MuMu’s Musical Memoirs
I was born into a musical family. Singing family harmonies to the Doobie Brothers in our Hornet Station Wagon on trips, rockin “One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus” on the 8 track player in my grandparents plush Pacer, and bustin a boogie woogie riff on piano at the Baptist Temple, are my first memories of being musical.
I was raised in the hard core ghettos of Greenville, South Carolina. Well, not really. It was actually a pretty nice area of town, but not so nice that I never heard any arguments about whose daddy was whose, or that females can enhance their womanhood by rubbing butter on their breasts. I learned a lot in middle school… maybe not much about math or grammar; but, these were the experiences that inspired some of my greatest hits such as “Too Many Days (attendance office conversation),” “Your Mammy’s Got Worms (bus),” or “I Got Ashy Elbows(locker room).” I enjoyed middle school with a passion. It’s where I met Darren Kirkendal, an original beatboxer, who had the best roto tom and siren sounds ever! We were mouth sound snobs. So much so, we felt like the Fat Boys, who came out when we were in 7th grade, had disrespected the beatbox art form with their lazy, obtuse techniques (I’m cool with The Fat Boys now though, realizing there really is no “right or wrong” when it comes to art- yeah right!.)
It was also during middle school, 6th grade, that I started playing the sax. I asked my dad, who was and is a great guitar player and musician (the two don’t always go together) what kind of instrument was playing the melody in “Baker Street” and he told me “alto sax.” I was sold, and he bought my first horn for me at Dixieland Music. I played in the Hughes Middle band for three years, torturing the uptight, frumpy, no talent, miserable excuse for a human, big flicted head (ok I’ll stop, and I’m not really that angry… it’s just something I needed to say) band director with newly learned high notes. I bailed out of the school band scene forever after my first and last marching band season at Greenville High in 9th grade. From that point on, I learned strictly from vinyl and my old man.
My first stage experience came at the 8th grade talent show. We put together a band and did a butchering of “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” We had a clarinet player playing keyboard bass who got stage fright and couldn’t play the bass line, so after I played a sax solo, I bumped her out of the way and took the bass line to the house on out, locking me in as a three star dual threat from then on. Around that same time, I started jamming with a great drummer and bass player, John Duncan. John was a few years older and his chops were more together than mine (still are), but we had so much fun grooving and laughing together, it set my standard and expectation from then on for what I wanted out of playing music. (A little promo- John, now a great producer who has worked with all kinds of big names, Mark Black, ECPB singer/sax player/producer/what ever the party calls for, and I, are working on a project called The Stonecutters. Our CD will be released later this year.)
In 9th grade I met another drummer, Todd Turner, who later became the drummer of a great band called Blightobody (they, especially Todd, rocked Conan O’brien’s show in the mid 90’s). Todd and I became best friends and eventually became roommates at College of Charleston (Todd’s mother got us matching bedspreads for our dorm room in Wentworth Hall.) But before all that, we started our first band together. Fittingly, we called ourselves The Individuals. Our singer was the great Edwin McCain, although like the rest of us, not so great at the time. My favorite “Individual” moment was when we got paid double to “stop playing immediately!” at The Greenville Club. Playing “Louie Louie“and “You Really Got Me” at a formal Episcopal Church service was a close 2nd.
In 1988, after graduating from Greenville High, I moved to Charleston to attend C of C, and like so many other carpet baggers, never left. My freshmen year, Todd and I saw The Archetypes, a local original band who had a good following and it opened our eyes to the fact that, in Charleston at least, people could be sold on original music. About a year later, I met Robert Thorn, another great drummer and friend for life. He was playing with his cousin Scott Quattlebaum and Bryon Moore in a newly formed three piece called Uncle Mingo. I went with Robert out to Edwin Porter’s practice warehouse, the band hub of the time, and for the next 10 years that was the bulk of my musical life. During that time, Uncle Mingo played with Blues Traveler, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hootie, Edwin McCain, Green Day, Widespread Panic, and The Aquarium Rescue Unit, plus tons of other great bands that unfortunately, most people will never hear of
Well, after giving it a good shot with Uncle Mingo and coming about as close to “making it” as a band can (selling around 100,000 of our own CD’s ourselves), we settled in to semi-retirement. I returned to school and got my degree in Special Education and returned to my place of former glory- middle school. A few years later, a super energetic guy named Jack Tankersley called one evening on the recommendation of Bill Nance (creator of Bilco Amps) and asked if I’d be interested in playing in the East Coast Party Band. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do the “band thing” again, at the time, but after playing with the fellas, and then when the great Mark Black came on board a few weeks later, I was sold. Now days, coming full circle, my old man, Jim Moore, has joined the band, and the ECPB has moved beyond figurative family to me. So for now, and hopefully for a long time to come, you’ll be able to find old MuMu and family (ECPB) rockin around C-town puttin the P(not literally usually) in da party.