I was asked to send a bio for use at one of the conventions I’ve been invited to play at. I jotted down something I wasn’t happy with. I turned to people who know me, and my old friend Blind Lemming Chiffon, a Denver-area musician, wrote the following. Thanks, Lem.
Five years before the first Moon landing, in a place few people speak of (otherwise known as California), Moss began playing songs and writing guitars. In 1981, we had a Worldcon in Denver, where Kathy Mar discovered filk, and a few months later, I went to my first MileHiCon. Ted Sturgeon was the GoH, and I remember filking in the con suite with Moss and Kathy (who had a band in which Moss was keyboardist, an odd thing in itself as he does not play keyboards). At the 1982 MileHiCon and in subsequent years, I remember filking with Moss, Kathy, Anne Prather, and many others, as we outgrew the con suite, and even had music guests a few times. Moss and I haunted open mikes from Denver to Boulder, and he introduced myself and others to the tunes of Stan Rogers. He also acquainted me with much music that has stayed with me to this day, from Klezmer to Uncle Bonsai to Rory Block. Once we were stuck in a blizzard in a VW microbus on a lonely Colorado mountain road on the way home from Colorado Mountain Con in Vail (sadly, Ted Sturgeon’s last con) and we got out to put chains on the tires. I think when you’ve helped someone put on chains in a blizzard on a desolate mountain, it gives you a right to call them “friend.” Moss is my friend.
In 1990, Moss left Colorado for Detroit, and became “the filker to be named later in the Marty Burke trade” (Tim Ryan’s phrase). It was right about then he began writing filk songs (as opposed to the more broad category, “songs”) and hanging out with folks like Tom Smith, Tim Ryan, Steve Macdonald, Dave Alway, John Philbus and . . . so many. I shared a room with Moss at my first two filk cons, OVFF in 1992 and 1993. Great times. After Detroit, he moved around like a radar blip, hither and thither, but never yon. His current residence is in Blaine, TN, just outside Knoxville.
I’ll say this much about the songs Moss writes: you need to hear them. He’s quite a talented writer, if not as prolific as I’d like him to be. Still, he’s done 3 songbooks, and his album is available on Bandcamp . I’m not sure whether his accomplishments as a writer are in spite of or because of his lifelong struggle with disability, perhaps a combination of both. He’s very open about his disability and has written extensively about it in his blog.
In recent years, I’ve encouraged him to get himself to the Raleigh NASFiC, and to GAFiLK, where I’ve watched him thrive in filk circles and make many friends in the community.
If I could trade my own singing voice for someone else’s, Moss is someone whose voice I wouldn’t mind having. Whether singing his own songs or from his extensive repertoire, he has an ability to bring the songs alive and make them his own that is something I hope you will enjoy as much as I do.
– Blind Lemming Chiffon
[Moss’ CD is available at http://mordewis.bandcamp.com, titled “All the Love”, only $10 including bonus cuts, and some day to be a real physical CD; all Moss’ song lyrics and some recordings may be found at his website, http://peacefulhippo.info]