Jeff Moore & the Witch Doctors have been playing since 1999 at Cardiff bar the Kraken, known as a seaside biker bar. A lesser band would surely be drowned out by the din of motorcycles coming and going. “Exactly,” laughs Moore. “I can get the stink eye just by hauling that speaker cabinet and amp by the bartender.”
After a seven-year-long Thursday-night residency at the Kraken, it looked like the welcome mat was pulled on April 13, 2006, when Moore and club owner Doug Aldred had a disagreement.
According to one attendee, "[Aldred] approached the stage and was yelling at Jeff to turn it down, [saying], 'Why don't you play some nice quiet music for all the nice people?' It was not that loud.... Jeff gave Doug the stink-eye, staring him down.... Doug mumbled something to Jeff, and Jeff announced, 'F*ck it, see if you can keep the crowd without a f*cking band!'"
"He was laying into me with criticism after criticism," Moore alleges of the 62-year-old club owner. "About the volume, about our breaks, what songs we were playing, just a checklist of gripes for six or eight minutes.... So we tore down our gear and walked out, and most of his customers went with us."
"They were playing too loud, and it's a small club," says Aldred (who opened the Cardiff venue in May 1976). "Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don't." He confirms that the Witchdoctors are off Thursday's bill but added, "I think they'll still play here weekends sometimes."
"I don't foresee kissing and making up," said Moore at the time. However, the band ended up returning to the locale, where they still hold an annual tribute show called A Musical Celebration of Jimi Hendrix.
Moore plays Stratocasters through a variety of amps, including a Fender Vibrolux, a Fender Super Reverb, or a 50-watt 1970 Marshall. His Strats have been hot rodded with custom pickups wound by a La Costa builder named Ron Ellis. “They’re the best pickups out there.”
The band includes Rick Nash on bass and drummer Gary Nieves. “We wanna play the guitar music that we love. We just go for those tones because we love them. It’s Hendrix, Beck, Page, Clapton. It’s a classic rock thing. And we all aspire to those guitar tones. Tone junkies, I guess you could call us.”
As of 2012, the group has a standing engagement Friday nights at Calypso in Encinitas.