A popular fixture in the music scene since the late 1980s, Ian Moore is known for his hard driving, bluesy, Jimi Hendrix-style of shredding.
Moore, with Jeff Plankenhorn sharing the stage, will play Auditorium at The Douglass March 10, and at the T-Town Git Down & Midnite Choogle at the Tulsa VFW Post 577 March 11.
Raised by a long-haired Buddhist scholar of a father and a bohemian mother who wore toe rings, the guitar prodigy shrugged off the heckling about his parents as a teen in Austin, Moore remained focused on music. He began playing the violin at age 7 and took up the guitar a few years later, playing the local music joints with his distinctive folksy blues rock guitar stylings. He quickly built a loyal fan base at a pair of local spots and continued to hone his chops around town whenever and wherever he could.
Performing as a touring guitarist for Americana country rocker Joe Ely opened the door for Moore to tour as a solo artist opening for ZZ Top, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones on their respective tours. Next came his chance to sign with Capricorn Records. This relationship produced his self-titled album that debuted in 1993. Moore released another studio album and a live record before landing the role of Randy Horsefeathers in 1996’s Sling Blade.
“I am one of those opportunistic feeders. I did Sling Blade because those guys are all friends of mine,” Moore said. “And I don’t think any of those guys, including Billy Bob [Thorton], thought it was going to be a hit. Then when it was a hit, I got an agent for a while. But doing what I do, just trying to play music is pretty much a full time thing, and it takes up a lot of my energy … Most of the time I’m just curating my career, keeping things going. Writing, rehearsing and touring. But I do get to do some cool things from time to time, whenever they just happen.”
Jeff Plankenhorn will be opening the show. He has been playing music for many years and has co-written and recorded many times with the great Ray Wylie Hubbard. The two met by chance walking in Memphis.
“We were both there for the Folk Alliance International Conference. My friend Tom Jurek was with me. Tom knew Ray and helped him write his biography, so he introduced us. He told Ray I was a dobro player and he offered me a gig for that night.”
The pair have been working together since Hubbard convinced him to move from Canada to Texas. Plankenhorn has invented an instrument that is a mix of a lap steel, a dobro and electric guitar. Folks call it a Plank guitar.
Moore spoke of legendary Austin venues forced to shut down in the late 1990s when the tech boom went tech bust. Commercial rent in some cases tripled, so many businesses vacated buildings that were demolished to construct high-rises. He said he’s seen that again all over the country through the years, including Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey where artists like Bruce Springsteen, REM, Nirvana and The Replacements had played.
“It was one of the most important venues in America. These venues just get shut down and close for good, then they get unceremoniously torn down when they should be treated more like a church. We should be grateful that this has not happened in Oklahoma City,” he said.
“I’ve played Oklahoma, I bet, a hundred times or more over the years between Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” Moore said. “When I first played Cain’s Ballroom, it was right before Larry Shaeffer sold it. He had a production company called Little Wing because he had done some shows with Jimi Hendrix. We became so tight that he gave me a Uni-Vibe pedal that Jimi Hendrix had given him … I was just 23 or 24 years old, and I had already toured with Joe Ely so I had done some pretty cool shit by then, and gotten big in some towns, but playing Cain’s Ballroom as a solo act at that time was a big step up for me. My first show at Cain’s was absolutely a packed house.”
While Moore may be playing one of the newer venues in town, he’s spent the last few decades cutting his teeth at another local venue. If you couldn’t tell, Ian doesn’t forget much.
“The Blue Door is one of the most legendary venues in the entire country. If the day comes that it is in the past, a lot of people will say it’s a very sad day. Everyone that is a songwriter, in a certain scene, with that folky-leaning kind of vibe that is about poetry, words and storytelling, then you play The Blue Door, period. It’s one of the best rooms in the country for me to perform,” Moore said.
“For a while there, Oklahoma kind of became like north Austin for me.”