My Friend, Bay Area Legend Guitarist Moro


For me it’s a pleasure to introduce my great friend Guitarist Moro a legend of the Bay Area.  He’s well recognized for his beautiful guitar music, and he dedicated many years of his life to travel as a troubadour in 1960’s with not a penny in his pocket. I wanted to ask some questions directly to him so I can share it with my friends and audience in my ALA Cristina blog.  I have sent ten questions to Moro for my article “Bay Area Legend Guitarist Moro” and he was kind enough to respond candidly to all my questions. Check for his answers below on his own words.

Knowing Moro for all these years has been an experience for me because he has broadened my horizons when it comes to music. Also he helped me realize that what I am doing in the ALA Cristina Show is valuable since we have so many people who are interested in the Hispanic music and culture. He’s been a great mentor and support to me in so many ways, and I am glad to have him as my musical friend.  I want people to know more about this very talented musician living in the Bay Area and to tell the world how special and inspiring this man is.

Also, the doors of the ALA Cristina show are open for all musicians into Hispanic music to showcase their music in my show at KKUP 91.5 FM Cupertino - http://www.kkup.org/.  Let’s take advantage of the digital technology to communicate and make friends around the world with music.

 Have a Happy New Year 2017!

Cristina Boyd


Q & A of Cristina Boyd to Guitarist Moro:

Q1 – Cristina – It was a pleasure to talk to you the other day Mr. Moro. I know you’re a very busy person and constantly working on new projects, could you tell me what is new and exciting going on in your life?

A – Moro:  There’s more than I’ve room for here!  Commander Peter Campbell, skipper of the Royal Navy submarine destroyer HMS Eastbourne who, with the Queen’s permission in 1962, carried me across the Indian Ocean in trade for concerts given for the officers and crew, discovered my newly published nonfiction book, Kin to the Wind this past month and wrote to me via my website, www.moromusic.com

After 54 years we’re back in contact.  He’s written several beautiful emails expressing his delight with the chapter about him and his crew.  One of his emails got published in the Moro’s Mailbag section of the Moro’s Book Page at my website.  Though Kin is a true story, it happened so long ago it feels like a fantasy now.  And to have a character emerge from a “fantasy” and send emails---well, it’s a very unique buzz!

  

 Q2 – Cristina – I’ve loved guitar music since I was seven years old; I was wondering how old you were when you developed interest in playing the guitar?

A – Moro:  At age seven I visited a family friend who had a guitar sitting on her hearth.  I was drawn to it and asked if I may play it. 

“Do you know how to play"? she asked in disbelief.

“No, but I can play.  I just know it", I said.

She gave her permission.  I experimented for a few seconds, and a minute or two I improvised a tune and began playing it.  I cannot tell you how I did this.  It just came from inside me, and it’s one of my favorite compositions to this day.  I call it My Own Song.  The experience was so exciting I got very little sleep that night.  When horses are born, they’re up on their feet within minutes.  It was like that with me and the guitar.

   

Q3 – Cristina - I have talked to you a lot about flamenco and classical guitar music, you seem to have some knowledge about Spanish Culture. Tell me how you feel about the contributions of guitarists Paco de Lucia and Andres Segovia to the music of Spain and the world.

A – Moro:  You might as well ask me how I feel about the contributions of Galileo Galilei who once said, “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself,” and Albert Einstein who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

All four of these men were true seekers and great finders.  I feel their most important contributions are, like the spirit we find manifested in their work, undefinable—hence best left undefined—monumental gifts and treasures that can only be understood and enjoyed by each of us, in our own way, to the fullest extent that we’re able.

 

 Q4 – Cristina - Looking at your biography, you have traveled for 14 year as a troubadour with not a penny in your pocket.  How did you manage that?

A – Moro: By trusting and putting one foot in front of the other.  Even during my capture by OAS terrorists in Algeria, and while crossing the Arabian Desert by camel as guest of Bedouin champagne smugglers, there was a beautiful charm at work, born of my trust in Love and my faith that Love governs.  This charm generated an invisible shield, protecting me when dangers became life-threatening, and creating what seemed a worldwide conspiracy that I get looked after.  

All that said, folks constantly gave me money.  But being a troubadour---living by tradition of 12th-century troubadours—I never once used it for anything, not even for visas.  I had virtually no use for money.  I accepted it, when offered, only because it brought me closer to the folks giving it to me.  Growing as close as possible with my worldwide family was the purpose of my travels.

 

Q5 – Cristina - You have so much to tell the world not only with your music but also with the exciting life you have lived.  Could you give me some highlights of those great moments?

A – Moro:  I played one-on-one for Pablo Picasso at an outdoor café in Aix-en-Provence, and performed with gypsies in Spain.  The Communists in Berlin offered me 100 dollars a day to defect. 


Attacked and nearly killed by beggars in Tunis, I was rescued from them by a youthful sage wielding a cutlass who became a close friend.  I met a ghost (for real!) at a Himalayan manor house, performed in the palace of King Frederic IX for supper and lodging, and became court troubadour to the king of Siam who gave me an open ticket to anywhere.  

An Italian duchess got me several visas for nations in Africa.  And in Bangalore, the maharaja of Sandur gave me his gold watch after my performance for him, his kind friends, and his collection of truly special ravens, all of whom listened so attentively to my music as to create a mystical feeling so intense I’ve never forgotten. 

 Naked villagers in the jungles of Poona gathered around me with loving smiles and listened intently to my Sonatina in D.  They gave me bananas and coconuts, and I swallowed a tear upon leaving them. 

 Another exciting musical moment was recording my Vermouth Rondo with members of the London Symphony and London Philharmonic for Purple, EMI, Regal Zonophone and Capitol Records.  It goes on and on.   


Q6 – Cristina - You have told me some great stories about your mother; tell me how in the 1960s your mother felt about you traveling around the world with your guitar, backpack and no money?

A – Moro:  She was excited about it, just as I was.  She guided me with the basics: 

 “You’re at home, wherever you are, because God is there.”

 And most helpfully she told me, “The person you see in the one to whom you speak—this is the person who speaks back to you.”


Q7 – Cristina - Musicians are always telling stories about their guitars.  I noticed you have a beautiful guitar, and could I ask who made your guitar and how old is your guitar?

A – Moro:  Thanks, Cristina.  The parts for my guitar were cut in the 1840s, aged for about a century, and assembled in 1947 by master luthier Marcelo Barbero of Madrid, known for the special quality of his Andalusian guitars.     

 

Q8 – Cristina - In spring of 2012 you came up with a book “Kin To The Wind” in which you tell us stories about your 1960s troubadour travels without ever using money.   How are people reacting to this exciting book?

A – Moro:  I love watching people react when they hear about Kin.  Glints come to their eyes, their faces come alive, and they smile a lot. During my book-signing author event at Barnes & Noble bookstore, Santa Rosa, I saw a 20-year-old local Junior College student and chatted with him for a moment about Kin.  His eyes lit up at once.  He grabbed a copy from the shelf and sat on the floor way in the back where he could be alone with it—sheltered by rows of books—and began reading it.  Three hour later, after my book-signing concluded and all had left, I peeked back there to see if he’d gone too.  He was still there on that cold, hard floor, still reading Kin, having tuned us all out.  I went out to my car chuckling.    

Before assigning the manuscript to Travelers’ Tales Books, I got a letter from an editor at Lyons Press offering to read it.  So I sent it to him, waited six months with no word, and phoned the Lyons office.  The editor-in-chief told me the young editor to whom I’d sent the manuscript was no longer working there.  He’d quit his job, she said, and taken a backpack to parts unknown.  No one knew where he’d gone or how to contact him anymore.  

It wasn’t the first time this had happened after I’d submitted Kin.  None wanted to publish it.  They just wanted to go out and be troubadours themselves.   

 

Q9 – Cristina –Many years ago I felt in love with your music but I did not know who you were.  Then one night Mary Burnett called my show to introduce your music, and rest is history.  Could you tell me how you get your inspiration to create such a beautiful music?

A – Moro:  By listening—mostly to the ocean.  The ocean teaches me a variety of beautiful things when I listen, and it constantly reintroduces me to my soul where all the music is. 

 

Q10 – Cristina - Throughout the years, I have done many shows and phone interviews with you in the ALA Cristina Show, and my audience at KKUP 91.5 FM loves your music.  I always thought that community radio was a good place for musicians to showcase their music; do you feel the same way?

A – Moro:  Needless to say, YES.  Folks LISTEN to community radio.  We’re all grateful for this kind of radio programming because it’s not just noise that we hear.  It’s music that’s honestly from the heart—a labor of love.  Don’t ever stop with this.  Keep it going as long as you can.  In short, you are keeping music alive—an important job.  Thank you, and thank you for this interview.  I liked your thoughtful questions. 

Here’s a link to Fandalism’s posted video of my Tune the Gypsy Played https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJXFIVOqUw

It’s my version of an old air of clouded origin.  A Cecil Sharpe House professional musicologist I met in London told me it was written by a southern court troubadour during the Crusades.  He put it down on parchment, using a primitive system of note writing called neumes, and hid it to avoid its destruction by authorities. 

The troubadour had to hide it because the church had won the wars, and all but liturgical music was forbidden.  The old air remained hidden for centuries until the Renaissance when it was found and lutenists began playing it all over Europe.

He told me there’s historical verification for this story but was vague about the details. 

He added that an unverified story has been handed down for decades that a gypsy once played it for composer Amadeus Mozart who tearfully declared he’d have traded all his concertos to have written it.  I call my version Tune the Gypsy Played in honor of that gypsy, so talented as to have impressed the likes of Mozart.

My guitarist friend, the late Vicente Gomez, wrote his own arrangement of the air.  He called it Romanza, and it became famous.  They played some of it during the sentimental scenes in the original soundtrack to the blockbuster film, Blood and Sand (1941) starring Rita Hayworth Linda Darnell and Tyrone Power. 

Rita often attended my shows at Paul Newman’s Factory nightclub during 1969-70.  She would stand next to me and request I play my version of the tune.  I glanced at her face from time to time as I played it for her.  She would allow herself to enter a dreamy state of nostalgia, and her very expressive face revealed her soul as she remembered the golden days of her career when she co-starred with Tyrone in Blood & Sand.


Moro Information:

www.moromusic.com

Book – Kin to the Wind...A Troubadour's Magical Journey around the World with No Money

http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608003362/Moro.html  

https://darkerthanblue.wordpress.com/purple-people/moro-buddy-bohn/

http://www.arthurshafman.com/artists/moro/index.html











Here’s a picture of me playing at the Factory as I sat on my cushion atop the grand piano