John Moreland at The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC 3/4/17by Pat and George Betzhold on 04/26/17
Spilling All Over the Stage
We first heard of John Moreland when he played “Break My Heart Sweetly” on Late Night with Stephen Colbert. His performance reached deep inside of himself as he shared his feelings to everyone. It was impossible not to be moved. It turns out his songs have been used in the long running TV series “Sons of Anarchy.” He has also opened for such notable artists as Jason Isbell, Dawes, and Patty Griffin. I guess this shows that, while he may have been obscure to many, his talent is well recognized in entertainment circles.
When we heard that John was playing in Asheville at the Orange Peel, we jumped at the chance to see him live. The Peel is one of those classic Asheville landmarks that have their roots in an earlier time. First built as a roller rink (Skateland Rollerdome) in the 50’s, it has evolved into what Rollingstone Magazine wrote in 2008, one of the top live music venues in the country. It has hosted acts as diverse as Bob Dylan, Smashing Pumpkins, The Black Keys, and Megadeath.
John Moreland has been writing songs since he was 10. He played his first show at 13. While he was born in Texas and has moved around a bit during his lifetime, he now calls Tulsa his home. Many youthful musicians get their early influences from radio, but John was heavily affected by the Southern Baptist hymns he heard while growing up. This is reflected in his albums to varying degrees. He comments that his view of the Church has evolved as he has matured. He has a style that highlights his southern roots and deep appreciation for Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt.
John is a BIG man, probably north of 400 lbs., and when he begins to play and sing you become lost in the immensity of a talent that is as large as he is. He was backed by Tulsa musician John Abney, playing electric guitar and a very bluesy harmonica. One of the songs they opened with, “Oh Julia” off his 2013 album “In the Throes,” shows how his relationship with the Church is a dynamic thing.
Every song that followed was as heartfelt as the one before it. As the concert progressed, John became that old friend who had left you years ago and came back with a trunk full of experiences to share. From what he sang this night, he still has a lot of traveling to do before he finds the happiness and contentment he is looking for. Nothing reinforced this more than his closing song – “I Need You to Tell Me Who I Am.”
This man needs to be heard. We hope you will do so and find him as enamoring as we did. As he left the stage, it was indeed impossible not to be moved.