Archive for July, 2007

88 Year Old Spencer Moore Releases Debut Album July 31

Friday, July 13th, 2007

88 year old country singer Spencer Moore played a tent show with the Carter Family in the 30’s, and was recorded in 1959 by Alan Lomax, who called him “as genuine as a rail fence.” His self-titled debut album is set for release on the Tompkins Square label July 31, 2007.
In our headlong rush into the age of iPods and laptops, it is reassuring to know that there are still people around like Spencer Moore. In a rustic mountain home perched on a green hillside of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, Spencer Moore remains almost untouched by modernity. He provides his own entertainment on an acoustic guitar now a half century old. Knowing between 500-600 songs by heart, he can sing you most any old-time song known in this part of the Blue Ridge.
Born into a family of 11 children on February 7, 1919 in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, Spencer was introduced to old-time music early on. After the family moved across the mountains to Laurel Bloomery the Moore family was exposed to more old-time music via their neighbor, the blind fiddler and singer, G.B. Grayson. Spencer’s father acquired a wind-up phonograph and records. Hearing records by the likes of Charlie Poole, Jimmie Rodgers , Riley Puckett and their neighbor, G.B. Grayson, stoked the fires of Spencer’s love of old-time music that much more. A few dollars bought him a guitar from Sears and Roebuck via the mail. In 1933, at age 14, Spencer attended the famous Whitetop Mountain Folk Festival. There he heard Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt sing “Three Little Babes,” an old British ballad also known as “The Wife of Usher’s Well.”
By the late 1930’s, Spencer and his brother Joe were performing publicly themselves as the Moore Brothers in the Delmore Brothers style. It was during this period that the Moores performed in a tent-show with the Carter Family.
In 1959, famed folklorist Alan Lomax along with Shirley Collins came into the hills of southwest Virginia to collect Blue Ridge mountain music. Lomax recorded a number of pieces by Spencer including Jimmy Sutton and The Girl I Left Behind. The performances were released on Atlantic and Prestige Records.
Spencer Moore is a living link to our musical past. He knew and played with the Carter Family, G. B. Grayson and Henry Whitter. Such links are becoming increasing rare. He is a treasure we should cherish.