The R. Stevie Moore Moment

by Bob Moses
Brooklyn NY, Summer 2008
Late last winter, Don Fleming called and said I had to go to the Knitting Factory. That night. R. Stevie Moore, the fabled father of DIY, was playing with his band for the first time in maybe 15 years. Don had seen the show the night before at Maxwell's in Hoboken, a show organized by his former 1/2 Japanese colleague Jad Fair, also a Stevie collaborator. He was emphatic. I went.

The show at Knitting Factory was fairly fcked up. Stevie's drummer and bass player were stuck in a tunnel from New Jersey. That held all the promise of a busted set. Don jumped onstage to play a little blues harmonica (!), and Stevie kept up the stream of unconsciousness from behind his keyboard. If you're the father of DIY, you're comfortable going it alone after all. When Lee and Chris made it to the club, the set was nearly over, but Don leapt into action. We packed up the band, carried the equipment through a milling crowd, and set up downstairs in the left-over sweatsteam from the rock band we rushed off the stage.

The R. Stevie ensemble got in only four more songs as a full band. But I looked at Don, wide-eyed. Now I got it. The music and performance were powerful, tight, funny, and touching in a pure-pop way. Everything you might expect from a misunderstood-genius support group meeting attended by Brian Wilson, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, and Charles Bukowski. After the show, Don and I shared a beer and pondered how to bring that revelation to a wider audience.

The result? A new Smoke Music Archive release: R. Stevie Moore's first in-studio, full-band recordings. Don recorded 14 tracks at Think Tank in Hoboken with his full band, selecting new material and a few selections from RSM's vast catalogue. We also shot in-studio video interviews and recent performances to accompany the release. Stevie and Don are working now on overdubs and edits, aiming for an early fall release.

We find ourselves in a kind of Stevie moment. He has played to full houses in a month-long residency at Cakeshop, appeared for a live duet recording on public radio WNYC, hobnobbed with international art/music stars David Shrigley and David Byrne, and opened large-venue shows for Dr. Dog. This is his time, and it's high time. We'll be releasing much more RSM material in the next few months, including project updates, new songs and videos, so keep an eye out on Smoke or sign up for our e-mail alerts.