Rock On: Stella Luna founders have deep local ties

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Morgan and Tom Turner are the founding members of the popular regional dance band Stella Luna and the Satellites. The couple lives in Pendleton.

GREENFIELD — A popular regional band with local ties, Stella Luna and the Satellites have been rocking local festivals, bars, weddings and community events since 2012.

Some are surprised to learn that the lead singer — the only woman in the-five member band — isn’t named Stella Luna, after all.

Morgan Turner and her husband, Tom, first started making music together as an acoustic duo in 2011.

For the past 16 years, Turner has worked as a speech pathologist at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield.

Her husband is a New Palestine native, having graduated from New Palestine High School in 1985. As a teen, he played a number of local parties and venues with his band, Vexten.

“The cops were called a time or two,” he recalled with a grin.

The couple now lives in Pendleton with Turner’s 13-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.

Playing and rehearsing together many times each week has never been a challenge for the musically-inclined couple.

“I feel like a lot of people probably couldn’t work with their spouse, but we work great together,” said Turner. “We want to be together all the time instead of wanting to get away from each other, so we really can’t spend enough time together,” she said.

She and her husband got their start performing at a former coffee shop and restaurant in Greenfield called The Bread Ladies.

They met their drummer, Gary Rakow, when he was playing at an open mic event in Broad Ripple, and asked him to join them at their next gig. He’s been with them ever since.

“Very quickly the duo turned into a trio, and the trio turned into a quartet, which evolved into the five-member band Stella Luna,” Tom Turner said.

When the opportunity to play at a dance club one night came along, the band quickly realized they’d have to up their game — switching from laid-back coffeehouse tunes to music more suitable for dance parties.

“We quickly learned what we would need to do to be successful in the dance club circuit, so we added dance songs to our set and it’s been full force ahead ever since,” Morgan Turner said.

Now the upbeat dance band plays everything from the Beatles to Blondie, Kenny Loggins to Kid Rock.

“I feel like every time we play music it helps people just kind of tune out the world for a little while, and just enjoy being together,” she said. “You can just tell people just love coming together, especially after COVID. People just like to get out and forget about things for a little while. They love to sing along and dance. It just brings people joy.”

Stella Luna and the Satellites have been a regional favorite since 2012, packing the house at various venues throughout the greater Indianapolis area several nights a week.

“We go two hours outside of town in all directions on a regular basis, and occasionally we’ll do some event in Kentucky or Ohio,” said Morgan Turner, who grew up in Fishers.

The band plays about 100 gigs a year.

This weekend they’ll perform at the New Pal Summer Fest next weekend. They will be at the Maison County Shriner’s Fundraiser on July 23 and the after party for the Hancock Flat 50 bike race in Greenfield on August 27.

The Turners came up with the name Stella Luna during their days as a duo.

“We loved the stars and moon type of theme but thought it sounded cool in Latin, so we called ourselves Stella Luna,” the Latin words for star and moon, Morgan Turner said.

“Because we were a rotating cast of characters for a few months (with various musicians joining in), we landed on adding ‘the Satellites,’” she said.

One of her favorite songs to perform right now is “Levitating” by Dua Lipa. She also loves to sing “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. “I love seeing people’s faces light up when they hear the intro. It’s a crowd pleaser for sure,” she said.

To learn more about Stella Luna and the Satellites or to find upcoming performances, visit stellalunamusic.com.

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