Dwight Moody? If he is moody, perhaps it is because of mistaken identity issues. It often happens that when people meet this mild-mannered elder statesman of the Appalachian fiddle, they fall to their knees in prayer, or get up and start to boogie. Neither is the reaction Dwight Moody is looking for, although in the latter case there is at least a family connection. The fact that one of the most famous 19th century evangelists was named Dwight L. Moody tends to cause the former reaction, while the activities of the fiddler's children are responsible for the dance moves, and plenty of them.

The Charlotte-based Dwight Moody, with his wife Cathy Moody, started their sons in the performing life quite early. The boys Carlton Moody, David Moody, and Trent Moody were all singing and playing on the Moody family's local gospel television show from about the age of seven, and formed their own Moody Brothers band in the late '70s. In the mid-'80s, the group scored big with a souped-up, line-dance style version of the fiddle standard "Cotton Eyed Joe," and the senior Moody rejoiced right along with them, since he played a nice fiddle solo on the track as well as on many other recordings by his sons. The boys eventually garnered two Grammy awards and an overseas hit with their recordings, as well as a residency at the French Eurodisney Frontierland beginning in 1992. All of these developments were more than just helpful for the family-owned Lamon label, which has released several fine recordings by Dwight Moody as well as most of the sons' records.

Dwight Moody was born in Virginia, where he was taught to play fiddle, guitar, and mandolin by his aunt and uncle. In his early years, he was part of the Carolina Woodchoppers band, making several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Since then, Moody has also played and recorded with Roy Acuff, Red Foley, and Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys. Bluegrass scholars become quite moody themselves when the latter subject comes up, as the second cousins Dwight Moody and Clyde Moody, both fiddlers who have worked with Monroe, are often mixed up with each other.

In 1993, Dwight Moody joined the Charlotte string band the Briarhoppers, which was originally formed in the early '30s. The number of players who have passed through this outfit is enough to populate a suburb, of which Charlotte has many. Some residents of the city even remember when there was an attempt to create a suburb called Briarhopper just to house past and present members of the group. At the point when Moody joined, the only member claiming to date back to the early days was bassist and singer Don White, 92 years old when the group received an award from the Charlotte Folk Life association. Moody was brought in to replace the ailing Fiddlin' Hank, ordered by a doctor to cut back on his concert appearances. Moody hopes to outlast them all, his attitude being, "once you're selected to be a Briarhopper, you're there until the end."

The elder Moody is credited, or perhaps should take the blame, for encouraging the music career of Charlotte's Renelvis (real name: Rene Escharcha), an Elvis Presley impersonator from the Philippines. Moody is also a member of Mac McHale & the Oldtime Radio Gang, with banjoist, mandolinist, and vocalist Bobby Boothby, bassist Cebren Brown, and guitarist/lead vocalist McHale. This group has released two CDs of old-time and bluegrass music. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi