His many friends agree, Doug Moyes was larger than life. Moyes, who passed away Oct. 10 at his home near Telluride at the age of 70, will be remembered Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House, the second of two such gatherings celebrating his life.
Moyes split his time between Grand Junction and Telluride, but there was a time when Austin, Texas, was his home. A University of Texas graduate, Moyes got his start in the music business when he was 21. He and partner Tim O’Conner went in on Castle Creek, an Austin music club at Lavaca and 15th streets that experienced its heyday was in the early to mid-1970s.
Jan Reid, a Texas music historian, made note of the popularity that Castle Creek enjoyed, though making a living as a club owner was fraught with challenges.
In her book “The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock,” she wrote:
“Another popular club was Castle Creek, which leased space in the building where Rod Kennedy and partners had run the Chequered Flag. Castle Creek was intimate and comfortable enough for those who were tired of the Armadillo, but it was large enough to accommodate the rowdy crowds of a performer like Jerry Jeff Walker. Its proprietors, Doug Moyes and Tim O’Connor, had done rather well by the place, and Castle Creek’s resume of talent was almost equal to that of the Armadillo, but they had to pay the big name performers a measure of what they would draw elsewhere, which meant giving them a high percentage of the gate. The price of Austin performers was also escalating rapidly, and Castle Creek could only take in so many people. As a result, some of the performers demanded that the management clear the club and charge admission for two brief shows on one night, which was bad public relations for Castle Creek and critically diminished the liquor revenue. ‘Two bad weeks in this business hurts,’ Moyes said. ‘A bad month can kill you.’”
Moyes first made his presence known in Telluride in the late 1970s. Telluride was a wilder, woollier town then. Young people with entrepreneurial visions and counter-cultural worldviews had discovered the fading mining town and rising star ski resort, and found in Telluride a beautiful place to open businesses and put down roots.
Steve Catsman, now the director and broker associate at Telluride Real Estate Corporation (TREC), was one of those early “settlers.” He had recently arrived in Telluride from Aspen and was running The Senate bar in what was once a boarding house and restaurant. He and Moyes hit it off and spent a lot of time together playing softball and winding down at The Senate.
“He always had that ‘diamonds in his eyes’ look,” Catsman said. “He was always happy.”
To Pam Guillory, Moyes was her “brother from another mother.” She first met him in 2004, a moment she said felt as if it was meant to be.
“We got along from the get-go” Guillory said. “It was like our paths were supposed to cross.”
Like Moyes, Guillory loves to play golf, and they spent hours together on courses here and in Grand Junction.
“He was an amazing golfer,” she said. “He’s of Scottish descent, so it must be in the genes.”
More than that, she said, he was a friend who she could share anything with.
“We called each other our armchair psychiatrists,” she said. “We were kindred spirits. He had one of the most remarkable personalities of anyone I’ve ever met in my life.”
Another longtime chum, Bo Bedford, is a huge music fan and through Moyes was lucky enough to hang with the likes of the members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Ricky Skaggs, who were just a couple of the acts Moyes booked at his Castle Creek venue in Grand Junction. Bedford also met Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt thanks to Moyes’s life in the music business.
And they had something else in common; each had been busted on drug charges and sentenced to time in what Bedford calls “Club Fed.” The two bumped into each other in Telluride in the summer of 1992 and when asked, Bedford told his old friend he wasn’t doing too well, as he had just been sentenced to a stint in federal prison. From Moyes, Bedford got some valuable “tips from the inside.”
“He said, ‘I just got out. Here’s who you need to talk to,’ when I went in,” Bedford said. He joined the softball team and had a network of staff contacts to help ease his time on the inside.
Bedford also recalled Moyes as a fine athlete, accomplished at basketball and tennis, and a terrific piano player.
“He liked to come in here (the New Sheridan Hotel, where Bedford works) after hours and play the Steve Butts piano in the American Room,” he said.
But most importantly, Bedford said, “He was always a man of his word.”
Amy Taylor, who was in Moyes’ orbit from when she was 12 years old, would often croon along with Moyes — who loved the work of Townes Van Zandt — during those late-night sessions. She affectionately called him “Moyzart,” and said she loved harmonizing with him, especially on the Little Feat classic “Willin.’”
“He was so supportive of Taylor/Pale (her duo with guitarist Mike Pale),” she said. “And I loved that laugh and joyful smile. He was always a kind, inspiring and special friend to me.”
Moyes cast a wide net of people who loved him. Almost everyone who spoke of Moyes said, “you really should talk to … ”
Jena Williams remembered the distinctive sound of his laughter.
“I could be in Nepal, hear that great guffawing laugh of his — bordering on a cackle. If you know him, you know what I mean and know exactly who it was. One of a kind, man!”
Tracy Boyce’s friendship with Moyes goes back 20 years.
“Doug was so animated and really lived his life in living color,” she said. “I am grateful to have been friends with this generous free spirit. He is one that will be truly missed and never forgotten.”
According to his official obituary, Moyes “maintained homes in Grand Junction, Telluride, and his cherished mountain house outside of Sawpit, which is where he found his greatest peace.” It was there where Moyes slipped away in his sleep.
As well as his music venues in Texas and Colorado, he also promoted music throughout the Western Slope and beyond, and lent advice to musicians navigating the music business.
“Doug was instrumental in encouraging many musicians through their journey in the music realm,” his obituary read.
Survivors include his partner, Debie Sharpe, his brother David and his wife Ann, and their daughter Zoey, as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
The memorial at the Sheridan Opera House at 5:30 p.m. Saturday will feature a slide show, curated tunes that Moyes loved, and an opportunity to tell stories and share memories.