Moore Stories
A Brother in Spirit

Interestingly, I attended first grade with our piano man Robert Huston in Waldron, Arkansas. We were school mates through 10th grade when I moved to another town. We lost touch with each other for over 25 years. Robert read an article about the release of my first CD, Central Standard Time in 2001. This led us to rekindle our friendship and to discover that we had both become great fans of Western Swing after we parted ways from school days.
When selecting musicians for my new Mandolin Magic album, I asked Robert to play piano. What a treat to do a recording project with a fellow first grade class member. Not only did he do a fine job on the piano, but Robert, with his resourcefulness and energy, helped me in innumerable ways, not the least of which is just being my friend. An accomplished photographer in his own right, Robert took the close up of my hand playing the mandolin which serves as a unifying icon in the liner pictures.

My Acoustic Resonator Mandolin

It is exciting to see the lights come on and the wheels start turning in the mind of a truly gifted and creative person when you present them with a challenge. Such was the case with luthier Dixie Michelle when I told her of my search for a solution to a problem I kept encountering as a jazz mandolin player.

Several years back, I immersed myself in solid body jazz mandolin playing. More can be read elsewhere on this web site about why I made such a change in direction after years of emphasis on violin. As a mandolin player, I would occasionally find myself in situations where there was either no electricity, or I was not permitted to plug up as per the rules of the jam. Some musical towns, such as Mountain View, AR, actually have local ordinances prohibiting the outdoor use of amplified instruments. In truth, I understand this, and I'm sure that the reasons for it are obvious to any seasoned musician who has been around the jam session block a few times. Because I play a single course 5-string jazz mandolin as opposed to the double course 8-string variety, it is very difficult to be heard in an outdoor jam with four or five guitars, a banjo, dobro, and fiddle, not to mention the added ambient noise of people talking and vehicles passing by.

After taking a look at the few double course 8-string resonator mandolins that are being produced, I theorized that perhaps a single course 5-string version could be designed that might meet my needs. When I shared my idea with Tulsa based
luthier Dixie Michelle
, who happens to be a world renowned expert on the old style National resonator guitar, she said, "let me get to work, and I think I can come up with something". As an experiment, she first modified a cheap metal bodied 8-string resonator mandolin into a 5-string. This did prove to us that the concept would work, though neither of us were pleased with the cheap quality and tinny tone of the instrument. She then set to work building from the ground up, the instrument I now play.

It took us a couple of months to decide on all the dimensions and specs, and Dixie and I very much shared the design process. We ended up using the same 1 and 3/16in. nut width and 13 and 7/8in. scale length as my solid body electric. We used a biscuit style Quarterman cone and Grover 18 to 1 tuners. The round body, ingenious hand rest that doubles as a bridge protector, and the configuration of the 42 sound holes, were all Dixie's design. The instrument has a really loud and robust voice that will cut right through a den of acoustic guitars. Thanks Dixie!

The Making of The Mandolin Magic CD

After having played swing and jazz violin for some 25 years,  I sustained vascular damage to my arms as a result of cancer treatment. I can still fiddle, and though my tone is unimpaired, I become fatigued after about half an hour of playing. I had always been fascinated with the jazz styling of Tiny Moore, and I decided to have an instrument similar to his built for me. This type of 5-string jazz mandolin is tuned exactly the same as the 5string violin I had played for years, but it is much easier to hold, and I can play it all day without getting tired. With its short scale, solid body construction, and high quality humbucker pickups, this instrument produces a robust, round tone that is powerful but very pleasing to the ear. Bob Wills coined the phrase, "Biggest little instrument in the world", to describe Tiny Moore's mandolin. Special thanks is due Jonathan Mann of Joelton, TN., "The Mann Who Built The Manndolin."

At the time I commissioned Jon to build my instrument, I was sick with cancer, and I didn't even know if I would live long enough to play it. He was able to finish it for me in about three months, and I was able to play it during the later stages of chemo and radiation therapies. With much prayer and good medical care I went into remission, and after three years, I am still cancer free.

I had previously done a fiddle album, Central Standard Time, in 2001. As I sat in the treatment room one day hooked up to the IV, I decided I wanted to do an album that would feature the Jazz Mandolin. It turned out that four of the original musicians recruited for the project were cancer survivors including myself.  Sadly, three of the four became ill and could not make our recording date. Even though I ended up being the only cancer survivor on the project, I still view this work as a celebration of life and good music.

This musical adventure proved to have many unexpected twists and turns. I decided early on though, to let things go where they wanted to go, rather than trying to force anything. I can honestly say that I am well pleased with the end result. When our originally selected steel guitar player, Chuck Hayes of Muskogee, OK., found that he could not devote adequate time to the project because of his many duties as president of the Western Swing Music Society of the Southwest, Scotty  up his bar and went to work. When our originally chosen drummer, Dave Holter of Kelso, WA., became ill during his cancer treatments,  Mel Buckner of Tulsa, OK., stepped up with brushes in hand. When our original bassist, Pat Goodbla, also of Kelso, WA., became ill as a result of his chemotherapy, Penny Miller of Mountain View, AR., stepped up with her brand new Eminence acoustic-electric upright. 

Then came the blow that threatened to derail the whole project. When we arrived in Tulsa the afternoon of the day before our recording session, I was informed that Gene Gimble, our intended lead guitarist from Tyler, TX., had suddenly fallen ill. Frantically, we began scouring the Tulsa area for someone to fill Gene's spot.

After numerous phone calls, we found Darrel Magee of Inola, OK. Former professor of music and director of the Hank Thompson School Of Music at Rogers State College in Claremore, OK., Darrel came over to the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Tulsa and practiced the material with us.  Afterwards, we secured a room for him, and with guitar in hand, he went up stairs and stayed up all night studying the chord charts. By the time we walked into Drapp studios the next morning, Darrel was on top of our game. I don't know how to thank him enough.

All of the musicians on this project share a deep abiding love of Western Swing. We also believe that the Great American Songbook can be interpreted beautifully within the genre of Western Swing.  With that in mind, I chose to show case some of my favorite  standards.

Little Axe, Paul's Boogie, and the title cut, Mandolin Magic, are original pieces composed within the past year. A Waltz For Yesterday was co-written with my wife of 25 years, Louella Moore. Not only does Louella have the voice of an angel, but she played a vital role in making this recording a success. I thank her for being in my life, and for letting me be in her's. September rain was written 30 years ago during a difficult time in my life, and I think it captures the essence of a young visually impaired man trying hard to find his way in a confusing and convoluted world. 

It is with pride and humility that we present this collection, and our sincere hope is that it will bring listening pleasure as great as the fun we all had making it.

Swing On!

Paul Moore