Having A Coffee With… is a fun series in which we ask bluegrass music personalities, some famous, some not so well known, about some of their interests, as well as about the music that they love.
Born on December 21, 1963, Russell Moore began playing music around the age of 11, inspired by bluegrass greats the Osborne Brothers.
He joined a regional band, the Bluegrass Ramblers, at the age of 15, playing concerts and festivals in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
Around 1982 he moved to Arlington, Texas, and helped (with Scott Vestal) to form the bluegrass band Southern Connection. After almost two years of living in Arlington, the band moved east and settled in Asheville, North Carolina.
In 1985, Russell went to work for the bluegrass band Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, with whom he featured as lead singer on seven albums.
In 1991 Russell Moore helped found IIIrd Tyme Out, the band, performing as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out since 2007.
What would you like to drink?
“Well, it’s 5:30 a.m. here in Georgia, so definitely coffee….strong and black!”
Do you want anything to eat as well?
“Being born in the south (in Texas), I usually prefer, what I call, a ‘traditional’ southern breakfast……bacon and/or sausage, eggs, some sort of potato and, sometimes, a little milk gravy over all of it! Breakfast tacos are really cool from time to time. But today, I have a taste for an ‘everything’ bagel with lox (smoked salmon), cream cheese, onions, tomatoes and capers (extra capers please!!)
What’s your favorite food?
“Honestly, there’s not much I don’t like! My favorites are Italian, Mexican and seafood (including, but not limited to, SUSHI!!). If I have to be pinned down to one type, I’d probably have to go with Mexican….or Tex-Mex.”
And what would you have to drink with that?
“Usually, un-sweetened, iced tea and/or ice water. But ice-cold ‘cerveza’ goes down good at times with Tex-Mex! For Italian food, if not tea or water, a really nice glass of wine (merlot or cabernet) is a great companion!”
What’s the nicest meal that you have ever had?
“For quality and taste, there’s too many to choose from. Let’s just say that any meal with family, friends and/or loved ones is a blessing and the BEST meal I’ve ever had!!”
Let’s talk bluegrass…..
Where/when did you first hear bluegrass music?
“While growing up in Texas……I was around 7 or 8 years old. Some cousins that lived around Houston were bluegrass music fans and they invited my mom and dad to attend a show or festival (can’t remember which came first). My parents fell in love with the music and we started traveling to festivals in and around Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. There was also a bluegrass show on the first Saturday of every month just outside of Cleveland, Texas, that we started attending regularly. It was hosted by ‘The Bluegrass Ramblers of Texas’, which later became the first band that I performed with.”
Which of your own songs do you have a particular liking for?
“I like them all! Especially the ones in ‘B’ chord. ‘B’ stands for Bluegrass and Bill Monroe! But one of my all-time favorites is Erase The Miles. It was our first #1 song for IIIrd Tyme Out and Carl Jackson (the writer) in bluegrass music and it’s been a crowd favorite since 1991 when we first recorded the song. In fact, according to surveys we’ve conducted, our fans have voted it their overall, favorite song we’ve recorded and/or perform!”
What about a song written by someone else?
“Any song with a great story or message. We are so fortunate to have some really talented writers in bluegrass music today and I enjoy listening to their songs to see where they take me!!”
Which particular album do you like best and why?
“I really have a hard time trying to pick one particular recording for this question. But, let’s go back to the beginning….for me, at least. The Osborne Brothers recording Voices In Bluegrass! My mother bought that from a mail order catalog and I can’t tell you how many needles I wore out on that thing! That recording is maybe the biggest reason that I’m performing bluegrass music today! The songs, the arrangements, the instrumentation, the vocal harmonies and, especially, Bobby’s clear, high-lead voice, were my ‘calling card’ to play bluegrass music! Another one of their recordings is dear to my heart…..Favorite Hymns. Absolutely love their renditions of some classic gospel songs!”
You play a guitar …. … What model is it?
“The guitar I play most of the time is a 1938, Martin D-28 herringbone. I acquired the guitar from Doug Cole, a dear friend who passed away several years ago.”
Of all the instruments that you have owned what’s your favorite Instrument?
“My 1938 Martin guitar and a guitar that was given to me by J.D. Rhynes (from West Point, California). Both guitars have HUGE sentimental value as well as great sound!”
What’s your favorite bluegrass memory?
“One of my favorite memories in bluegrass music is when Bill Monroe took the time to teach me a tune he had written on the guitar. I don’t remember what he called/titled the tune, but he played it for me in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the later 1980s.”
How do you keep fit and healthy when you spend so much time on the road?
“The ‘road’ is not really conducive to staying fit and healthy, but we do what we can. Meals provided by promoters, fans and friends at the venues and festivals provide us with better than ‘fast food’ and on-the-go meals, and we’re very thankful for that! Also, when possible, a brisk walk to get the heart rate up takes place.”
Are you a sports fan? Who do you follow?
“I love sports and try to keep up as much as possible. For college sports, I tend to follow the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets (they won their division (ACC COASTAL) but just lost the ACC Championship game to FSU…OUCH!!). For professional football, I pull for the San Francisco 49ers, the Atlanta Falcons and, my wife’s favorite team, the Washington Redskins. I don’t really follow professional basketball, but I love college basketball and ‘March Madness’ and all Olympic sports every other year!”
What hobbies do you have?
“I really don’t have much time for hobbies and such, but, when time permits, I love spending time with family and/or friends on trips to the beach or anyplace that provides wonderful memories and experiences to reflect on later! Also, I love to play poker and I’m always up for sitting down and throwing the cards around a table!”
What is the last movie film that you watched?
“The last film that my wife, Carol, and I watched was Quigley Down Under, starring Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman and Laura San Giacomo. It came out around 1990. I also love Clint Eastwood films (especially his early western movies), any movie with John Wayne and all Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies (still need to introduce myself to the Hobbit series!). I’m leaving out a lot of stuff here, but those are the first that come to mind.”
Do you get much time to watch TV?
“At home, watching TV is usually the first thing I do in the morning (got to get my news for the day!) and the last thing I’ll do before going to bed (my ‘wind-down’ time). If I’m watching a TV series, one of my favorites is NCIS (with Mark Harmon).”
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in bluegrass music?
“I was born and raised in Pasadena, Texas, not far from Galveston and the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a location that is abundant with petroleum refineries. I worked for a refinery right after finishing high school for a year or two, and I have three brothers that work in this field now. These jobs provide the opportunity to maintain a very nice and respectable living and could possibly be what I would be doing now if not for getting the ‘music bug’.”
Moore has earned several SPBGMA awards as Male Vocalist of the Year and won the IBMA award for Male Vocalist of the Year in 1994, 1997, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
He has classic high-lonesome sounding vocals that swoop and soar. One commentator described Moore as “the ultimate lead singer” whose “voice seems to be getting even better with age.”
In 2004 the guitar player was presented with the SPBGMA’s Master’s Gold Award.
Russell Moore lives in Cumming, Georgia.
Happy Birthday Russell!