger describes as “folky Americana,” but separately their musical influences are a little different.
“Well, I grew up on Motown and country, and so I liked a lot of old country and a lot of soul music,” Luna says.
Krueger, on the other hand, says her biggest musical influence would have to be Janis Joplin. She says she loves the blues.
Luna likes the fact that they each bring something different to the table musically. He enjoys how FEATherWOLF has three components: his solo songs, her solo songs and their duet songs.
“Shaun came from a rock background and she’s an amazing writer as well, so her style of writing is more rock based and alternative, and then I do folk. Together we do old time country duets, but the more we play together those things are starting to meld together, hopefully along the way making our own sound,” Luna says.
Luna, 35, has been playing guitar since he was 24 years old. Krueger has been playing a little longer; she grew up in a musical family and has many family members in bands.
“I had a guitar since I was in like sixth grade; it was an electric guitar. I thought it was super sweet because it had a little amp with it, but I couldn’t really play it, and I just kind of put it under my bed for a few years. Later, I got an acoustic, and I guess high school is when I really showed interest in that. And then, I got really into the whole band thing when I was a junior or senior in college,” Krueger says.
Krueger is also a skilled harmonica player, which plays a crucial role in many of FEATherWOLF’s songs. When talking about the harmonica, Krueger says, “I love that instrument. I’ve been playing it for years.”
Krueger moved from Milwaukee to the Fox Cities three years ago, drawn to the local music scene.
“I was seeing and hearing about a lot of bands in the Fox Valley, and when I would look into the bands they were always awesome. There seemed to be so many venues to play in, so eventually I just shot up and moved here. It’s really cool being in an area that really wants original music and there’s a need for it, as opposed to trying to force it on people,” Krueger says.
Luna has lived in many different cities, and has been in and out of the area for the last six years, but was attracted to the Fox Cities as well.
“I think it’s amazing that there’s so many talented musicians in such a small area. I used to live in a lot of bigger cities, but I kept gravitating back towards here, especially the Fox Cities, just because I was more inspired here. Any night of the week you can go out and hear a really amazing, talented musician, whether it be cover music or original music. There’s just a lot of really talented musicians here,” Luna says.
The two agreed Appleton’s Gibson Music Hall has become one of their favorite venues, with Luna saying, “They’re really pushing the bar forward.” They also both mentioned The Source Public House in Menasha, which they both described as having the best sound.
While Luna sees the Fox Cities as being conducive to music making, he believes there is room for more collaboration.
“I think it would be great to see a lot of the musicians working together more. I think you get in your friend groups and you just end up playing shows with each other, and what everyone should try to do is mix things up and play shows with different people, just because I think that’s the thing that makes it great is the variety of music here in the area,” Luna says.
Luna also mentions the importance of giving back to the community and keeping audiences engaged. “If they don’t come out to the shows, we don’t get paid, we’re not able to do it, and so keeping it interesting and keeping it fresh, we could do a better job of that.”
FEATherWOLF started a non-profit organization called the Hopes and Dreams Foundation with the goal of getting music and art to children in the area. This was in response to recent cuts arts education funding. They are helping out at the Boys & Girls Club in Menasha right now, and creating a space where the local children can connect with children in different areas. For example, the two started music and art programs in Nicaragua with hopes of those children communicating with and forming relationships with children from the Fox Cities. Luna and Krueger hope to teach all the children at a young age that they can make a difference in not just their own communities, but communities around the world as well.
“I think we try to focus on giving back, trying to do as many benefits as we get asked to play, and Hopes and Dreams, trying to keep that art and music alive for younger generations to come and to keep people aware of that,” Krueger says.
Luna chimed in, showing his appreciation for the Fox Cities.
“Just for the community to keep coming out and supporting everyone, and all the different artists and musicians, because we appreciate it. If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so thanks,” Luna says.
FEATherWOLF’s first album is titled ‘To: You From: Me’. Grab a copy at one of their many shows or check out their music at featherwolfmusic.com. Their next album will be coming out around Christmas.
Krueger’s family puts on an annual benefit in honor of her cousin, Amy Krueger, who was shot and killed in the Texas Fort Hood shooting in 2009. The benefit for veteran charities is called Kruegsfest and will be held on November 4 in Kiel at Gravel Pit Bar & Grill. Krueger’s father’s band, Charlie Bucket Band, brother-in-law’s band, Sugarnova, and FEATherWOLF all will be performing. The event is open to the public.
In the diverse and ever-expanding music scene here in the Fox Valley, acoustic duo FEATherWOLF truly stands out. Their pristine harmonies, clever lyrical sensibility and dynamic stage presence makes them an act that shouldn’t be missed. You can catch FEATherWOLF on November 30 at Gibson Music Hall in Appleton.