By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Acclaimed onetime Austin, TX-based songwriter and guitar slinger Ian Moore returns to his former Bay Area stomping grounds this week for a pair of shows promoting his latest EP Strange Days in Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
Born in Berkeley, Moore showed an early interest in music, picking the sitar as a precocious five year old and later studying violin before moving on to guitar as a teen. He absorbed a vast array of musical influences growing up with his itinerant family (his father was a linguistics and Eastern studies scholar) that at various times lived in California, Mexico and India before ending up in Austin.
Moore would study musicology at the University of Texas with an eye towards a career in journalism, but music began to dominate after he recorded and toured with Austin honky-tonk legend Joe Ely in 1992. Moore would establish a solid regional following with his own band soon afterwards, scoring a record deal with Capricorn and getting pegged as a possible heir apparent for the blues-guitar thrown of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn.
While his eponymous 1993 debut and the follow-up Modernday Folklore featured a mix of blazing guitar anthems and soulful vocals that lived up to that promise. The songs garnered plenty of Texas radio airplay and the guitarist found himself and his band opening for ZZ Top, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. But Moore didn’t see himself as just another entrant in the SRV sweepstakes. When he submitted songs for his third album that leaned towards a mix of power pop and roots rock, the band was dropped by the label and imploded shortly thereafter.
The change would prove liberating for Moore, as he went on to record for a variety of independent labels with a myriad of collaborators, touching on everything from Beatlesesque pop to gutsy garage psych to the kind of autumnal, country-tinged atmospheres favored by Daniel Lanois (he has also collaborated with the noted songwriter/producer). Having relocated to Seattle well over a decade ago (though he did reside in the Bay Area for a period of time in the mid-90s) Moore has made regular visits to San Francisco during his frequent tours up and down the West Coast including appearances at Hipnic, the series of outdoor weekend festivals in Big Sur curated and headlined by Mother Hips.
He comes back to play songs from his latest studio recording, the eight-song EP Strange Days that was recorded in collaboration with such luminaries as guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada (ex-Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Echocentrics) and Oakland-based hip-hop producer Jim Greer (Rondo Brothers). A follow-up to The Nobel Art — his celebrated collection of soul covers including songs by Al Green and Solomon Burke, the new collection mixes those soul and funk influences (a version of the Aaron Neville nugget “Hercules” would have fit nicely on The Nobel Art) with elements of psychedelia, blues grit and ’60s British rock.
Wednesday, March 8, 8 p.m. $10
The Crepe Place
Thursday, March 9, 8 p.m. $8-$15
Brick and Mortar Music Hall