Book of Blues Life Face Slap – LeRoi Moore’s Death

September 27, 2008.Finn.0 Likes.3 Comments
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LeRoi Moore photo published courtesty of Danny Clinch

Danny Clinch photo of LeRoi Moore’s instrument setup published with permission from Danny Clinch

I didn’t know how bad my bad day was until my supervisor told me the news:

“Did you hear?”

“Hear what?”

“Your boy, LeRoi Moore, died today.”

It was August 19th, 2008. I was groaning over an ex-girlfriend’s birthday and over the thoughts that she was in the city (Chicago). Petty, figuring I haven’t seen her in a while, but I still get competitive over who’s doing better. I do miss those legs. She also always seemed to fumble her away into being a step ahead of me on music, be it a cooler stereo, a more thought-out music collection – her step dad helped quite a bit. Two on one.

“Not always fair,” I graciously bemoaned…

I was groaning over the work and wondering if I missed the fine print on my contract that said, “40 hours a week only if the week ends on hump day.” That day, had I been given a copy of my contract, I would have sworn I was seeing double. It sucks having to clean up the messes of the paranoid and reckless.

Anyway, when my supervisor told me the news, I thought he was lying.

I went to the only university that didn’t overplay Dave Matthews Band. Yeah, that school: Denominational University. About 7 of us knew of Dave Matthews Band. I got into Dave Matthews Band because I had a roommate from Virginia Beach who introduced me to their music. DMB always seemed to release a CD, be it studio or live, just as I thought I was going to lose it. My last bit of work at Denominational University was done while pulling an all-nigher, taking a ritalin every three hours to not think about the anxiety, and listening to “Before These Crowded Streets.” I got more of a religious experience from their music than I did from Denominational University. Experience and authenticity: religious necessities for healing.

I thought my big Prometheus college gift for my high school sister would be the Dave Matthews Band studio album “Under the Table and Dreaming.” To my surprise on Christmas morning, her gift for me was the same CD. Our relationship seems to always be this way.

Anyway, after I couldn’t get my supervisor to crack his poker face, I went to I calmly turned to him and said, “I’m going to go home for lunch.”

I don’t know if it was his death that brought upon the tears as I sped home so much as it was Leroi Moore’s death being another reminder that life is going by, as the Allman Brothers once sang, “like hurricanes and faster things.” Leroi Moore isn’t my favorite musician in Dave Matthews Band. I’ve seen Dave Matthews Band live 13 times and there were moments when I’d wish he’d hurry up with his bit so Boyd Tinsley spin some more pixies off his strings. I thought LeRoi’s Death might have simply been a personal life face slap that our Book of Blues still isn’t published, nor finished being edited.

Then I remembered how I wanted to see Dave Matthews Band this past summer at Toyota Park near Chicago. I remember telling a concert-going friend, “It’s okay, I’ve seen them 13 or 14 times. They’ll be around next year. I’ll see them again.” And then we finished buying pit seats to see Jack Johnson at Alpine Valley in East Troy, WI. Not that we couldn’t have done both, but my work was getting crazy. This a clip from the show and this was about our view for the show:

No real knock on Jack Johnson. I really do like listening to him. My appreciating is paradoxical because I’m typically not one for just strumming and a younger me would have been a guitar snob pointing out the simplicity of his style, but an older me appreciates the way it calms me. It was a soothing show. Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith have tried to be in line to take over Jimmy Buffet’s kingdom, but it will be Jack Johnson who wears the crown. He’s mixed Buffet’s beach persona together with Bob Marley’s authenticity (as the clip shows, he puts in bars of Marley and Buffet in throughout the show) to make stories about marrying your college sweetheart and recycling sound peaceful, soothing and enjoyable. His songs seem to give me an indication where my life could had been had I not taken the road less traveled (and all that Frost shit).

I do wish I had my iPhone 3G then to take a picture of the lawn after that Jack Johnson Alpine Valley 2008 concert. I felt bad for the Alpine Valley Resort staff. It sucks having to clean up the messes of the drunk and reckless.

But during that lunch, as I dealt with the pain of finding out about LeRoi by gouging on Diet Coke and peanut butter and jellys, I realized that one of the great treats in my life, one of the refuges I resided in for hours at a time in my life – taking in Dave Matthews Band shows – was never going to be the same. Oh sure, there’s Boyd and Carter and Steffan and that dude with the acoustic guitar tucked under his armpits, but the original lineup will never be on stage again. One of those faster things took it away from me. Not to be selfish, one of those faster things, in this case: an ATV, took somethings special away from everyone in that refreshing world I frequent.

I find myself appreciating his artistry more. I find myself wishing I could hear LeRoi Moore live, again. I might finally buy that Code Magenta CD. Maybe most importantly, I find myself not wanting to have to be the ‘what if’. I’m feeling the panic of not publishing Book of Blues. I don’t want to take anything more for granted ever again.

I need to call my cousin tomorrow. He has my paper draft of Book of Blues. More on him tomorrow, but the fact he didn’t call me a week after he had it is surprising. I know he’s read it by now. He’s usually the kind to call and life face slap withouth much regard. I’ve been waiting for the harshness. I told him to bring the pain because we want the Books of Blues done right. We didn’t write it for ourselves. I can’t wait to hear what he says. Yet, he hasn’t called. I don’t have the courage to believe that old saying about what “no news” is.

NOTE: A special thank you goes out to legendary photographer Danny Clinch for granting me permission to publish his LeRoi Moore photo. I emailed him saying that I was an aspiring old blues man-to-be and I wanted to publish the photo. I told him why I wanted to and about Book of Blues and he wrote back saying he was an old blues man, too and I could “go ahead.” Danny, if Book of Blues ever gets published, I will send you a copy, as promised.

— Nat Finn

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  • Just stumbled upon your post while searching for Danny Clinch photography. I must say, as a fellow DMB fanatic, I also felt the bitter cold deep within my soul after hearing the news of Roi’s passing. Last year (2010), I traveled back home to catch the band at one of their more popular venues, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). I had been seeing them there since my first DMB show in 2000 and this would be the first time without Roi. I don’t remember the song, or where it fell in the setlist, but I do recall weeping like a baby in the middle of one of their infamous jams after realizing they were missing a piece of their cohesive unit. I tipped my head back and looked up at the sky and just cried. I never met the man once, but after 29 times of seeing him perform live in front of me I had gotten used to hearing him belt out those touching sax notes; and now that was gone. I felt as if I knew him and had lost him just like the rest of his friends and family. It’s amazing what music can do. Just wanted to share this and say I enjoyed reading your post. Take care.


  • natfinn

    Hi, Justin,

    My wife stumbled upon this comment while we’re looking to upgrade it.

    29 times at that time? Wow. I only had 13-14 times since ’96.

    I still think of that day when August 19th comes around. I show Katie (my wife) those concerts and she’l ask who the guy is. I try not to say it with a tear in my eye.

    I went back and listened to Trax Vol. 14. He was stumbling over notes more than normal. I was listening to it while on a walk about tripped over ‘a gap in the sidewalk.” Was sad to hear him trooping along till the end.

    Thanks for the comment.

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