R. Stevie Moore may be the most acclaimed underground pop musician ever to come out ofor escape fromNashville. He’s undoubtedly the most prolific. And yet countless LPs, cassettes, and CD compilations haven’t made Moore’s music any easier to find. Next month, the New Mexico label Flamingo Records releases his seminal 1976 LP Phonography on CD for the first time, offering ’90s listeners another chance to connect with this legendary indie figure.
The son of Bob Moore, the renowned bassist who recorded with everyone from Patsy Cline to Elvis Presley as part of Music Row’s “A-Team,” Moore grew up in Madison and attended Madison High. He sang on a Jim Reeves single when he was 7 years old, and by the late 1960s and early ’70s he was getting some work as a session musician, playing bass on a Perry Como record and lead guitar on an early Manhattans cut. He also appeared briefly as a Grand Ole Opry sideman, according to Smithereens drummer and rock historian Dennis Diken.
But Moore was fascinated by bizarre pop, rock, and electronic records that were anathema to the Nashville music industry, and as a high-schooler in the late ’60s, he began slipping into the studio to experiment. With a group of like-minded friends, including Billy Anderson, Roger Ferguson, and the late folksinger Victor Lovera, he formed a series of short-lived early-’70s Nashville bands, among them Ethos, Fugto, and Billy A. and the Swings. He spent his spare time recording dozens of homemade songs guaranteed to elicit blank stares from Music Row. From tapes of these one-man-band recordings, made between 1972 and 1974, Moore’s uncle compiled the tracks that make up Phonography, releasing the record on his own HP label in 1976.
Disgusted with the local music scene, and frustrated by his lack of attention, Moore left Nashville in 1978 and moved to New Jersey, where he currently works in a Montclair record store. But his cult following has grown through the years, thanks to a mind-boggling series of home-produced cassettes. Since the late 1970s, through his R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club, Moore has issued at least 233 tapes of found sounds and D.I.Y. pop. In The Trouser Press Guide to ’90s Rock, Ira Robbins calls his prodigious output an “awesomeand seemingly bottomlesswell of talent.”
“A friend of mine calls him ‘the world’s most criminally underfunded tribute artist,’ ” says Miles Goosens, a Nashville-based technical trainer for First American National Bank who operates the R. Stevie Moore Web site. “He has such diverse influences; it’s as if you’d taken the Beatles, Captain Beefheart, Zappa, the Bonzo Dog Band, XTC, and the Beach Boys, and thrown them in a blender.”
The reissued Phonography will have nine bonus tracks, along with extensive liner notes by Diken; it should be out in a couple of weeks. After that, Flamingo plans a CD reissue of Moore’s Delicate Tension LP, which contains more of his Nashville recordings. Ordering information can be found on Goosens’ Web site (www.mindspring.com/~outdoorminer/rstevie/news.html#phonorder). In the meantime, Goosens suggests the best introduction to Moore is through the musician’s tapes, which he compares to radio shows. Moore still puts out several tapes every year; for a catalog, send two 32-cent stamps to the R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club, 429 Valley Rd., Montclair, N.J. 07043.
It’s official: Jack’s Guitar Bar is calling it quits. After years of perpetual financial trouble, the Nolensville Road watering hole will close its doors Aug. 1. Owner Jack Sawyer says he’s received some offers to keep the place open as a club, but others have considered converting the cozy room into a Mexican restaurant or the office for a small car lot.
For seven years, Jack’s served as a friendly, low-pressure listening room for dozens of aspiring bands and singer-songwriters. Sawyer, a former photo compositor, initially opened the bar as an informal party place for his circle of friends. Soon, though, artists such as Steve Earle and Kim Richey could be seen testing out new material on its tiny stage.
The club just celebrated its anniversary July 1 with frequent guests Clint Bullard and Marc-Alan Barnett. Now Sawyer says it’s time for him to move on. “I’ve got a novel and a symphony to finish,” he explains. He’s also compiling a book of his favorite musician’s jokesdon’t get him started on the differences between writer’s nights and blues jams.
The club’s last official show will be the hard-swinging country band the Ex-Husbands on July 31, but the colorful Sawyer hasn’t ruled out one big blowout performance that weekend to send Jack’s off in style. Ask him to pick his favorite show over the years, and he waxes eloquent. “That’s like setting a tray of unblemished diamonds in front of me and asking which one’s the prettiest,” he says.
Monday night kicks off Music City Blues Showcase ’98, an ambitious recording project and fundraiser for the Music City Blues Society. Over the next two months, Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar will host weekly showcases for some of Nashville’s most popular blues performers, including Dean Hall & the Loose Eels (Aug. 5), Miranda Louise (Aug. 8), the mighty Herbert Hunter & the Champions (Aug. 22), Delicious Blues Stew (Aug. 25), Amy Watkins (Sept. 9), and Celinda Pink (Sept. 15). The performances will be taped for an upcoming CD compilation; proceeds will benefit Music City Blues, a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes blues music through various outreach programs.
Better still, each Nashville artist has been paired on a bill with a national headliner, and some of those shows should smoke underwater: If you’ve never seen “Queen of the Blues” Koko Taylor (Aug. 8) growl “Wang Dang Doodle,” prepare to hear bluesy raunch at its most primordial. We’re most excited, though, about the great Big Jack Johnson (Aug. 11), a founding member of Frank Frost’s fearsome Jelly Roll Kings. Other upcoming headliners include Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band (July 31) and Kenny Neal (Aug. 5 and Sept. 21).
Monday’s show combines Rick Moore & Mr. Lucky with headliner Big Mike Griffin; Wednesday pairs Mississippi Millie with Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets with Sam Myers. Call the Blues Hotline at 292-5222 for show times and schedule updates.
A pair of Nashville jazz notables, bassist Victor Wooten and vocalist Benita Hill, are getting national attention of late. Wooten was one of the winners in this year’s prestigious Downbeat Critics Poll, in the Talent Deserving Wider Recognition category for electric bass. He beat out such notables as producer/bassist Bill Laswell and John Patitucci. The win has earned Wooten a sizable article in the magazine’s August issue. His bandmates, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, placed fourth in the Talent Deserving Wider Recognition category for electric jazz group.
Also, guitarist Bill Frisell’s Nashville CD was voted album of the year, a fairly shocking development, given Downbeat’s conservative critical constituency. The Frisell release nudged out such acclaimed competition as Wynton Marsalis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields, Roy Hargrove’s sensational Afro-Latin opus Habana, and the Ornette Coleman/ Joachim Kuhn collaboration Colors.
Meanwhile, Hill, whose Fan the Flame album has attracted favorable attention throughout the Southeast, will be among the featured performers at the eighth annual Houston International Jazz Festival on July 31. She’ll be sharing the bill with Boney James, Norman Brown, and Chuck Mangione.
Hill is also among the featured artists at this Sunday’s Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society summer concert series, alongside other area female jazz singers Sharon Moore, Sandra Dudley, and Connye Florance. The event begins 6 p.m. July 26 at Belle Meade Plantation. For additional info, call 386-7500.
Can I just tell you how happy these recaps make me every Thursday? And I…
Don't know about the David Simon part. I've finally watched a few episodes of TREME,…
Just so you know, you accidently put Scarlett's name instead of Juliette's under Glenn. I…
my girl and I hadn't been that much into all the TV shows when we…