Last Friday night, while fans of headliners Deerhoof were still warming up their Honda Fits, a sparse crowd of early-birds flocked to the Mercy Lounge stage to welcome home local legend R. Stevie Moore. In truth, he is a legend in his own mind. Just check out his official website for a glowing auto-biography and an incredibly detailed “brief” timeline of his life, including exact street addresses of his childhood homes in East Nashville and information regarding whether or not he grew a beard in certain years. Moore really likes to play up the fact that he’s never received the recognition he deserves, but I think that sort of comes with the territory of releasing obscure, analog bedroom pop records in a musical era that has witnessed everything from Woodstock to Bieber Fever. If you passed R. Stevie playing guitar, flailing about with his stark white coif in a constant state of disarray, and keeping a frantic beat with his Walmart tennis shoes on the sidewalk outside of Tootsie’s, you’d more than likely pass him off as another down-trodden busker and not even consider that you were in the presence of indie rock’s forgotten pioneer.
Son of elite Nashville studio bassist Bob Moore, who most notably worked with the Grand Ole Opry and Elvis Presley, R. Stevie was raised amongst musicians and recording facilities. By age 16, he was creating experimental home recordings, which have not since ceased. His dissonant and dada-esque style has undeniably influenced the Apples in Stereo, Patrick Porter, and the early works of Beck Hansen. Trying to deny RSM’s gift would be almost as nonsensical as trying to dissect his lyrics.
This largely self-taught multi-instrumentalist with an avant garde sense of recording is now a ripe 59-years old, and after over 30 years and more than 2,000 recordings, he still doesn’t seem to have grown bored of churning out independent releases. Following decades spent living and recording in New England, the egocentric cult hero returned to Nashville in December of 2010. He launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to fund his forthcoming album, which reached his $10,000 goal a mere 3 days before the deadline. On January 31, 2011, Moore played a 13 song set on Vanderbilt’s WRVU 91.1 FM, which is now for sale on iTunes under the title “Live Love Loud.”
On Friday, February 4, R. Stevie Moore paired up with high school buddy Richard Rogers at Mercy Lounge for an acoustic rehashing of many of his old standards and a chance to shamelessly plug the aforementioned Kickstarter campaign. After his all too brief set, I found myself standing next to the self-proclaimed genius in the crowd during Deerhoof’s performance. I was pleased to find that what can be interpreted as pretension, may just be an incredible appreciation for innovation in any form, as he exclaimed, “These guys are too good!” and shuffled through the crowd like an excited teenager.