When the band teacher from the San Antonio middle school came to Kelvin Moore’s fifth grade class and asked him what instrument he wanted to play, Moore said saxophone. The instructor gave Moore some wind tests and, due to Moore’s asthma, requested the student try replicating a drum beat instead.
“I played it and he said, ‘Yeah. You’re a drummer,'” SMG’s Moore told Amplify. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a drummer, but that’s how it happened.”
Moore went on to become a classically trained percussionist and even led his high school drum team. From then on, Moore found himself acquainted with the trial by fire method of learning and received that same tough-love approach when he began working at Sea World in San Antonio.
“That’s where I produced my first real concert, not one of my backyard hip-hop shows,” Moore explained. “It was a Tina Turner show. The production manager for that could just smell the rookie on me and he lit into me from the first time he saw me that morning until the end of the show. At the end of show he said ‘Now you’ve been baptized bitch. Move on.’ It was terrifying, but I knew I liked this business.”
Since then, Moore has worked throughout the country at various facilities in various roles including a stint at the Alamodome where he helped host the NBA All-Star games with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, and Shaq and produced a concert scene from the film “Selena” at the dome.
“I’ll always tell people or when I talk to kids, you’ll either love this business or you’ll hate it,” Moore said. “If you love it, you have to be a little demented because it can be unforgiving at times. But it is the best job ever and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Amplify caught up with the Regional General Manager for SMG at Navy Pier in Chicago and classically trained percussionist to discuss his five favorite shows.
Up In Smoke Tour (Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem, and others) at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona
Aug. 10, 2000
To this day, this is without question the best hip-hop concert that I’ve ever been to. Although I will admit, I haven’t been to a hip-hop show in many years. So I might not be giving credit to some of the artists that came along after this era. Not only was this probably the hottest show of the year with all of these West Coast giants on the same lineup, but the production value was through the roof. The movie clip that played before Dre and Snoop did their headline set was incredible. I attended with some friends from work (Phoenix Convention Center) and we had suite tickets. We were young, energetic, from various backgrounds and just living the dream! You couldn’t tell us a darn thing that night. So, to say we had a great time would be an understatement. For me, my hip-hop clock stopped working that year. Nothing compares to Dr. Dre and the West Coast sound from the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Prince at RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina
April 23, 2004
Those who know me know that Prince was the greatest artist to ever walk this earth … period. Don’t debate me on this! My wife and I had recently moved from San Antonio, Texas to Richmond, Virginia where I was the AGM at Greater Richmond Convention Center. When this tour was announced, he wasn’t scheduled to make a stop in Virginia. So we decided to make the drive to see his show in Charlotte and made a weekend of it. In true Prince fashion, he rocked the arena for a full two hours with no breaks that I can recall. It was an in-the-round set and he kept the entire arena engaged and in a trance the entire time. We knew all of the songs, but the arrangements were all fresh. That’s just how Prince rocked it. Of course the show peaked with “Purple Rain.” But for me, the best part of the show was his performance of “Starfish & Coffee.” Only Prince could write a song about starfish, coffee, maple syrup, jam, green eggs and ham and make it speak to your soul. I’d seen him before and figured I’d have a chance to see him again at some point. But as it turns out, that was the last time I saw him live. Rest peacefully, Prince.
John Legend & India Arie, Diana Krall at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Seattle
April 20/29, 2009
My wife and I were living in the Seattle area at this time. These were actually two separate concerts, both taking place at the same winery concert venue just a week apart. But for me it was all one weeklong musical journey. The first weekend was John Legend and India Arie. The second weekend was Diana Krall. Each of these artists are singer-songwriters and storytellers who don’t rely on high production value in their live shows. They write songs about real-life experiences and present them in ways that bring you in and keep you captivated. Diana Krall was accompanied by other musicians, but it felt like she was playing an intimate set in a smoke-filled jazz club for me and a few friends. An absolutely amazing show, and the wine was nice too (sly grin). It was the same with India Arie the week before. She opened up for John Legend, but from the reaction of the crowd, you wouldn’t have known she was the opener. It was India, her guitar and the microphone. Nothing else mattered. She took the crowd on a journey around the world making us laugh and cry along the way. She is a very powerful storyteller and had us eating out of her hands. Now the best part of the John Legend set was the beginning. He actually started his set out in the middle of the crowd, standing on a chair just a few feet from our seats. The lights went down and the spotlight was on him about three seats down. The crowd went wild and everyone in our section lost their collective minds. I will admit that I got caught up as well. That dude knows how to put on a show. These are still some of my favorite artists today and I’ve seen them each on multiple occasions.
Sheila E. at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago
April 27, 2015
As a percussionist, I’ve always had a crush on Shelia E. From back in the days of Beat Street to her days rocking with Prince, Sheila E. is without question my favorite percussionist of all time. She was performing around the corner from our condo in Chicago’s South Loop at Buddy Guy’s. It was an intimate setting and perfect for this show. She sang all of her hits and also performed a lot of her Latin jazz stuff that she normally performs with her family. She played every instrument at different points in the show and interacted with the crowd like a seasoned pro. The crowd was one with the band. From all different backgrounds and parts of the city. We sang and danced and ate and drank without a care in the world. I even think Sheila preached the gospel a little during the show and made it funky! My wife and I had seen her in Seattle a few years earlier with her family as part of their Latin jazz show and that was amazing too. If you ever get the chance to see Sheila E. in person, don’t miss it. She will replenish your soul.
Darius Rucker at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Chicago
Aug. 20, 2016
So my older sister, Khadijah, is a Darius Rucker fanatic! (I know, right?!?) So when I saw that he was making a stop in Chicago last year, I surprised her with box seat tickets to his show. She, my wife and I went to the show and I’ve got to tell you it was phenomenal. In addition to singing his current hits, he sang some old Hootie & the Blowfish stuff and some covers. The crowd was hanging on his every word. My sister was right there with them, like she was a 13-year-old groupie. It was awesome! For me, the best part of the show was his mashup of “No Diggity” and “Friends in Low Places.” He made the point that good music is good music, and a good song is a good song no matter where it comes from or who writes it. The best part was that the crowd knew every word of both songs. THAT was awesome!