David Michael Moore, 71, is an artist and woodworker living in Rosedale, Mississippi. A creator of elegant and unconventional woodcraft, he weaves sycamore branches into shelves, benches, and cradles, and hews local hardwood into massive bowls. Moore also makes his own instruments — zithers, harps, wooden drums, buzz boxes and dog bone xylophones. Using these “perverted”, hybrid instruments — along with regular ones: piano, synths, drums — Moore makes ecstatic music that twirls amid zydeco, Sufi mystical music, and the prepared piano compositions of John Cage. He also incorporates nature sounds of the Mississippi Delta into his mystifying, expressive music.
On first pass, his lyricism is both surprising and workaday, both horny and hilarious — think John Prine, JJ Cale and Mark Knopfler. In his songs, we meet real people of The Delta: the beer-swilling, goofy war vet Buster; the ne’er-do-well nymphet Grocery Sto Feet Girl; the deceased Rosie and Mattie. But there’s a deeper, more cosmic element to it. Also present are philosophers Lao Tzu and Heraclitus — ancients who focused on absence of self, solitude in nature, and the embrace of flux. These themes are all present in Moore’s compositions. One thinks of the mighty river that flows just a half mile from Moore’s backyard, its constant flux. One thinks of the human skull (200+ years old; found on the banks of that mighty river) that Moore keeps in his home studio, and then of the “memento mori” salutation used by the Hermits of St. Paul, monks who also kept skulls on their desks so to always ponder Death. And in that pondering, there was a lust for life — Life! which runs white-hot throughout Moore’s songs.
It is good to know True American Wildasses like Moore are still out there — that in any simple, tiny, decaying American town there remains raw genius to be discovered. Untainted by vanity or reward, these wildasses don’t care whether you do or don’t share the vision. And now, it is very good to be on this flatboat with David Michael Moore, here in the dark edging along the Mississippi, slowly rounding a bend, ready for whatever’s next.
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