I have some debts to pay and people in my life to give tribute to, and Tiny Moore is one of them and is due his.
According to Wikipedia, Tiny Moore was born, May 12, 1920, in Port Arthur, Texas, a town on the Gulf Coast. He was a Western swing musician who played the electric mandolin and fiddle with Western swing legend Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1940s.” Later, in the 1970s he played in Merle Haggard‘s band, “The Strangers.” He died December 15, 1987. He was also the one of the first musicians in America to play an electric mandolin. But that it is not the stats about Tiny Moore that I want to write about. It is my personal experience of the man himself.
He owned and operated Tiny Moore Music, a music store in Sacramento, CA where he gave music lessons when he wasn’t on the road. I met him in the early 1970s when I decided to take some guitar lessons. He had been giving my kids lessons, and so he was a natural for me to go to.
My experience of Tiny was that he was a kind and generous man. He was a star, but you’d never notice it. What you did notice was that he’d find ways to get you involved and keep you involved in music. He did that with me.
I wanted to learn some finger-picking styles and riffs that I could incorporate into my brand-new hobby of songwriting, and I figured he was a good one to teach me. He was, and I still use many of the licks he taught me in the songs I perform. Actually, the fact that I perform at all is because of Tiny.
The following example I am going to offer will tell all you need to know about Tiny.
Tiny was a member of the Old Time Fiddler’s Association, and he became obsessed with the idea that I had something to contribute to them. first, he invited me to go to a meeting in Roseville, CA. I am not a joiner, but I liked Tiny and so I agreed to go. He told me that I should bring a guitar, and I did but I felt really uncomfortable doing so.
I showed up, guitar in hand, and found a place to sit and watch the “real musicians” do their thing. It was really great–all that old time music and musicians, playing their hearts out. Then Tiny saw me… He came right up to me to me and drug me up on stage with the rest of them. I protested to no avail. He just wouldn’t listen. He told me that my weak, soft, tentative, “pluck/strum” was just what the fiddlers and such needed to keep time and play against.
He was right. He was also right about something else that I knew nothing about. That absolutely terrifying experience of my first performance, gave me the confidence I needed to help me sing my own songs on stage. He also liked my songs and encouraged me to write more, and some of the songs he liked and helped me make better.
He also gave me a model for my own interactions with others as I entered into the music industry–help everyone you can, whenever you can, however you can. My motto is: “I give because I was given to.” The generosity of the heart makes for more generosity, there is no way around it. Even if I am ripped off, I know that if I let it go it will still comes back to me.