I had met Josh Moore on a couple of occasions. This was not the first. This was, however, our first conversation on sober ground, during the day, while most in the live music scene sleep.
We met outside his downtown apartment, and he quickly took me up to where his living quarters and office are. He wanted the interview to take place in his room (not trying to make him sound like a sleaze ball, 'cause his room is also his office). But Mad Mode preferred for the interview to take place in the living room. He had three large paintings on his walls, one done by local artist Catherine Zelski, one other by local artist/musician Tim Conley (of the Fuzzy Sprouts), and the final painting was a Scramble Campbell painting of String Cheese Incident.
MM: Hi Josh, haven’t seen you since the time you gave me NRBQ’s leftover beer, trying to pick me up. How have you been since? Has that trick been working for you lately?
JM: Um, nice first question Mad. Uh, no, that trick hasn’t worked. I wasn’t trying to pick you up. I just didn’t feel like lugging all those leftover beers up to my apartment.
By D. Wayner
MM: Sure, sure, save the confessional for the father. You and I both know what was going on in your head that night: give the young lady all this beer; she’ll surely be impressed. Ain’t happening with me.
JM: I’m not saying your not good looking, but I wasn’t trying to-
MM: Yeah, yeah, yeah... anyway, I wanted to start off by getting some basic background on you Josh Moore, founder, owner, and everyday operation manager of JoMo Entertainment (the active Athens and Atlanta, GA music promotion company). Where did you grow up?
JM: I grew up in Richmond, VA.
MM: At what point in your life, did live music become an interest to you?
JM: Probably somewhere around like sixteen, seventeen years old... started to go see shows in Richmond, Flood Zone.
MM: What’s that?
JM: It’s a venue. It’s called the Flood Zone, similar to the Georgia Theater.
MM: What kind of bands did you see there?
JM: Started off, mostly seeing Dave Matthews Band, then we got into a lot of the bands that were opening up for Dave, and Dave was playing with in other places. So that style of music, kind of the college rock you know, I’d kind of say it was the Aware compilation music. These bands were on these Aware compilations that we were really into.
By D. Wayner
MM: When did you arrive in Athens?
JM: I came down here for college when I was eighteen years old.
MM: And what brought you down here for college? You are about two years younger than me; I mean four years younger than me. So you arrived in '95. There were some good bands playing round here then.
JM: Damn Madeline. You’re 29? You look really, really good for 29.
MM: I know. Anyway, back to the question.
JM: Yeah, there was some great music here then. When I came to visit, there was so much music going on, and you know, this frat was trying to take me to these parties and stuff, and I just wanted to go see music. I came to visit before I decided to go here, and there was just so much music here, you know, I just had to go to school here. A lot of my favorite bands were from here, like Allgood, and Widespread Panic, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Catfish Jenkins, bands like that.
MM: How’d you get yourself into the business?
JM: My cousin John Moore was friends with a couple people down here in Athens that worked with bands. They were booking agents, and you know I think one time when I went home for thanksgiving, my cousin John was like, "You gotta call my friends Mike and Nadia, they have a company called Madison House." And I called them, and started working for them.
My cousin was friends with these cats, so I went and met with them, and you know we just hit it off great. Me and the guy Mike [Luba] had a lot in common, he was from Virginia Beach, and was into a lot of the same bands, and Nadia was just super cool. And we hit it off the first time we met.
MM: Madison house, they’re the ones that manage String Cheese Incident, and...
JM: Yeah, at the time they were booking String Cheese Incident, Galactic, Jazz Mandolin Project, Belizbeha, Guster, Col. Bruce Hampton, a few other bands, they were just booking agents at that point. That was about my sophomore year, I started interning for them.
MM: How’d you develop that into having your own business?
JM: I worked for them a stupid amount of time. Just a like a crazy amount I put in there.
MM: A stupid amount?
JM: Not stupid as in it was a bad idea, as in a lot of time I spent there, probably 40 hours a week, if not more - for free - just kind of hanging around Luba and Nadia and getting to know them, just seeing how they do business and how they work, and they decided to move to Colorado once String Cheese Incident got big. They were going to start managing them, and they wanted to be based out of Boulder to be with the band. I was still in school at the time, so I took what I had been learning through working for them, which was basically selling bands to buyers, like what I do now. So I spoke to a lot of buyers, and when they moved I was like, I’m gonna try to do this until I’m done with school, and then when I am done with school I’ll move out there. But that didn’t happen.
MM: So you got so wound up in everything down here?
JM: Yeah, I enjoyed this.
MM: I notice that a good bit of the talent you bring into town could be considered "jambands." You don’t need Mad Modeliste to tell you this, but the three biggest groups of these kinds of fans are Deadheads, Phishheads and Spreadfreaks. At any time in your life would you consider yourself a Deadhead?
JM: Um, no I never considered myself a Deadhead, I was a huge fan of the Grateful Dead when I was in high school, but I was probably too young to like drop what I was doing to go to a bunch of Dead shows. I did go to a lot, but I only missed school maybe two or three times for Dead shows.
MM: How 'bout Phishhead?
JM: I definitely did a Phish tour once or twice in my day, like every show on a tour, but I wouldn’t consider myself a Phishhead, I definitely went through a hippie stage. There was a point in my life where I considered myself a hippie. And I think that worked into the Phishhead stage.
By Robert Down
MM: So if you broke your knee, you would have gone on Phish tour anyway?
JM: Yeah, I probably would have done something like that. Probably would have sacrificed a leg for a Phish show.
MM: What about Widespread Panic?
JM: Um, same thing, I wouldn’t consider myself a Spreadhead, but I’m sure there were plenty of people that would have considered me one. Spent a lot of time and money at shows.
MM: Still in debt to Widespread, huh?
JM: Yeah I’m still into everything. That’s where my roots are.
MM: Of all the artists you booked, which left you with the most interesting experiences?
JM: Oh, Lee "Scratch" Perry, definitely, and then probably Biz Markie also.
MM: Why Lee Scratch Perry? What were the kinds of things that went on?
JM: Oh God, That was just like a freak show. So much weird stuff happened. You know when I was hanging out with him, I had to pick him up from the airport and drove him around all day, and the day of the show, and the next day I drove him back to the airport. And hung out with him during the day, it’s just, in that time period, probably twenty-four hours; I saw some of the weirdest stuff that if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.
MM: Now you have to tell us.
JM: Um, I mean he asked me to take him to the grocery store, at one point, and I did, and he walks in, and got maybe 40 bottles of baby oil. He’s a little guy, and he was just like carrying around these... I mean, just more baby oil than you could possibly imagine ever needing. I mean, enough to fill a grocery cart, but he was carrying it around. And I have no idea what he was going to do with it, but he went in there with that mission to buy it.
MM: Tell us more Lee Scratch Perry stories.
JM: I had him in the back of my car. And I started smelling some fumes or something, and I turn around, and he’s just super gluing stuff all over his body, all over his face and clothes, and shoes, everything from CDs to quarters, you know, anything he could find he was gluing all over himself, dollar bills...
MM: What about Biz Markie?
JM: Um, Biz Markie, I put him in a little... you know, less-than-five-star hotel, if you want to say, and he had a limo pick him up from the airport and drive him to this hotel, and when he got to the hotel it wasn’t good enough for him, so he called me up on my cell phone and was like, "You need to come get me, I’m not staying here." So I went and picked him up, and I was on my way to take him to another hotel, he was like, "I’m hungry, can you take me to Red Lobster?" So I said sure, and I walk in, and of course all the waitresses knew him, they were all hugging him and everyone was yelling, "We love the Biz, everybody loves the Biz."
MM: I get that treatment at a few Athenian places I dine at.
JM: That I don’t doubt. Anyway, Biz sits down and he orders enough food for easily twenty people. You know, just lobsters and crab legs, and fried shrimp and seafood platters, and salads and biscuits and Cokes. I mean just more food, like if you and I went out with our fifteen closest friends we wouldn’t order that much food.
MM: I already told you no to a dinner date. And now you are trying to bring our friends in on the date that will never happen to begin with?
JM: Sorry Mad, thought that might work. Anyway, the Biz ate all that food by himself, I mean appetizers, calamari, everything, and then I took him to the mall, he wanted to go to the mall, I don’t remember how many pairs of shoes he bought, but a bunch.
MM: Was this all on your account? Was this all JoMo’s?
JM: I bought him the food at Red Lobster. I think they gave him a good deal 'cause it was Biz Markie, and they were having as much fun watching him eat it as I was. The shoes and stuff, and everything he bought at the mall, he bought on his own.
MM: Damn boy. Can’t even buy the Biz a pair of shoes? When I come back to town for my tour you better damn well be buying me shoes.
JM: Well, duh. Of course for you, Madeline.
MM: Just making sure. All right, switching modes from Mad Mode’s shoes to people that don’t wear no shoes. Having worked with SCI and Keller Williams, now I know why they have made references to you during some songs at shows in Athens. What was your reaction when you realized that SCI was singing; "JoMo rising" instead of "MoJo rising"?
By C. Taylor Crothers
JM: Um, I was psyched, it was great. That show itself was definitely one of the highlights of my career so far, just because we put in a lot of time decorating and just thinking of special stuff to do.
MM: Was it Halloween?
JM: No, it was just a regular show at the Georgia Theatre.
MM: Do you remember the date or the year?
JM: No, I don’t remember, but I remember they were playing big venues everywhere else, I think the next two nights they were doing two nights at The Tabernacle, which were sold out. And they kind of did this as a favor. You know, put in this little show, so we put a lot of money, time and ideas into it. And that was just a great way to end the night. And still every day, not everyday, but all the time, people are bringing me tapes of it, saying, "Have you heard this? JoMo rising."
MM: Which brings me to another question. Do you listen often to your shows? Live recordings of your shows? Or how often do you get around to listening to them?
JM: No, I usually don’t, I like to listen to new stuff. I try to always listen, I enjoy listening to stuff I never heard before, so...
MM: And back to that other thing with Keller. When he replaced Kyle’s name with your name on Tenacious D's... what’s the name of that song?
JM: [laughs] "With Karate I’ll Kick Your Ass." That was awesome.
MM: Yeah, so what was your reaction to that?
JM: I thought that was funny, 'cause I am a huge Tenacious D fan.
At this point in the interview, Josh had incoming phone calls, some of which his intern could not handle by himself, so the interview went on pause while Josh Moore became JoMo, and worked his promoting magic on the phone. Given this time, one would think that the first couple questions that I would ask when he got back would be the wisest, most thought-out, deep questions of the whole interview. Instead, I went dumb on him.
By D. Wayner
MM: What was the dumbest thing you saw someone do at one of your shows?
JM: Shit, that’s tough, let me think for a second... there have been so many dumb things; I am kind of stumped right now. Um, I saw this guy try to sneak in bottles of beer... Dumbest thing? I mean I’m having trouble thinking of one particular dumb thing. There are always so many people insanely drunk acting dumb, but um, I have people that always try to tell me that they work with the band or they are the tour manager, always trying to get backstage or get in for free.
MM: When they are obviously not, because you know the tour manager?
MM: The smartest thing that anyone’s ever done?
JM: [long pause]
MM: Get there early to get good balcony seats?
JM: It’s definitely smart to get there early, but to me the smartest thing to do is to buy your tickets in advance, but that’s just me.
By D. Wayner
MM: Obviously, not all your shows are for hippies; you also have shows for country music folks, hip-hop heads and townies. For the sake of the folks that don’t live in Athens, would you describe what "townie" means?
JM: Um, a "townie" is someone who has lived in Athens for a long time, and doesn’t go to school here, and uh... there’s a lot of stereotypes that go with that. But, you know Madeline; you're somewhat of a townie yourself.
MM: Do you want this interview to be over!? I will just get up and leave if you don’t watch yourself. I am not a townie; I am a unique individual that happens to be drop dead Go-jess. I fall into no category but my own. I do hang with townies though.
JM: You know townies are snobs when it comes to music, stereotypically speaking.
MM: Yes, they like what’s not popular. Except, to their own circle in town.
JM: A mutual friend of ours used to say that townies dress in anything that is old school, is that still true?
MM: Yeah, I mean, they're not shopping at the Gap, they definitely go to vintage clothing stores and places like that. I recently went to a Three Dog Night show of yours in Atlanta, and --
JM: That wasn’t my show.
MM: Yeah, it was.
JM: No, I think I would know if it was my show or not.
At this point, Josh is becoming very difficult.
By D. Wayner
JM: Just because you are whispering into your recorder doesn’t mean I can’t hear you. I am not being difficult; I am simply telling you that I never booked a Three Dog Night show before in my life.
MM: Fine. Next question: what are some of your favorite non-jamband shows that you’ve had?
JM: Wilco last year was a highlight for me... working with The Strokes, right before they broke, was a highlight. Iggy Pop - legendary. That was fun. Would you consider David Byrne a jamband?
JM: Yeah, David Byrne was one of my favorite shows. Steve Earle last year was one of my favorite shows. I guess as far as the jamband connotation goes with JoMo, I started off working with jambands, because most of the bands I started off with were Madison House bands, which were jambands, and that’s were my roots lie. But today I don’t listen to jambands. I still like it, and I don’t mind it, but my tastes have grown more, I’m just kind of pigeonholed in some jamband category, but we do a lot of other stuff.
By Chris McKay
MM: You know this is going to be on JamBase, and you, I, and the Georgia Theater were all nominated for "best of."
MM: You finished second in the promoting category, Georgia Theatre finished first as far as venue. How the hell did I only finish fifth?
JM: I don’t think people understand your style of writing. You know, you come off as very aggressive, but you’re really sweet inside. You just have that townie shell on the outside.
MM: That is very sweet. But no Josh, for the fourth time today, I will not go out with you. Best show that you put on with the smallest turnout?
JM: That is a good one. There’s been a few... we did this show with a group called Club D'Elf, which was basically an all-star band of avant-garde jazz players.
MM: Who was that? I mean I of course know, but for those poor souls out there that don’t?
JM: John Medeski, and just a bunch of other serious cats, and it only did like 150, 200 people at the most. Did a group called the Warlocks, which is a band I have been listening to a lot lately, kind of like Jesus is Mary Jane, at Caledonia, we might have had twenty or thirty people there. There’s been a bunch of really good shows that have had low turnouts.
MM: Now I am going to ask you about some local bands and I want you to give us your thoughts on them. Squat?
JM: I love squat, I’ve loved them since I was in college. One of the first bands I got into down in Athens.
JM: They’re great, definitely, the hottest reggae band going. I’d say probably in the country right now.
JM: I was never an R.E.M. fan until I saw them at the Georgia Theatre do this special thing, and have been a huge fan since.
MM: Drive-By Truckers?
Drive By Truckers
By John Agee
JM: They’re one of my favorite bands on the planet.
JM: Basement is awesome. I love the style of music they are playing, their influences are basically the same stuff I listen to, so I am a huge fan of Basement.
MM: pH Balance?
JM: I haven’t seen pH balance, but I have their record, it’s really good.
MM: Claire Campbell?
JM: Um, Claire Campbell, I have only seen once and I didn’t give her my full attention.
MM: You had her open up for...
MM: Who was it?
JM: I can’t remember...
MM: It was that bald guy...
JM: Freedy Johnston.
JM: She was great, but I didn’t give her my full attention so I can’t give you...
MM: Kevn Kinney?
JM: I love Kevn; He just has one of those classic voices that I will always love. I was a huge Drivin n Cryin fan. He’s just a great songwriter.
MM: Triple X hard drive?
JM: I think I stumbled into one of their shows, drunk, one night, and I was in the front row, like, fist in the air, rocking, so I’d have to say I enjoyed it. From what I remember.
MM: The Glands?
JM: That band should be huge. You probably love them, huh, Mad?
MM: Oh, for sure. Is it true that Ross Shapiro [of The Glands] was a fraternity brother of yours?
JM: Yes, he’s about eighteen years older, but yeah, I guess we’re considered brothers.
MM: He owns School Kids (local record store)?
JM: He manages School Kids, funny guy. A couple of bands in the jamband circuit are covering his songs.
MM: Oh yeah, who?
JM: RANA. They play a Glands song, “Living Was Easy.”
By D. Wayner
MM: Cool, and what’s the other band that covers their songs?
JM: Ehh, no, just that one [laughs].
MM: What are your favorite upcoming bands? Not necessarily local, just in general.
JM: I really like this band that is playing in two weeks here, called Interpole. Um, the Ravennettes are opening for them, and I have been listening to them a lot. Give me second, upcoming bands? Huh? I listen to so much new music I don’t know.
MM: Craziest thing that you’ve done to get a gig?
JM: This doesn’t sound that crazy, but I have offered way too much money to get gigs, on many occasions.
MM: That’s probably something that your audiences don’t realize when they fork out the money, that you have to put up a certain amount, and there are many shows that you probably lose money.
JM: Many shows. More than many.
MM: What’s “five in five with Willie Nelson” mean?
By John Croxton
JM: Um, we had five cups of coffee and five conversations.
MM: That’s a lie.
JM: That’s not a lie.
MM: If it could mean something else, what would it mean? All right, you’re not budging.
JM: I burned five doobs with Willie Nelson.
JM: Burned five doobs with Willie Nelson in about five minutes on his tour bus, the red headed stranger.
MM: First thing off the top of your head when I name these things: Boubacar Traoure?
JM: [Jaw dropping...]
MM: John Bell?
By Pamela Rody
MM: Georgia Bar?
JM: Can I bypass that question?
MM: Yeah. Col. Bruce Hampton?
MM: Kyle Pilgrim?
JM: My mentor.
MM: The fact that Firehouse is better than High Hat ever was?
MM: Jimmy Herring?
JM: The man.
MM: Willie the cop?
JM: Nice man, very nice man. He is... he’s written me many citations, but he’s got a few things on me which he could use and hasn’t.
MM: If you weren’t a music promoter what would you be doing?
JM: I’d like to drive the Zamboni for an NHL team.
MM: If you go out to a random show of an artist that completely blows you away, will you go ahead and try to book right way? Or if they have no reputation do you have to wait it out?
JM: No, I’ll go call their agent the next day. I’ve booked bands based on their live show. If I go see a band and enjoy it, I’ll try to book ‘em.
MM: Why a JoMo show?
By D. Wayner
JM: Because we care about each one of our shows, and make sure that each one is just run perfectly, and everything about it is done right.
MM: Who in the industry has influenced you the most?
JM: Definitely Mike Luba, of the people I know. Of the people I don’t know, there’s Bill Graham and Corin Capshaw.
MM: Corin Capshaw?
JM: Yeah, he manages Dave Mathews Band, and does a bunch of other stuff. But Mike Luba of anyone I know is a big influence. My cousin John Moore is a big influence.
MM: Strangest request an artist has made other than getting fifty things of baby oil?
JM: Papa Roach made us get him remote control cars. I don’t know what that was for.
MM: It was part of the contract?
JM: Yeah. You know, I think some of the bands ask for things just to see if we will do it. Like Guster will ask for a live goldfish, and bands ask for socks all the time, which comes off as being weird. But it’s actually quite a good request, because if you are on the road for a while, your socks start to get pretty nasty, to get a new pair of socks every night is probably a good thing.
MM: Upcoming stuff that you haven’t released yet?
JM: I'm working on some really cool stuff, and I’ll probably jinx it by saying it, because it’s not done, but I promised you Mad. I’m working on a show right now: a co-bill with Ween and Les Claypool at the Classic Center. That would be May 1st, which is the last day of school. So that’d be like the end of the year blowout. I’m working on a show for the Flaming Lips. Working on a show with the ******* at the ********. [Josh asked us to leave this out because it wound up not going through.]
MM: When’s that?
JM: April 18th. Working on a Badly Drawn Boy show, really cool artist from London, working on two nights of Nickel Creek at the Georgia Theatre. Working on a Funky Meters show at the Variety Playhouse. And you know we got a couple other big ventures in the works. Working on a cruise ship, festival cruise ship thing. Should be finalizing the details on that pretty soon. And the deal with that is we are gonna charter a cruise ship and take about ten bands out on it, and sail to a couple of different islands. Gonna be a festival on a boat, and now we are looking at bringing in a bigger name act to lay on one of the islands.
MM: Would it be a couple nights? Would you sleep on the boat?
JM: Yes, it’ll have cabins for folks to sleep.
MM: Can you preview any of the artists that will be on that boat fest?
JM: No, 'cause we haven’t started booking it yet, but to give you an idea, what we are working, what we are looking at bands like the North Mississippi Allstars, Robert Randolph, Karl Denson, Soulive, Keller, MMW, moe., those kinds of bands. It’s gonna be a jambands cruise.
MM: And what would be the bigger name band you’re trying to find?
JM: The band we’re hoping to fly in is ***** ****** ***** [Josh wanted us to hold this back], and have them play on an island in Mexico. We’ll fly them in, and every one will be on the boat, and take them to an island one day, and get off the boat and have the full production set up.
MM: Anything else? What do you want America to know?
JM: We try to keep our ticket prices low.
As I was leaving Josh pumped up the volume to his stereo and his favorite song was blaring out of his speakers: Don Henley’s "New York Minute."
That is not true.
MM: The interview is over Josh.
JM: I don’t care if it is or it isn’t. "New York Minute" is not my favorite tune, and I am not playing it on my speakers right now. Don’t print that.
Interview by Madeline Modeliste
JamBase | Athens
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