For attendees of the Esquimalt Ribfest who didn’t stick around after gnawing delicious pork, beef and chicken off the bone to watch Ian Moore’s explosive set on stage at Bullen Park Saturday night, you missed out.
The Berkeley, Calif.-born and Austin, Texas-raised blues and rock guitarist, once characterized as the heir apparent to the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan, put on a scorching 90-minute show that left everyone with a big smile and no doubt won him a legion of new fans.
Moore, 51, has been recording since the early 90s and honing his musical talents for the past four decades. Along the way he has fearlessly melded the traditional Texas blues he began playing in the late 80s with world music, psychedelic rock and more. Despite showing long-term creativity and all-world guitar talent, Moore doesn’t have the household name Vaughan had at his peak.
That didn’t matter on Saturday, as Moore churned out everything from slow soul to rockin’ speed riff-driven power pop. With a powerful voice to match his tasty guitar licks, he gave audience members packed onto on the plywood dance floor plenty of material to groove to.
Playing catchy songs like “You Gotta Know” and “I Will Carry On” from throughout his catalogue, including Toronto (EP, 2018), Strange Days (2017) and The Noble Art (EP 2016), Moore and his keyboard-bass-drums backing trio – assembled for this show – kept things moving along seamlessly.
Moore grabbed the audience after just one song, when he paused to describe how his friendship with Jason Buie, the founding festival music director who died last year, led to his coming up to the Pacific Northwest. Moore thanked the Buie family and Ribfest organizers for the honour of playing on the stage bearing the name of his friend, then dedicated to Buie’s memory a song the two once sat down to play together.
Ribfest organizers scored a coup landing Moore for this gig and in this first year without Buie in the fold, it was the perfect choice.
Esquimalt Ribfest continues Sunday at Bullen Park from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with admission by donation, lots of food and beverage options, and music starting at noon with Dryspell and ending with a 7:30 p.m. set by the Deb Rhymer Band. Find out more at esquimaltribfest.com.