Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check.
Grammy winner. Check.
Major inspiration for the Blues Brothers. Check.
Valley resident. Check.
Sam Moore is almost 80 years old. He's an original "Soul Man," one of the best tenors the music biz has ever seen or heard, and you can spend your New Year's Eve with him at Talking Stick Resort listening to the hits he helped turn into classics. Moore is also a sheer delight to talk to, reeling you in with his charm and occasional self-deprecation. You listen to him and he makes it so easy to forget that he is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. He just sounds like your Uncle Sam (no pun intended), and you just need to sit back and listen while he tells you about what he's been up to this year.
"I'm singing now," states Moore. "I'm not looking for that high note. If it comes, it comes. If not, I can adjust to it. Hopefully, the people who come see me think, 'now he can sing.'"
Moore has been busy this year, with one invite after another to do tributes to other artists. After doing many of these, he had a revelation.
"Every one I've been singing with, there has been a different vocal style. I thought, 'Go back to what got you there, Sam.' I am more interested in entertaining. Telling stories."
When we asked him about his upcoming show, his voice dripped with a mixture of enthusiasm and gratitude.
"I tell you...I would like to say it's going to be pretty wild. The fans....I hope they, the fans or the audience, can walk away saying they have been entertained. Like the old days, walk away whistling or singing the songs they just heard and saying, 'Boy, I feel better than I did when I first came in,'" shared Moore. When you have as many hit songs under your belt as Moore, it's not difficult to imagine fans, new and old, walking away from one of his shows with a smile on their face.
Obviously "Soul Man," which was penned by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, is the most well-known song Moore will likely be belting out on December 31, but it is only the beginning. "I Thank You," "Hold On, I'm Comin,'" and "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," are some of the other great hits Moore cranked out when he was partnered with the late Dave Prater as the iconic duo, Sam and Dave. These are also fair game on Wednesday night when Moore takes the stage with his band.
"I've had the same band for about 11 years. You know how musicians are, they come and go, but these guys, the rhythm section has been the same for the last five years. The horn players, they come and go, but those horn players, they have to keep going all the time. It's not like the old days where they get paid half their salary when they are home," according to Moore, whose band members preside primarily in New York.
Moore attempted to put together a locally based band when he moved to Phoenix almost 30 years ago.
"I know when I first came out as a solo artist, I would try to put a band together, but I didn't work that much as a solo artist, so a lot of guys have families and have to make a living and didn't want to do 10 days on and five years off," said Moore. He added, "Today, musicians, if they are not working, they are not getting paid. They have to find other gigs and other work to do."
Moore has certainly remained busy, though, since he and Prater officially ended Sam and Dave in 1981. He has collaborated with other musical royalty and been a major player on the tribute scene as of late. Moore's latest work with the blue grass band Nu Blu and their tribute song for George Jones, "Jesus and Jones" has made the television rounds this year.
Never afraid to stretch his musical wings and collaborate, Moore has recorded with a very diverse group of artists. Moore teamed with the late Conway Twitty in 1994 on "A Rainy Night in Georgia" which was Twitty's last recording, and then with Lou Reed on a 1996 rendition of "Soul Man." Much more recently, Moore jammed with members of the Stax Academy in Memphis at the Isaac Hayes School of Music. "It was good...I really enjoyed doing it," shared Moore.
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