Matt Moore, who will perform at the Wednesday Night Acoustic Showcase in the Front Room Coffee House on September 5. (Collage by Matt Moore)

Living Artfully, Crafting Song, and Bringing Athens With You: Speaking With Matt Moore

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In 2015, Matt Moore released First Songs, a 20-tune collection produced by Josh Antonuccio at 3 Elliott Studios featuring a laundry list of Athenian musical patriarchs, among them Jake Householder, Ricky Chilcott, and Bruce Dalzell — who also just booked Moore for a Wednesday Night Acoustic Showcase at the Front Room on Wednesday, September 5.

“I’m excited to play the Front Room, it has been a long time since I have been there,” said Moore in an interview with WOUB just a day before his performance. Moore’s set is being billed as an acoustic one, a description he said he wasn’t entirely aware of when agreeing to play the show.

Matt Moore performing in Wheeling, West Virginia in 2015. (Submitted)

“After having recently moved up to Cleveland, and playing shows up here, it’s been a total shift for me,” said Moore, “Cleveland is a rock ‘n’ roll city, and every time I walk into a bar to play a show by myself, it feels a little like taming a lion with a chair – pointing this chair at this lion that I feel like I need to win over somehow, which is extremely fun and challenging, and my sound has really been informed by that dynamically.”

Moore moved to Cleveland Heights (which he referred to as “the most Athens-y part of Cleveland,”) after marrying the woman he was dating throughout the time he was writing and recording music of First Songs, and he considers marriage to be yet another space to practice what he calls “artful living.”

“I kind of have an odd perspective on art in general (…) and for me, I think that it is really about living an artful life, and taking advantage of the opportunities that are everywhere to make things more beautiful,” he said. “I feel like there is an artful way to be a husband, to being a creative, loving person, and being really thoughtful and full of care in everything that you do. I feel like anything can be an artistic endeavor, even looking at new ways to bring communities together, or anything that allows you to apply creativity and new thought.”

A 2017 self portrait that Matt Moore took near Lake Erie, OH. (Submitted)

Although Moore lives with his wife in Cleveland Heights, he says that he continues to work near Athens County and near Wheeling, West Virginia (where he was born).

“Because I fell in love I’m learning to do city life, because my wife is from up here, but all of the place I have lived and worked have been pretty fun, although they do feel worlds apart,” he said. “But now I’m learning about all of them, and they’re all just really three places on the east side of Ohio, and that’s big enough for me.”

If listeners are lucky on Wednesday night, Moore may perform “Girl of My Dreams,” achingly melancholy number from his 2015 release.

“I wrote that one as I was wrapping up college, which I had spent studying mostly business, marketing,” said Moore. “All my classmates were heading to New York and Charlotte to get jobs, but I was a small town kid who liked small town things, so I decided to intern for Good Works.”

Good Works has been mighty force in the non-profit world in Athens for 37 years, serving the community with resources that feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.

A self portrait that Matt Moore took in the artificial flower aisle of a Wal-Mart in California. (Submitted)

“When I graduated I decided that the best thing I could do was to learn what Good Works was about, so I lived there in one of the homes for folks without homes, and much of the work that I did was with kids and teenagers,” said Moore.

Moore spent substantial time with brothers whose father had long since left their life and whose mother had recently been imprisoned, arrested as the youngest brother was leaving school and his mother was picking him up.

“Strangely enough a part of my work at Good Works was just to be a friend to these kids, and that song (“Girl of My Dreams”) was about entering that friendship, with people who look like me and who come from a similar town as I did, but who were going through a different part of life than I ever had,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’m falling in love with my girlfriend at the time, who would be the woman that I would go onto marry – and I’m falling in love, which is one of the coolest experiences one can have in life. That song, to me, is very much about processing the good with the bad, about observing these two strange seasons of life together. For me, the song was a way to understand what was happening and not get too stressed out – just do what I need to do every day.”