By Pete Zamplas-Moe’s Original Bar B Que is mixing spicy acoustic music with its usual tangy barbecue, once a month in a light music series co-sponsored with WTZQ-AM 1600.
Moe’s, across from the Historic Courthouse at 114 N. Main in Hendersonville, hold the WTZQ singer-songwriter showcase on the third Thursday night of each month in their upstairs. Moe’s local owners Dave and Suzanne Rice said they may hold it more often in warmer months. The series began last August, promoting eclectic Americana roots acoustic original artists. Each show is 7-8 p.m.
Series host Terry Wetton tapes the monthly session. He plays it as his next Local Artist Showcase weekly show, aired 5-6 p.m. Fridays on AM 1600.
Next at Moe’s, on March 20, is Danny Ellis. Now living in Asheville, he helped headline the 16th annual Best of Our State (magazine) gala at the Grove Park Inn in January. He has written cathartic, riveting songs and a CD (800 Voices) on his growing up in a brutal, crowded orphanage in Ireland.
Ellis was Lyricist of the Year in 2009 and won Lyric of the Year for his song “Tommy Bonner,” in major independent music awards from Just Plain Folks. Folk musician David Wilcox praises Ellis’ “heartfelt perspective” and “healing” musical stories. Rock hall-of-famer Bonnie Raitt remarked “Danny’s music ‘slays’ me. He has one of the best ‘live’ voices I’ve ever heard.”
Most WTZQ series performers are based in Hendersonville, but come from various places. Last Thursday, Feb. 20, Louisville, Ky. native Carrie Morrison delighted a crowd of about 30 with her resonant vocals and keyboard play. Her pop-folk songs included from her latest CD, Carolina Blonde produced by Wetton.
Morrison teaches in East Henderson High School. She said it was “absolutely exciting” to be in the showcase for local singer-songwriters, and to make a “personal connection” with the crowd in the small venue. Patrons were impressed with her passionate vocals and clever lyrics, as well as with the venue’s fine acoustics. Doug MacDonald considers it a rustic, mini concert hall.
The crowd included Steve Whiteside, Bill Altman, Wetton and Gary Segal. They each have performed there; many when it was the Blue Note Grille for blues and jazz. As Moe’s, there is more space between tables upstairs, also a quieter sound to fit a new city code. Whiteside said there is “enough soft surfaces to absorb reflective sound,” like baffles, for better sound quality.
Singer Carrie Morrison
The musicians lauded how attentive the crowds are, in a true “listening room” with focus on the performer. Wetton tells the crowd in advance the session will be taped. “Everyone is phenomenally respectful and quiet,” Segal said. He said in pubs, “most of the time people are chatting or watching a TV when you play.” He said Moe’s and WTZQ are “super supportive” of singer-songwriters, joining forces to pay performers in the series. “It’s a good-paying gig. And there’s no cover, to hear it.”
Moe’s was founded by three buddies then at the University of Alabama. They moved to Colorado, and started the franchise there. Moe’s is in nine states, mainly with 13 restaurants in Alabama and nine in Colorado. There is one in Charlotte. The Rices have owned the Moe’s just outside Biltmore Village since 2010. They opened a Moe’s in spring 2013 in Hendersonville, in what once was the premier cafe Expressions. The upstairs back room holds banquets and other events.
Dave, a Colorado native, was with Moe’s in Alabama. He is a main chef in his Moe’s, and chief server upstairs during showcases which he considers a fun cap to the end of long workdays. “I’ve been working in a kitchen all of my life,” he quipped of his experience.
Suzanne, a native South Carolinian, helps tend bar on busier nights. “I love it here,” she said of showcase nights. “It’s cozy, to listen to music while eating.” Dave said there is a mix of people eating upstairs during the show, and others who first dine downstairs then come up for drinks and the free show.
Moe’s features pulled pork, ribs, wings, turkey and chicken smoked over hardwood as well as fried catfish and shrimp “Moe Boy” (po’ boy) sandwhich. Dave describes the award-winning Bama-style BBQ flavor as “more of a tang” from vinegar and mustard. “Delicious” is how Cassie Torres, among others, describes it. There are gluten-free meals.
For more on Moe’s, call 595-9200 in Hendersonville or 505-8282 in Asheville (at 4 Sweeten Creek Rd.). Or, check www.moesorginalbbq.com. For more on the monthly musical showcase at Moe’s, call Terry Wetton at WTZQ at 692-1600.