Ian Moore was the fifth house concert I hosted, and 120 some shows later his is still the first name I mention when people ask about me about my favorite shows. Now that I finally got him back to the basement seven years later, I will be mentioning his name twice. After having played mostly (loud) band shows for the last several years, Moore was once again heading out as a duo with very talented (and adorable) multi-instrumentalist Kullen Fuchs. When they remembered to on this short Midwest run, they were playing songs from the Aerie EP they had released late last year. They had only played one at Schubas the night before, but with all the time in the world they made an effort tonight. Of course, the fact that they hadn’t played them much made for less polished songs than their usual fare, and they joked that this was the opening band’s set. After “Battlelines” Moore apologized that he didn’t remember the order of the chorus tags, so Fuchs was left guessing every time. Not only did the lack of time constraints mean they could play more songs, it also meant Moore could tell the stories behind all of them too.
“Extraordinary Love” was his effort to write a genuine song of comfort to his friends and family as they grew older and began losing loved ones. He succeeded in sincerity without a bit of cheese, even though he couldn’t remember which key it was in. He claims “Peregrine Blue” contains the best bridge he’s ever written, which considering his career is saying something. Still though, he claimed, it was not Cheap Trick level bridge writing. The Rockford band isn’t the only legend he admires, he’s also a huge Dylan fan. And a geeky one at that. He told the story of opening a Dylan tour back in the 90’s. When he finally got a chance to meet him, he prided himself on being almost totally cool during their hour and a half conversation about old bluesmen. Though he admitted there was a moment where he realized he was talking to Bob Dylan and got a little freaked out. Dylan asked if he wanted to play on one of the songs, and he ended up playing “You’re a Big Girl Now” with Dylan every night. As a huge Dylan fan, I loved hearing him play that song, though the night before at Schubas I was hoping it would be the chilling “Ballad of Hollis Brown” since they sound checked with that.
Moore began his career as a Texas blues guitar player, and even during these acoustic shows he takes time to set down the acoustic and pick up the electric for a couple tunes, one of which is always “Satisfied.” Personally I prefer the gorgeous songs from Luminaria, where he isn’t afraid to mellow out or to stretch his impressive falsetto. “Abilene” laments the fact that all of Texas isn’t as liberal or open-minded as his hometown of Austin, while “April” is reserved yet catchy. He told the heartwarming story behind “Paint Me a Blue Sky” written for his mother, who died of cancer when he was young, and is the whole reason he plays music. While on vacation in Door County, he went to her gravesite to play the song and brought along his two young sons who proceeded to spectacularly misbehave in the graveyard. The story behind the gorgeous “New Day” is so long that Fuchs took a seat on the futon for it. He’d told a version of it last time at the house, and I can’t do it justice here but it involves fly-fishing, writing a song with a guitar neck out the car window while speeding and playing a big gig sopping wet, more or less in that order.
Fuchs didn’t have much of a break, for the rest of the night he was switching between trumpet, vibraphone, accordion and keyboard, sometimes all on the same song. I always love the full band shows, but these duo shows seem extra special, and the ones in the basement are the best of all. Hopefully I won’t have to wait seven years for them to do it again.