American Outlaw Songwriters: Rare Breed

Photo by Jenna Danielle Moore

Growing up with the music of Hank Williams playing from my Mama Madgelee Hanes Moore’s old collection of 78 records (playing around our house on the old Victrola) was without a doubt my first exposure to the craft of songwriting. Even as a  young child who would not take up playing guitar and writing my own music until years later, the timeless lyrics and haunting melodies put forth by “The Hillbilly Shakespeare” set the bar high in my growing love and understanding of music. I didn’t know how or why at the time, but the stories that were being told found an instant connection within me. I was too young to have ever yet experienced the feeling of being heartbroken or lonesome, but when Ol’ Hank sang “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” I instinctively felt those emotions. “I Saw The Light” made me want to get right with the Man and “Hey Good Lookin” was just plain fun as at a very young age I had already developed an eye for the pretty girls in school. It was the songwriting behind those glorious sounds I was hearing that would set me on a life long journey to tell my stories, develop my craft and seek out other like-minded writers who could use their words and music to take me where the beautiful and the bittersweet intermingle with the bawdy and bad ass on the lonely road that travels twixt the heart, mind and soul.

Upon getting my first guitar around age sixteen, I quickly learned my basic G-C-D chords and wrote my first song. It was called “Wild Eyes” and it wasn’t very good at all. Not absolutely dreadful, but I knew I had a long way to go to say the least. I delved into the music and writings of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris  Kristofferson, Harlan Howard and Billy Joe Shaver which led me to discover Townes VanZandt, Steve Earle and John Prine. I was obsessed with the lyrical styling’s of Ronnie Van Zant and his ability to paint a picture in my mind and keep it simple yet full of heart and soul. (Photo on the right by Bobbi Bushman – Budke, Dallas and Jenna Moore with DAC). Eventually, I struck up a friendship with David Allan Coe that has endured for over twenty years now. In that time, I have been exposed to his uncanny ability to write with absolutely no barriers or constraints. DAC has been a huge influence on my writing style for the simple fact that he is free to write whatever the hell he wants regardless of genre. From the 1970’s era classic country ballads such as “Would You Lay With Me In A Field Of Stone” and “I Still Sing The Old Songs” to the raucous and rowdy “Dakota The Dancing Bear,” “Longhaired Redneck” and “Divers Do It Deeper.”  I truly believe David Allan Coe is one of the most prolific and misunderstood songwriters in the American landscape. In recent years, DAC has again crossed the lines between genre’s by collaborating and recording new music with heavy metal heroes Pantera (R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell) as well as Hank III, Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker. His new album set for release in early 2014 chronicles the events that have occurred since he was nearly killed in a severe automobile accident in Ocala, Florida, early in 2013. Since the wreck, DAC has continued to heal from his wounds and once again go to the well and dig deep to bring forth some of the most insightful writing of his storied career. It seems I have more music to soak up on the horizon and it’s good to know I can always count on an old Outlaw to come through with a new batch of tunes to kick the can a little farther down the road. Inspiration NEVER gets old!
It is the power of the pen and the passion of the prose that makes my world go around. I’m always chasing my next tale to tell and hungry for new stories and songs from my heroes and friends. As of late, I have been in the thick of it, playing a series of shows with a perfect storm of legendary songwriting icons, good friends/contemporaries and up and coming, undiscovered writers with new songs to sing. For several months in 2013 there has been a weekly gathering on Thursday nights at The National Underground in Nashville, Tennessee. Billed as The Outlaw Americana Songwriters Showcase, the series was hosted by Brigitte London (whom I originally met in Luckenbach Texas when Brigitte hosted the Pickers Circle where this photo was taken by Jenna Danielle Moore).

 Pictured left to right on the photo below: Josh Morningstar, Billy Don Burns, Robert Wolf, Cley Reynolds, Dallas Moore, Brigitte London, Wayne Mills, Chad Holmes. Photo by Jenna Danielle Moore. National Underground Nashville on Lower Broadway.


I managed to attend once a month from the beginning of the series. Each week brought a different array of writers and some of the highlights included appearances by the legendary Billy Don Burns, Lonesome Liz, Ray Scott, Cley Reynolds, Kara Clark, Chris Moondawg Hall and Joshua Morningstar. There were also occasions where we were entertained by my friends Wayne Mills (R.I.P), Joey Allcorn and J.B. Beverley all who are featured (along with yours truly) in the book OUTLAWS STILL AT LARGE by author Neil Alexander Hamilton. Each and every show found all of the songwriters showcasing their latest and greatest and I can attest to the fact that at least on the nights that these performances took place authentic, well written and honest country music was once again alive and well on Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo by Mary Lee Foote

On Saturday, October 26th 2013, I was honored to play in Altamont, Tennessee at the Outlaws And Icons Benefit Concert For Troy Rector. This event was held in conjunction with the new Outlaw Music Hall of Fame and the initial class of inductees would be announced later that night. Many of my songwriting heroes came from all across the country to gather in the cold mountain air that had set in high up on Chopper Hill. The atmosphere was surreal upon arriving. The good time jams were already in full swing with what has to go down as the greatest guitar pull I’ve ever bared witness to. I wasted no time in catching a seat up front and going to school. Up on that stage lined from end to end were Chris Gantry, Billie Gant, James Austin, Poo-Bah, Tom Ghent, Steve Young and Billy Don Burns. I was literally in hog heaven. With a little help from Jim Beam, Apple Pie and a good fire barrel, I shook off the cold and listened to these great men tell their stories for over two hours. First up was Chris Gantry (who is most notably the subject of Kris Kristofferson’s classic “The Pilgrim”) and let me tell y’all first hand, Mr. Gantry oozes Bad-Assery! His unique play on words and melody set the tone on what can only be described as a clinic in classic songwriting. Next up was my great friend Billie Gant. For those who don’t know already, Billie is the #1 reason I got into playing music all those years ago. He was the first guy on the scene to let me in to the Honky Tonks he was playing back then even though I was only sixteen years old and just starting out. I am so proud of Billie that he is still alive and kickin’ and at the top of his game. He hammered through several of my personal favorites like “No God In Juarez,” “Losin’,” and “The Night I Shot Ol’ Reuben Dixon Down.” Always known as the best entertainer and showman around throughout his long career, it is a beautiful thing to see Billie Gant getting this long overdue recognition as the brilliant songwriter that he is. I co-wrote the song “Outlaw Country” with Billie and also covered his classic “Hot Blooded Mama” on the Dallas Moore Band’s Can’t Tame A Wildcat Album. I admire his work and treasure his friendship so much that in 2014 I will be recording an entire album of songs penned by Billie Gant. I truly believe it’s going to blow your mind!

James Austin and Poo-Bah lightened things up and had us literally laughing ‘til we cried and then Tom Ghent actually had us in tears with his emotional and soft spoken songs about love, loss and gettin’ back home to Mama. Steve Young brought the house down with his timeless classics “Seven Bridges Road” (The Eagles) and “Lonesome Onry and Mean” (Waylon Jennings) and Ol’ Billy Don Burns took us on a bona fide thrill ride “Runnin’ Drugs Out Of Mexico.” Later that evening, there were performances by many other great acts including my Sol Records label mates Pure Grain who debuted new songs from their upcoming album Indiana Sun. These new songs are sure to take Pure Grain to the next level as they have really found their way to a totally unique sound and soulful style of songwriting. As the sun sank low and the temperatures dipped into the 30’s under a full moon, I was called to the stage before my solo set by Sarge (AKA Gary Franklin Sergeant) to accept the Guardian Award from the Outlaw Music Hall Of Fame along with Jamey Johnson, Hank Williams III, Whitey Morgan and Wayne Mills (R.I.P.). The Official Induction Ceremony will take place at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee in Spring 2014. I was honored and humbled to be included in the inaugural class with four guys that I consider both heroes and friends. I am truly a fan of all of their songwriting and consider it a high honor to be in such good company. These are the folks who are inspiring me to write more songs, hone my craft and raise the bar on myself. God bless ’em every one!

  (Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival –pictured left to right is Bo Roberts, Dallas Moore, Freddy Powers & Bobby Keel. Photo by Jenna Danielle Moore). This brings us to the 29th Annual Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival in Perdido Key, Florida/Orange Beach Alabama. Every November, writers come from around the country and all over the world to convene in the sun, surf and sand along the Gulf Coast for two weeks of music, songwriting clinics, late night jams and stellar performances by both platinum selling hit makers and undiscovered diamonds in the rough. This was my fifth year performing at the FBISF and with the exception that it was unseasonably cold (29 degrees on the Redneck Riviera???)I had one of the best times ever. With three sets crammed into just two days, I had to make the most of my time getting to see as many songwriter rounds as I could squeeze in. Due to my heavy tour schedule this year I missed out on some of my favorites who played this year’s festival. I missed my great brother and friend Bobby Keel by just one day! Bobby gave me my first real break into the FBISF five years ago when he caught one of my sets and took me around to several late night, after hours jams and we’ve been fast friends ever since. Bobby has written several platinum selling songs including my personal favorites “Time Off For Bad Behavior” (David Allan Coe/Confederate Railroad) and “Whiskey On Ice, Women On Fire” (Hank Williams Jr.). I also hated missing Dean Dillon, recipient of the 2013 BMI ICON AWARD and songwriter of 54 #1 hits for King George Strait and the George Jones/David Allan Coe classic “Tennessee Whiskey.”

Legends like Freddy Powers “The King Of Country Jazz” and Bo Roberts (“Mr. Could Ya” & “Ten With A Two”) were in attendance along with Chris Newberry (son of the late, great Mickey Newbury), Karen E. Reynolds (host of The Writers Block) and Sonny Throckmorton (“The Way I Am,” “Rednecks, White Socks, Blue Ribbon Beer.”) I did get to see a round featuring C.W. Colt paying tribute to Freddie Powers with an emotional and powerful renderin’ of “Natural High” along with Mark Sherrill and his original take on “Ol’ Red” which was recorded by Johnny Cash, George Jones and Hoyt Axton long before Blake Shelton got around to it. Hearing the songs from their original creator is nothing short of magical and Mark’s version of “Ol’ Red” is hands down my favorite! T- Bone Montgomery brought his brand of Beachbilly Blues and Honky Tonk to the Bama Dome Stage and showed why he just scored a new publishing deal in Nashville and Mickey Springston wowed ’em with music he wrote on one of Eric Clapton’s personal guitars at the Crossroads Recovery Center in Antigua. Once again, inspiration NEVER gets old!

Wayne Mills, Dallas Moore, Kyle Wilson. Photo by Jenna Danielle Moore.

During my two days at the festival, I performed sets with Wayne Mills (our last time onstage together before Wayne was tragically killed- see postscript below), Kyle Wilson, and Johnny Barbato in addition to my own solo set. This festival always rejuvenates my songwriting soul and I come away with great memories in my heart and new music on my mind. If you are a songwriter or just a fan of good music, played by the men and women who create it I urge you to visit the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival next year. It will be the 30th Anniversary and I know I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

There are so many songwriters, so many songs and so much good music out there for y’all to discover. Some of my favorite writers that are bringing us a whole new crop of righteous jams are Pure Grain, Kyle Wilson, Justin Wells of Fifth On The Floor, Taylor Shannon, Jason Ritchie, J.B. Beverley, Brigitte London and Wyatt McCubbin. They all have new music available either right now or in early 2014. Do a little digging and discover the talent that is out there. There’s always one more story to tell for that Rare Breed of American Outlaw Songwriter who is willing to lay it all on the line and be totally stripped down, pouring their heart out  to get to the listener and take them on a journey to the depths of their soul. It ain’t about the glory, the fame or the money. In the end, it is only about the song. For it is the SONG that will outlive the WRITER every time.

See Ya Down The Road….

Dallas Moore

• Writers Note – This article was written and to be submitted as my November 2013 piece for Outlaw Magazine. I completed the article just three days before my brother and friend Wayne Mills was shot and killed by a club owner, Chris Ferrell, in Nashville, Tennessee on November 23rd, 2013. Chris Ferrell is now awaiting charges on 2nd degree murder. Wayne is mentioned and or referenced several times throughout this article and I will forever cherish my memories of him written within. My apologies for the delay in the piece.

 

 

Dallas Moore is an Outlaw Country singer, songwriter and entertainer. He has penned the # 1 songs “Crazy Again” (featuring Jody Payne) and “Blessed Be The Bad Ones” and performs over 300 tour dates per year with The Dallas Moore Band. Dallas is also profiled in the book OUTLAWS STILL AT LARGE and his music is a fixture on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s OUTLAW COUNTRY, Channel 60. He currently resides in the South-Western Ohio countryside with his wife, Jenna Danielle Moore and dogs, Johnny Cash and Belle Starr. Visit DallasMoore.com and add him on Facebook.