Tag Archives: Warsaw

Bill Moore – Tidewater Musician

Both Warsaw and Tappahannock can claim a little piece of Bill Moore’s fame.

Born in Georgia, William “Bill” Moore was a barber and farmer in Tappahannock, although he also worked across the Rappahannock River in Warsaw in Richmond County.

The following biography by Eugene Chadbourne gives a good look into the life and career of Bill Moore.

Bill Moore
Bill Moore

Half of the recordings done by this artist may have gone the way of Jimmy Hoffa’s corpse, but the eight tracks that were released in the late ’20s and subsequently reissued time and time again easily maintain the reputation of William “Bill” Moore as an elite country blues multi-instrumentalist in the elaborate syncopated East Coast blues or Piedmont blues style. There is also a blues conspiracy theory in which two different people named William Moore actually created the body of work more often attributed to one, yet even in this case the instrumental dexterity of half of them is never questioned.

Historic marker in Tappahannock, VA
Historic marker in Tappahannock, VA

In the ’20s and ’30s, many commercial record labels looked for country blues and classic blues artists to make recordings with. Representation was light on the southeastern seaboard in comparison with other areas of the nation such as Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta. Moore hailed from the so-called tidewater area of Tappahannock, VA, and was enlisted by Paramount in 1928, the project involving his traveling to Chicago in a frozen and frosted January for a single recording session. This event stood in contrast to Moore‘s normal life; he ran several barbershops, the inspiration for his brilliant “Barbershop Rag,” and also made some income as a farmer.

Moore made the most out of his face-off with a microphone: even the most dogmatic of Delta blues devotees will admit that his music is an instance where it is actually worthwhile moving the phonograph out of the cotton fields. Like his contemporaries in the Deep South, Moore‘s performing circuit consisted of events such as house parties, fish fries, and community dances, his repertoire a mixture of traditional songs and ragtime material. Some of the music he performed came out of the minstrel scene, including a pair of ditties written by Irving Jones, a late-19th century black composer and entertainer. Moore‘s abilities on piano, guitar, and fiddle were impressive.

Moore relocated to Warrenton, VA, following the Second World War, remaining there until he died of a heart attack in the early ’50s.

Sherwood Cemetery is the local spot for blues fans to pay their respect to the artist whose initial series of 78s was released first under the name of William Moore, then Bill Moore. This detail along with concerns about vocal styles and what might be simple bookkeeping errors — one of the recorded titles was copyrighted under the names Moore and Williams rather than just plain William Moore — all gave rise to the theory that these were two, two, bluesmen in one.

Ragtime CrazyOnly a collection released by Document entitled Ragtime Blues Guitar (1927-1930) contains all the existing material attributed to Moore. On this and all other sets featuring his material, tracks by similar stylists are also featured, including Blind Blake, one of Moore‘s major influences. Minneapolis traditional blues performer Dave “Snaker” Ray recorded a piece entitled “Rappahannock” for which Moore receives songwriting credit; it is actually a reworking of motifs from Moore‘s recordings, but is not actually one of the titles originally released under his name.

To purchase and download the songs of Bill Moore, visit this link:  http://www.folkways.si.edu/virginia-traditions-tidewater-blues/african-american-folk/music/album/smithsonian

“Intern”pretations – Episode 2: Bri

bri basile interned at menokin for six weeks this summer. today is her last day! she was raised in the suburbs of philadelphia, and is a rising sophomore at PENN STATE, pursuing a degree in architectural engineering. 


Reflection No. 1

Bri“It is the middle of June and I am in the middle of my travel back in time for the summer. Well not really, but life has definitely been a little different for the past couple of weeks. I am what you could call a true Yankee. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Allentown, Pennsylvania and now study at Penn State. Yes, I have traveled to many different places, but I have never lived outside of Pennsylvania and am now in Warsaw, Virginia.

Warsaw is a small town surrounded by countless beautiful farms and old, 18th century houses, which is exactly what brought me here. For the summer I am interning at the wonderful Menokin Foundation, which brings my interests of history, architecture, and engineering all together. Their plan is to build a glass house around the colonial house, to help stabilize and showcase what the house originally looked like. I find it fascinating how they plan to combine the modern glass structure with the old brick house. I know from looking at the models and plans that it will be truly and piece of artwork once it is completed.

If there is anything I learned from my first few days was that I will have to come back during and after construction of the final project. ”

Reflection No. 2

“When Alice asked me if I wanted to go kayaking with couple of people from the National Park Service I expected to kayak for a half hour to forty-five minutes not for four and a half hours. Even though it was a really long time and I had sore arms for about a week, it was completely worth it!

Cat Point Creek is really a place that has not been touched by humans and you can truly become one with nature. Even on the slightly cloudy day I watched eagles and other birds fly across the sky and fish jumping out of the water. Not only did the animals fascinate me, but also the bright flowering plants all along the sides.

I could definitely spend weeks just paddling along and taking pictures of everything I saw and would encourage you to do the same as long as you promised not to destroy the true treasure it is.”

Bri has been learning how to use and edit footage from a Go Pro camera. This little video was shot on her marathon kayaking excursion on Cat Point Creek.