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Spencer Moore

Born February 7, 1919, in North Carolina into a large family (11 siblings), Spencer Moore fell early under the spell of mountain folk music after hearing records by Charlie Poole, Jimmie Rodgers, and others. Plus, he was fortunate to have as a neighbor the great blind fiddler and singer G.B. Grayson. In his mid-teens Moore mail-ordered a guitar from Sears & Roebuck and by the late '30s he was working as part of a duo with his brother Joe Moore (as the Moore Brothers -- the pair actually played a tent show on the same bill with the legendary Carter Family on one occasion). Following a stint in the military during World War II, Moore settled into the life of a tobacco farmer, although he never stopped learning and playing songs, gigging out locally at house parties and dances. Alan Lomax field recorded him in 1959 as part of his Southern Journey project, at which time Moore was also appearing regularly on the Farm Fun Time radio show out of Bristol. Moore's story as a public musician would have ended there if Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records hadn't attended an exhibition of Lomax's photographs nearly 50 years later and taken notice of a photo of Moore from the 1959 session holding his guitar and singing in front of a spiked tobacco field. Rosenthal tracked Moore down at Moore's home in Chilhowie,VA, and recorded the now 87-year-old musician there on June 20, 2006. Over 70 years after he first picked up a guitar, Moore's debut album, simply called Spencer Moore, was issued by Tompkins Square in 2007. Moore no longer farms tobacco but still plays regularly at local dances and events near his home in Chilhowie, where he is rumored to know 500 to 600 (some say thousands) of folk songs by heart. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi
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