The first musical memory Ian Moore can recall is jumping through the membranous head of his kick drum. His parents had just supplied the drums as a birthday gift, and they were livid. The set may have been his brother's-Moore can't remember. What he does remember, and what matters most about this precious childhood anecdote, is that he beat the crap out of a musical instrument. It was Moore's first feeling that he could act as a vessel for musical recklessness.
Moore is still the same prolific songwriter and touring musician who became a staple of the Austin, Texas, music scene. But if you want to find him these days, you'll have to drive thousands of miles north and jump on a ferry. Nestled between the picturesque Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and washed up in the middle of the Puget Sound, Moore's settlement on Vashon Island is ideal for stroking the creative juices, but not so groovy if you want to own barstool real estate under the big-city lights.
"Living the life I live, spending so much time on the road and having it take a toll, that ferry ride is a great way to shake the road off of your body," Moore explains. "Actually having a passage across a body of water is a really nice way to put everything else on the back seat. Sounds pretentious, but it makes me feel like a new person."
That same aquatic transformation is his current musical muse.
"I've got this new song about Peter Sellers and sailing-he's in the top three of my holy trinity," Moore says. "There's this one scene in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers that talks about how he was basically an empty vessel. People would say, "He's brilliant but he always plays himself.' I always hope to be that vessel, to transport things through me."
Born to a social ethnographer father who took his family abroad to India to study Sanskrit and Daoism, Moore grew up next door to the Thurmans (you might be familiar with Uma) and cut his teeth on a castaway sitar and a beat-up violin.
Revered by a fiercely loyal fan base in the Austin music scene in the '90s, the Jackson Browne look-alike landed touring gigs with the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top before signing with Capricorn Records. His habit of changing labels frequently (he is ferociously protective of his own work) and releasing surprisingly glorious albums won over critics but hasn't yet helped him explode on the national scene. His newest exploration of expansive country-blues guitar, Luminaria, is slowly changing that.
Allow me to go fanzine-esque for a moment: it's a phenomenal, phenomenal record. And people are catching on.
Funny that they're catching on just as he's moved to a remote island far away from the "Live Music Capitol" of the U.S. (an official slogan for the city of Austin). He's shaking off the road as we speak, and would rather talk about fondue than Fenders.
"I could probably talk about cookbooks for the entire interview, which wouldn't make for the most rock 'n' roll conversation," he says. "It makes me sound like an old woman. I should just get the sex change if I'm going to talk about cookbooks."
Actually, sex changes and cookbooks is as rock 'n' roll as it gets.Ian Moore plays at Winston's, 8 p.m. on July 27. 619-222-8622.