Lucy Moore

Lucy Moore, credit: Candace Horgan

Growing up in a musical family with close ties to Swallow Hill Music, Lucy Moore is no stranger to the rewards of a life in music, but she is also well aware of the unique challenges musicians face.

In this Q&A Lucy discusses her history with Swallow Hill Music, what it’s like to grow up in a musical family, and what the future holds for her musically.

See Lucy Moore open for – and perform a few songs with – Mary Flower in Daniels Hall on Saturday, August 27.

You’ve played Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill Music before, but the focus will be on you on August 27 when you open for Mary Flower. You’re familiar with the stage, but this is in a different context – how does that make you feel? Are you preparing any differently?

This will be the second set I’ve done here on my own, but the first time I’ll be totally solo. I’m doing a lot more on the piano these days, and the songs always turn out much differently than they would on guitar. As time goes on, I realize I’m hardly a guitarist and almost entirely a pianist. Opening for Mary, I wonder, “Why would I even try to open for her with guitar?” We’re planning to do a couple of tunes together, so she’ll definitely be taking care of the guitar for those, with me on piano.

Related to that, your family has strong ties to Swallow Hill Music and there are a lot of stories of you growing up here. Do you have a particular memory or two of Swallow Hill Music that you’d like to share?

Swallow Hill is one of those places where I wish I could see a tally of how many times I’ve been there. (Same goes for My Brother’s Bar at 15th & Platte.) There’s a picture of my mom about 7-8 months pregnant with me, gorgeous and made up for a show and looking like she’s really just bearing it and ready to get home. There are pictures of me and my sister hijacking the mics at the former Swallow Hill on South Pearl. I’ve been there so many times and I’ve heard so much here, it’s one giant amalgam in my head. I feel incredible love and support from the countless musical godmothers and godfathers we’ve known through Swallow Hill. Mary is one of them, for sure.

On your Bandcamp page, you feature several tracks you recorded with Sean Watkins. How did you meet Sean? Do you still keep up with him?

Sean and I met as kids/teenagers growing up around music festivals in Colorado when Nickel Creek was touring. I remember all three of them as teens meeting my mom and uncle for the first time at the Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs. It was 1998, the same weekend Princess Diana died!

Sometime after college, I went to a music camp in Shasta, California and Sean was an instructor. I wrote my song “Sister (Take Me To The Shore)” there, which I finally recorded this year for our EP, Daughters. We hit it off singing every song we knew by our collective favorites. Sean is in Los Angeles, and I was still in Oakland after college, so we managed to get together and record in 2011. He’s a skilled producer and consummate musician, as well as one of the most compassionate people I know, so he’s just great to work with. My sister is in L.A., so we do end up hanging now and then.

Do you have new songs and recordings in the works? Are their any departures from your previous works?

It’s my intention to make a full length recording by the time I turn thirty in May 2018. It’s always been hard to feel one definition of myself as a musician, but it’s time for me to reconcile that into one album. At this point, I see it as a three-fold thing: part singer at the piano, part singer with guitar, and part composer/pianist. I know it has to work out somehow – a three-chapter album, maybe? I’d also like to include a few other pieces of a band, and of course a family member or two somehow. My sister and I have seedlings of songs together, and it’s one of our shared dreams to put out a sister album someday.

Being the daughter of Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore – and the niece of Tim O’Brien – what are the advantages and disadvantages of being a musician from an established musical family?

This is the main question of my life! The music business is one of the most enticing things for so many people (me included) and it has also always been one of the most difficult. In the last two decades, it has become one of the most expensive things to make a living doing, and the margin of success has changed drastically. But even before the internet changed everything, watching my parents work, I knew there were tough struggles involved to keep going and not give up. The struggles are practical, but they’re also very personal. Getting the inside scoop is not always so encouraging. Yet there my folks are, still doing it, and so I am doing it in my way, too.

Denver is full of all kinds of musicians who make themselves heard, and I would be completely uninspired if it weren’t for the community here. Still, I’m too much of a introverted homebody to really hash it out week after week as a performer. I think I was just not born with that kind of energy, and it takes that. But I absolutely love being on stage and I know I’d go crazy if I didn’t get up from time to time to show what I’ve got. My job in this life is to figure out how to be the musician I am on the inside while sharing the territory with my family, in all their strength as performers. Half of me wants to hide and work it all out on the inside, and the other half of me knows I owe it to myself, my family, and to whoever else might be listening, to show who I am as a musician.

This Q&A was conducted via email with Swallow Hill Music Marketing Manager Barry Osborne.