The Village

The Night Scotty Moore Came To Town…
by Noel Shine

Scotty at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

March 13th 2004 will forever be indelibly etched in my memory as the night Scotty Moore came to town. The town being Dublin city, the capital of Ireland. I ,at 37 years had been and still am an admirer of the music of Elvis, Scotty and Bill going back to that twilight time after Elvis’ death when there was a sudden major commercial revival in his career. Previously deleted albums suddenly came back into vogue and willing fans like myself bought what overpriced LP’s or cassettes we could afford or often as not, primed tape recorders RECORD buttons at the ready, up against radio speakers to compile our own home-made bootlegs. On one such night, I can still recall being huddled up under the blankets with a transistor radio listening to a late night tribute to Elvis’ Sun records and hearing Mystery Train drift in and out over the airwaves before finally becoming “tuned-in” just as Elvis let a final “whoooo!” of delight and faded away again. You cannot get that kind of magic from pristine FM radio. In time, I would have many such Elvis “firsts”, each more joyous and revealing as the next. Most of the best would have the unmistakeable sound of Scotty Moore’s digits gliding, seemingly effortlessly over the frets and strings of whatever guitar he happened to be playing at that time. I began to detect his unique style being aped by other contemporary artists and recognised that Scotty was just as accomplished in his art ,as Elvis was as a singer. So it was with a mixture of trepidation and giddy excitement that myself and another self-professed Elvis “nut”, my friend Anthony McGivern headed down the thirty miles journey from the Royal County (Meath) to Dublin and back to our relative “youth” to catch Scotty playing at a club called The Village.

Jimmy Russell and Scotty at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

Trepidation, because we feared it would be another crass Elvis event replete with the “jumpsuit” afflicted fanatics and the lost-in-time sideburn brigade. Giddy for obvious reasons! We would have been happy just to attend a “meet and greet” with the man, who, we were aware had not been in the best of health and possibly should not be even on a transatlantic flight ,much less a tour of full gigs. Arriving in plenty of time we were not disappointed. Being a photographer (an Alfred Wertheimer wannabe!) I had signalled my intent to take photos that night to the promoter and had no problem getting in with my weapon of choice draped around my neck. There was a bar, always a plus! There was a notable absence of the freakazoids, mentioned earlier, often attendant at such gatherings. The accents heard, seemed to indicate that the audience had convened from all corners of Ireland on The Village, for what was to them too, a unique occasion.

Scotty at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

By the time the support band came on we had taken up position with our elbows on the stage-edge with an unobstructed view. Finally, with the venue at full capacity, standing room only, the lead singer introduced Scotty Moore onto the stage and the whole place went “mad” with applause, shouts and high-pitched whistles. Flashing cameras went -off as he casually signalled to the rest of the musicians on stage and unleashed the sound that 50 years previously heralded the birth of Rock ’n’Roll. I was so enthralled I just watched and listened to Scotty for the first few numbers with undoubtedly, a big, stupid grin on my face. I wasn’t alone, I looked around me and guys who ten minutes previous had been “too cool for school” and clearly, no stranger to guitars were now fixated on the wizard-like, respectable be-suited gent who still had the playing style of his former 21 year-old self. The sound was so full and electric that it blew the cobwebs of any notions of nostalgic ennui that I may have harboured. It spoke full-on to the soul and underlined that Rock’n’Roll if you want to categorise it, is the sound of not just yesterday, but now and the future. It exists to conjure up the spirit of the noblest dreams and aspirations of youth and the young at heart. It exudes and epitomises the energy of the relentless driving spirit of all human creativity. Finally, it provides the soundtrack to the movie of life, on this rock we roll roll with.

Scotty at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

Scotty played not like a relic of the past, but of an old man in a hurry, without ambition but loaded with purpose. Keen to just be in the moment, he had survived the trials and tribulations of living with and working with one of the most enigmatic individuals ever to grace this planet. Elvis was, at best, a troubled Genius. Elvis was gone from Scotty’s life by 1969, but was ever present to him now and his followers before him, in the music he helped create and we, his ever-grateful flock, had come to acknowledge the living genius of the mild-mannered man who allowed Elvis flourish while he worked his own magic in the shadows. Tonight, he stood tall and cranked it out big-time in the spotlight. I cannot recall specifically, all the songs that were played that night, as like one hypnotized, it all became one big giddy-blur of one joyous moment. Suffice to say, he ran through a selection of his and Elvis twenty greatest guitar arias encompassing the period 1954 to 1961 in a rough chronological sequence. I do remember he played them note-perfect without any shoddy deviation from the way he played them on record. I recall each song opening, being greeted with cheers subsiding to a hushed reverence before concluding to a roar of release. Whether he played Hound Dog, A Fool Such As I, King Creole, Reconsider Baby, Such A Night or Baby Lets Play House each song was ingested and savoured and given the welcome of a long-lost friend. There were a lot of “ghosts” in that room that night, not least Elvis’s and Bill Black’s ,you couldn’t see them, but you could definitely feel them. And that is what Elvis, Scotty and Bill gave to the world as they thundered down the dust-tracks of West Texas all those years ago-feeling. Rock’ n’ Roll already had a body, in July 1954 together they gave it a soul.

Scotty, Paul Ansell, Dave Briggs, Gail and Pete Pritchard at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

Seven years on from that night in Dublin, I remember the lovely Gail Pollock came onto the stage to say that because of Scotty’s recent illness he wished to forego the strain of a “meet and greet” afterwards because of speech difficulties, but that she wanted us to know that Scotty had disregarded his doctors best advice to rest up for a period of three months in order to make this engagement. He had broken that curfew because he wanted too see us, as much as we had wanted to see him. The previous hour’s charged performance had already been a rollercoaster of emotions up to that point, for all there privileged enough to witness it. Now every proud, strapping, macho Irishman and girly Irish lady, roared in delight if only to disguise seriously welled-up Irish eyes! A past master on the guitar strings, Scotty Moore was no mean player on the heartstrings as well. For giving us Elvis and giving of your self, as we say here in Irish Go Raibh Mile Maith Agat!, pronounced Go Rev Meela Maw A Gut or loosely translated Thank You Very Much!

Scotty at The Village - Mar 13, 2004
Photo © Noel Shine

(By Noel Shine in June 2011 recalling March 13th 2004) 

page added June 6, 2011

Gail, Pete and Scotty enjoying Guinness in Dublin - March 13, 2004
(while Scotty anticipates getting stuck with the tab)
Photo © P. Pritchard

We had a wonderful time in Dublin! The people at the show were great! We also visited a very Irish pub after the show. Scotty mildly liked the draft Guinness, but I gave mine to Stella Pritchard, our bass player Pete's wife. Scotty had a good time on the entire tour even with the stomach stuff. He did two shows in Ireland and several others in Wales and England. We did not make Scotland that tour, although we had done so earlier.
He loves the people in UK and Ireland and is very sorry that he can no longer play due to arthritis in his hands. He did his last show in Memphis in 2007, and the band you saw in Dublin came to the US to do that last show with him. He said that touring with those guys were the best tours he did, including the stuff with Elvis and Bill. There were no egos to fight, no troubles between band members, and just a good deal of laughter and fun. Also, Scotty no longer had to carry all the instruments, set up the stage, get Elvis away from his fans and back on the road, nor drive to the next gig.
Thanks for the page. It brought back some really good memories.

Gail Pollock
June 7, 2011

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