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Carlton Moody

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Biography

The eldest son in the Moody Appalachian dynasty, Carlton Moody was also the first to step out on a solo career. The move might have been interpreted as breaking away from the old-time Appalachian and traditional bluegrass influence of his father, the well-known fiddler Dwight Moody, but the road led back out into the country. The project Carlton Moody created with his younger brothers Trent and David Moody turned out to be, at its heart, quite traditional after all and not just because the name of the band, the Moody Brothers, sounded just like any one of the dozens of "brother bands" in mountain music. "Cotton Eyed Joe" was the name of the group's first big smash and even a listener with no knowledge of old-time or country music might recognize this song title, akin to something like "Home on the Range" in terms of being a universally recognized standard. And perhaps worn out? Not according to what happened when the Moody Brothers souped it up with electric instruments, electronic drums, and the latest line dance groove, which turned out to be as "latest" as clogging from the '20s. The breakthrough to a non-country audience that this record enjoyed, however, turned out to be a novelty fluke. Far from continuing to ride high on the hit parade with variations on this theme, Carlton Moody and his brothers have taken an interesting course in a career that has already won them Grammy nominations and awards from any number of country music organizations. The Moody Brothers have become an annual attraction at the Disney's European operation, Eurodisney, performing as the in-house country band in Frontierland. Thus, the inviting title of Carlton Moody's first solo album, Meet Me in Paris, could apply to any of the other Moody clan as well. Meet Me in Paris, however, was actually recorded in Nashville and features a range of blues, bluegrass, traditional country, and Western swing. From this evidence, listeners may assume that this Moody seems to be in no hurry to abandon the solid traditions of the country music craft, perhaps the best explanation why he has to hide out in Paris rather than work in Nashville. Carlton Moody is also concentrating on his own songwriting, with co-writers including Roger Cook of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" fame and George Hamilton V, who records and performs under the name of Hege V. It was the latter performer's father, George Hamilton IV, who gave the Moody Brothers of their early breaks in show business by taking them on as his backup band on a European tour in the early '80s. This was only a few years after the youngest members of the Moody family had been appraised as old enough to go out on the road on their own, without father's watchful eye and rosined bow to keep them in line. Dad, who came up as a member of Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys and as a senior citizen was still going strong with Charlotte's Briarhoppers, had gotten the boys started in show business singing gospel music on he and his wife's local television show during the late '60s and early '70s. Carlton Moody had learned guitar by the age of seven. He began a career as a soloist by the mid-'70s, at 16. While attending U.N.C.-Charlotte, he became involved with Jimmy Buffett, who at that point was picking up local musicians for his backup bands. Moody both opened shows for Buffet and got into some of his spontaneous combos. In 1978, the first version of the Moody Brothers band was formed. Since then, Carlton Moody has become an excellent player on banjo, mandolin, Dobro, fiddle, and piano as well. Sponsored by the North Carolina Tourism Department, Moody in 1981 took his bluegrass band on a six-week Friendship Force tour of Brazil. Some country players might associate the '90s Eurodisney gig with the nightmare of playing all summer at an amusement park dressed like a hillbilly with a painted-on mustache, but perhaps there is more to it than that, judging from this sober comment from Carlton Moody that is similar to the sentiments of many expatriate American jazz musicians: "The thing I like most about performing in Europe is that the audiences seem to take music a little more seriously." He goes on describe how the European country audience is more like the American bluegrass audience, as interested with the contributions of the instrumentalists and the history of the music as they are the glamorous singers out front. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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