By DREW FISHER  |  Tahoe City

Amidst the devastation of development, drought, and a housing crisis, Moe’s Bar B Que has quietly been leading a live music renaissance in Tahoe City. That’s right, this vegetarian native of the Sierra is paying homage to a Colorado import barbecue joint. That’s because having a place where the rock ’n’ roll is too loud to complain about the snow conditions is crucial to a ski community.

Sadly, this golden era will soon come to an end when Moe’s relocates to the former Dockside 700 Lakefront Grill building in Tahoe City Marina, as reported in Moonshine’s business briefs in January. The new spot will be better for the restaurant, but it will lack a space where 200 locals and visitors can have a copacetic community get-down with high quality live music.

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I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes an exceptional live music experience. The flow of the space, vibe of the crowd, quality of sound, and chops of the band — it all needs to line up. Above all, it’s the intention behind the show that counts. During a show at Moe’s, it’s not uncommon to catch co-owner Eric Pilcher overlooking the scene with an ear-to-ear grin, bobbing his head to the music and slapping high fives. The team at Moe’s puts on their concerts with the intention of bringing people together and supporting the arts, not for money or glory.

On the Moe’s Bar B Que Tahoe City Facebook page, I scrolled through more than 120 past events since the first post in July 2014 (some concerts never made the Facebook page). The list brought back countless special memories: coasting along the lakeside bike path, being greeted with soulful serenades on the patio at sunset; packing in the upstairs room, eyes welled up with tears while we all sing along with Willy Tea Taylor. Or my favorite: quickly escaping via the outdoor staircase straight into crisp Tahoe air to cool off from dancing hard at The Stone Foxes show. Tickets were either free or affordable, with a balanced blend of local heroes to big touring acts that are well on their way to never playing a venue this intimate again.

Live music is not for everyone, I understand. In fact, it can be downright challenging to get out of the house after long days of hard work, dog walks, mountain biking, and skiing. So why does having a music venue matter to those who aren’t die-hard fans? While I had a beer with Pilcher to discuss the future of music in Tahoe, he may have said it best, “There is no such thing as a vibrant town without music, period.”

A solid music venue makes a space for the community to come together. It’s a place where we can hold fundraisers and charity events to support important causes. It’s a place where low-life locals and pesky tourists can coexist in peace and harmony. Every business in town benefits from live music: restaurants, shops, bars, taxis, and hotels. Unlike snowsports, live music does not depend on the weather. If there’s a poor snowpack, people need to get their energy out by dancing. If it’s an epic powder day, what better way to celebrate than some tail-feather shaking?

When the Moe’s music becomes no more, our community must not settle for cultural mediocrity. We must pay attention, then appreciate and support whatever becomes our next great venue, because everyone benefits from a town with a killer music scene.

~ Drew Fisher is co-founder of the Lost Sierra Hoedown and ski coach at Alpine Meadows residing in Tahoe City.

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