Blues Came to Burgaw
George Herbert Moore
(Lost Gold Records)
George Moore worries about his soul. Playing the blues, he'll tell you gravely, is like writing your own ticket to hell. The real place. Home to the devil.
Moore plays, he insists, because his retirement money simply doesn't meet his needs.
And if his Robert Johnson-esque vision seems removed from time, so, too, does his music. Moore, now 69, lives in rural Burgaw, N.C. (just north of Wilmington). He grew up there, during a crossroads period in blues: when then-young titans like Muddy and the Wolf were starting to draw new players' attentions away from regional stars. Consequently, Moore's playing percolates up from a deep well of influences, from the homegrown Piedmont style of Blind Boy Fuller to the Chicagofied Delta din of his hero, Jimmy Reed.
What keeps Blues Came to Burgaw from collapsing into respectful schizophrenia -- it packs 17 chestnuts by the likes of Waters, Fuller and Reed, and by such lesser-knowns as Buddy Moss, Tampa Red and Guitar Slim -- is Moore's singular personality. Though he's never written a song in his life, Moore inhabits the music he covers like he owns it. His guitar playing is based on the economy of tradition; his singing rings with naked, unassuming charm.
Moore is at his best on the Lightnin' Hopkins numbers ("My Starter Won't Start This Mornin'," "Shotgun Blues") and Reed's "Stop and Think," falling into the songs' rural-folk flavorings and leisurely cadences with a sweet, aged grace.
He doesn't play like a man in fear, or even a man in need. He plays like a man in love. (Lost Gold Records/Frank Greathouse, 26 Central Blvd., Wilmington NC 28401; 910-762-1128).