A Farewell To Brian Moore
By Justin Morris
It’s never easy for members of any community to say goodbye to one of their own. For the Southwest Louisiana music community, in many ways, it may never have been harder.
We all woke up on the morning of February 7 to the news that our beloved Brian Moore was no longer with us. For those not fortunate enough to have known Brian, the Sulphur native spent many years as the funky bass man for longtime local favorite Lingus. But he spent his more recent years playing solo or teaming up with local acts and musicians, the most recent of which was the newly formed “The Sauce,” with local singer and songwriter Brittany Pfantz, who recently returned from California.
Offstage, you were very likely to see Moore over the years at Swicegood Music and Homsi’s (both of which he worked at for quite some time) or working for the very venues that booked him, often as the doorman: taking covers, putting on bracelets and always making sure the bands got an accurate door count so they didn’t get swindled by any dishonest bar owner.
But whether he was schooling you on bass or on which craft beer you should buy, Brian brought something special, if not profound, to each person he met and each encounter he had. The proof of that couldn’t be more evident than what I’ve seen the last few days.
I awoke at 8 am that Thursday, and somewhere in between the bed and the coffee pot, I popped open Facebook to check my notifications. Before I even got that far, I saw the top post on my newsfeed and stopped in my tracks. The post only said “Brian.” But even without a last name, my mind jumped to “Heavy B.” I was crushed to see that I was right. Post after post after post …
In no time, my newsfeed was all but completely consumed in a swell of love and loss over Brian. For hours, I sat reading the words of all those people, many of whom I knew and many I didn’t, and looking at their photos, drawings and memories. It was staggering. Among the posts was one from Brittany Pfantz, who not only announced her shock and sadness, but also stated that the Brittany Pfantz and The Sauce show for that Friday night at Rikenjaks had been called off. She instead invited any local musicians who wanted to to come out and play to honor Brian and celebrate his life that night.
Cars stretched for miles, it seemed, as musicians and friends all but filled Rikenjaks that night. Musicians of every sort rotated on and off the stage, playing all of Brian’s favorite songs and all the favorites his fans and friends loved to hear him play. It was a night of tears, laughter and a great many hugs — something that Brian was known for best of all. Old friends turned up, some having driven in from Houston and some having flown all the way from Chicago, so I was told. But despite the tears, it was a night of happiness and love most of all, and I think that made an important point about Brian and why we were most sad that he was gone.
Brian was never one to put himself first. He could be stressed or frustrated and he could shelve all of that if someone he knew was hurting or just in need of a friendly ear or some advice. He would invest himself fully in those he cared about. And he cared about just about anyone he ever met. Every encounter ended with a hug, and usually an “I love you, Pumpkin” — no matter whom he was hugging.
Throughout the event, and even through the funeral, those who spoke about him said very little about his music in comparison to his heart, kindness and spirit. Even fellow musicians spoke less about his virtuosity and more about the virtues of spirit that he embodied.
A second gathering occurred at Mellow Mushroom on the day after the funeral in Sulphur. Logan Soileau of The Cards organized an open jam session. Once again, friends and musicians alike turned out in droves. Along with a full evening’s worth of music, there was some information about some of the things being done to honor Brian in a public way. Amie Herbert of KPLC’s Midday Show spoke on behalf of a group that has been organizing to do a number of things, from petitioning to have one of the Mayor’s Art Awards be named in Moore’s honor, to looking at the possibilities of a festival or even a charitable foundation.
Mellow Mushroom stepped up to show its support by staying open an hour longer than expected and by offering a percentage of sales from the evening to a foundation or effort to be named on his behalf.
Beyond that, it was another night of laughter, tears, old friends and so many hugs. Despite the inherent sadness of it, this and everything I saw and experienced that weekend was a positive and happy thing, and everyone who was there was touched and moved in a very good way.
That brings us to the nature of who Brian Moore was. The love and positivity he extended to everyone he met shone like a spotlight in everyone who gathered to remember him. While his talent will be dearly missed by us all, the loss of his positivity is the greater loss, by far. In a world where love, kindness, generosity and compassion can be trim on the ground, more positive people are needed. People who can reach the hearts of others just through the kind nature of their being are a treasured commodity. That makes this loss so heavy.
Of course, he wouldn’t have wanted any of us to be sad. Not for one minute. He would, instead, have made each of us and our sadness his priority, and put all of his own burdens off to deal with at another time. And he wouldn’t have given up until he made us smile again.
We owe him those smiles. It’s just up to us now to find them. We’re lucky that we were given such a model and such a guide. As long as we can remember what he taught us and we continue to strive to be more like B. Moore, then the best of him will stay with us, and he will live on in us.
I was thrilled to hear that Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter sent a proclamation to Brian’s family naming the day of his funeral — February 11, 2019 — a day of memorial in his honor. I’m excited to see what the efforts of this campaign on his behalf will accomplish. I genuinely believe that his greatest and most enduring memorial is the goodness and love he put into us all. We are that memorial, and the best way to honor him is to plant the same “pumpkin seeds” in others that he put in us.
Be Moore to the people you love. Be Moore passionate about your loves and talents. Be Moore of a friend to yourself. Be Moore willing to hug someone. Just Be Moore. You know very well it would make him smile.
We love you, Pumpkin, and we will ever miss you.