Two years ago, April “Raven” Kepler spent her nights perusing Mankato karaoke bars. Even though she was a talented singer, Kepler never thought her voice would take her beyond that.
“No, I never thought I’d be in a band,” said Kepler, lead singer of the trio Raven Moon Rising, a Mankato-based cover band. “I was just a karaoke singer and it took a lot for me to get up and sing in front of people. With these two guys it makes it fun and easy.”
The two she mentioned are the other members of Raven Moon Rising, Chuck Remes and Matt Nieland. Raven Moon Rising began when Remes, who plays guitar, noticed Kepler singing karaoke at the Wine Cafe. Remes liked her voice and they began rehearsing together almost immediately. Two weeks later they had their first gig as a duo at Midtown Tavern.
Remes and Kepler continued to play together for another six months when they recruited Nieland after seeing him play an open-mic at the Wine Cafe. Nieland provides the rhythm guitar to Remes’ lead and back up vocals for Kepler.
“We weren’t as serious when we first started,” said Kepler. “Then when Matt joined, we were like ‘hey, we can be really good.’ We buckled down a little more.”
Since becoming a trio, Raven Moon Rising has played nearly 105 shows. And on Friday, they will celebrate their two-year anniversary at the Wine Cafe, where all three members met each other.
“We’ll be pulling out a bunch of old favorites from our catalog,” said Nieland. “We’re making T-shirts and stickers with our new logo that April drew herself, and we’ll be giving some of those out. The Wine Cafe isn’t a large place, but we’re hoping on packing it that night.”