Nancy Whiskey prepares for life after Darby O’Gill (and vice versa)

Tristan Moyer, aka Nancy Whiskey, heads east on I-40 after a three-show finale with Darby O’Gill and the Little People.
Photo: Steve Marcus

When local Irish cover band Darby O’Gill and the Little People first started playing in bars, then-18-year-old singer and fiddle player Tristan Moyer wasn’t even able to drink legally. She didn’t have a lot of experience performing live, either, but practice paid off. A few months later, her Little People persona, Nancy Whiskey, was born, along with her bandmates’ characters: Darby O’Gill, Ringo Malarkey, Barry McKockiner and Tipsy McStaggers.

Twelve years and a few hundred shots since that first gig at Fado (now Quinn’s) inside Green Valley Ranch Resort, Moyer is saying goodbye to the band, trading pub anthems and pints for a 9-to-5 life in Memphis, Tennessee. “I just want to do something different,” she explains. “I’ve been here my whole adult life ... I graduated from UNLV [and] I’ve never had, like, a job. This has been my job.”

Over the years, Darby’s unabashed attitude and punk spontaneity landed the band regular weekend gigs at Hennessey’s, McMullan’s and their longtime Henderson haunt. “In some ways, we kinda got lucky when [Fado] opened,” Moyer says. “People were super excited about it, [and] we were really fun.” Whatever the venue, Moyer says she always had the best seat in the house, watching fans dance and drink like sailors every weekend. And the band’s ability to hold its Jameson for so many consecutive nights? It wasn’t a gimmick, she promises.

But Moyer, now 30, says she’s ready for something different, a day job, which made her the butt of jokes throughout last Saturday’s Quinn’s show. But if more than a decade with the guys has taught her anything, it’s that nothing is too taboo for the stage. “We’re like family,” she says. Still, it’s time to move on. The change of pace, she hopes, will allow her to focus on herself, and write more of her own music, something she’s been working on since she announced her impending move.

Moyer’s most recent collaboration with Boulder City singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, EP No Sleep ’Til Nashville, was released at Velveteen Rabbit last Sunday. But her musical roots will always be with Darby. That’s where she learned to really play, she says. As for the band minus Nancy Whiskey, the guys have a new fiddle player picked out, and he’ll be in place soon. Moyer’s final string of shows run October 3-5. “It’s going to be really hard,” Moyer says. “None of us really imagined that we’d be doing this for 12 years and that so many people would have so much fun. What we’ve accomplished has been really cool—be in a cover band and not kill our souls doing it.” That certainly deserves a shot or two.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People October 3, 9 p.m., Hennessey’s; October 4, 10 p.m., McMullan’s; October 5, 10 p.m., Quinn’s; all free.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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