Dallas Moore is no newcomer to the area music scene. He's released three studio albums, a live CD and a concert DVD over the past decade and won more than a dozen awards both locally (CEAs and CAMMYs) and nationally (the Southern Music Hall of Fame's Horizon Award). And yet in some ways, Moore's new album, Tales From a Road King, feels an awful lot like a beginning.
"I'm happier and more comfortable with this CD than any of the other ones," Moore says over wings and a beer at Willie's. "I didn't want to have two good songs and the rest of it's ass. I wanted to have what we would call an album."
Moore gives a great deal of the credit for Road King's sonic success to co-producer and friend Ken Glidewell.
"The whole concept was his idea," Moore says of the Big in Iowa bassist and longtime local radio personality. "He said, 'You've got five CDs out and your live CD and DVD sound like you, but you've never captured in the studio what people see live.' Recording with my friend made all the difference in the world.
He's like an extra member of the band."
Road King finds Moore exploring many musical facets simultaneously, from hardcore Country tilt to Southern Rock intensity to Bluegrass twang. Although these genres have always helped define Moore's creative personality, Road King is the first time he's given them free rein.
"That's why I'm real happy with this CD," Moore says. "You hear all these different influences, but it's not like us trying to be a different band on each song. It all sounds like me, you hear the obvious Southern Rock and Outlaw Country, but you also hear Bluegrass, Blues and Jazz, and it's the first one that we've got that on."
Moore's broad musical interests date back to his first guitar at age 16. Long before the Norwood native had mastered his craft, he and a friend were booking themselves into local bars as a guitar/drums duo.
"We did everything ass backward," says Moore with a laugh. "Most people learn their craft and get good. We learned three chords, plugged into an old acoustic amp and started booking gigs. We didn't know what a bass player was, let alone that we were supposed to have one. We got told real quick."
Early on, Moore sat in with the likes of Larry Mink and Billy Gant and then received a Jazz scholarship to Northern Kentucky University. After nearly a decade of honing his skills, Moore finally put together his debut CD, One More Ride, in 1998. Along with bassist Bob Rutherford and guitarist Chuck Morpurgo (who, with drummer Rocky Purnell and vocalist Miss Heather, have morphed into the Snatch Wranglers, Moore's band of record), Moore released two more studio albums — 2000's Untold Stories and 2002's High on the Hog — after 1999's Live — Back at the Saddle. Other than his 2004 live DVD, One Night in Kentucky, and Road King, Moore's catalog is "out of print" but still available.
"You can get them all on downloads," says Moore. "We may reissue them at some point, but for now it's easier to let everybody get them that way. I still like them all. You can hear that I'm still learning. You try stuff; 'This worked, shit, that didn't, why the hell did I do that?' It really is like that."
Moore's range has allowed him to open for Southern rockers like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers, Country royalty like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and David Allan Coe and crossover hotshots like Montgomery Gentry and Shooter Jennings. It's Moore's relentless work ethic that keeps him playing — locally, nationally, with the band or solo — an average of 300 dates a year.
The experience of making Road King was so satisfying that he's already begun the process of making his next album, which he hopes to have out by Thanksgiving. That's a far cry from the six-year gap between Road King and High on the Hog.
"It's fired me up; I've written 15 new songs and about eight of them are pretty good," Moore says with a wide grin. "We're actually recording the demos for the next one. I don't want everybody to have to wait that long again."
DALLAS MOORE (dallasmoore.com) plays the Knotty Pine Wednesday and KC's Pub Sunday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.