1 February, 2019 (Sligo, Ireland) The late singer-songwriter Thom Moore, bard of the INF Treaty, local hero to the town of Sligo and its incredible music scene, was honored at a concert here tonight, appropriately titled “The Thom Moore Song Book.”
Hawks Well Theater was SRO for the event, which saw 400 fans enjoying Ireland’s top musicians passionately rendering Thom’s work. The show opened with Seamie O’Dowd, Thom’s longtime friend, collaborator and the concert’s organizer, performing the beloved and often covered Carolina Rua, accompanied by Kieran Quinn on piano and Ken McDonald on percussion.
Though the predominant hair color of audience members was grey (if they had any at all), the golden tresses of Thom’s wife Lyuba, along with his step-son Stan’s neat coiffure, offered a promising counterpoint.
But the scene on stage was multigenerational. Legends like Cathy Jordan, Rick Epping, Eleanor Shanley, Midnight Well bandmate Gerry O’Beirne, Gino Lupari, Donal McLynn and Gerry Grennan were joined by a cadre of younger musicians – master stage-hand and fiddler Marie O’Byrne, with fellow string performers Jessie Solange Whitehead, Anna Houston, Niamh Crowley, and Sarah Crummy on piano. Seamie’s son Stephen and Gerry’s daughter Aoife augmented the family atmosphere.
In case the concert itself didn’t bury any doubts Thom expressed about the durability of his work, the celebration of his legacy continued post-concert at McLynn’s pub, where Thom’s first public appearance in Sligo occurred nearly four decades earlier.
In magical defiance of the laws of physics, the 20+ members of the ensemble and (it seemed) four hundred fans stuffed themselves into two rooms at McLynn’s (total square meters < fifty), occupying all nooks, crannies and floor space. The pub’s management had wisely installed a direct pipeline to the Guinness brewery in Dublin, keeping the throng supplied until it finally dispersed in the wee hours.
Moving to Ireland in 1971, Thom Moore had a deep-rooted relationship with Sligo, and spent much of the last three decades in the county so dear to his heart. Settling near the town together with his first wife Kathy, in the early Seventies he formed the folk-rock band Pumpkinhead with fellow Americans Sandi and Rick Epping.
Pumpkinhead split up in 1976 and Moore formed Midnight Well with Janie Cribbs, Gerry O’Beirne and Mairtín O’Connor. Moore earned considerable praise for his song writing on numbers like ‘Still Believing,’ ‘Saw You Running’ and ‘Jessie’s Friend.’
His stint as a translator on the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (itself soon to be buried), in Votkinsk, Russia – the town that gave birth to Tchaikovsky – was the genesis for the next bloom of his heart and his music.
There he met Lyuba and wrote many of the songs that would appear on his later solo albums – Dreamer in Russia and Gorgeous & Bright.
Thom passed away after a long illness on St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March, 2018.