I formed MJMRECORDS in 2001 to help the homeless in Oceanside, CA. The vision was to use music and artwork to help get people off the streets and into rehab. Most of the people sponsored came from "The Bread of Life" rescue mission. It took 8 years to finish 3 cds: "5 Years Ago Today", "The Rapture" and "Living a Dream." These were recorded in a bedroom studio on a Roland vs1880. After moving to Chico, in Northern California, finally finished my 4th release "Summer Days." .All but two of the tracks "Sail Away" and "Shine my light" were recorded in Nashville.Special thanks to Mike Dunbar for helping produce this record.Also started painting again.Check out the art gallery page.
San diego Troubador interview
by Kent Johnson & Liz Abbott
How Michael James Moore Turned his Music into a Ministry to Help Others
In today's day and age, the papers are full of stories about celebrities who go into rehab; what you don't read about are the hundreds of people – the unknowns and have-nots – who really need the help that a rehab center has to offer. Some rehab centers, like the Green Oaks Ranch in Vista , cost money and require a sponsorship in order for someone to be admitted. If those unknowns and have-nots find themselves at the bottom rung of society, they're lucky if they can find a rescue mission just to get a meal and a warm place to sleep, let alone to find the help they need to get their lives back on track. Enter Michael James Moore.
Following five years of sobriety Moore was inspired to write a song, which came to him coincidentally five years to the day that he put the bottle down. Not only was writing the song, called "Five Years Ago Today," a life-changing experience for him, he knew that he wanted to help others to the same. Sinner became saint and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having produced two CDs since then (5 Years Ago Today and The Rapture), Moore 's motive never was to seek fame or notoriety but to help others find their way and attain their place in society. Following his father's footsteps, who has had a ministry since the 1960s, Moore found his path paved with divine inspiration and blessings.
The San Diego Troubadour went up to visit with Moore, who lives in Oceanside , to find out more about this warm and friendly man. As the three of us sat on his porch overlooking the avocado and fruit trees to the ocean in the distance, he shared his story on this lovely, balmy day.
Michael James Moore grew up in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, and, like most of his peers, spent his time surfing, drinking, getting high, playing a little guitar, and having fun. However, the drinking and getting high didn't stop, and it wasn't until he turned 40 that Moore "hit the wall." By then, though married with two children, he had pretty much dropped out of society. Moore said, "I was a mess; I was in bad shape." With his wife as the catalyst, and for the sake of his kids, he knew he had to get his life together.
Michael James Moore (MJM): After I made the decision [to quit drinking], I had to put myself in an environment where nobody was drinking and to try and connect with people who had good things going on in their lives. I was very self-destructive.
So I went to a church in my neighborhood and started working with the landscapers. I wanted to work for God, so I just showed up one day and started working. I worked all day every day and into the evening. I just needed to get clean and sweat it out.
I also decided that I wanted to do something to help others, so I'd go over to Green Oaks Ranch and pick up anyone who wanted to go, and we'd drive them to church on Wednesday nights. They'd all sit up in the front rows.
San Diego Troubadour (SDT): What kind of church? Is it progressive or traditional Christian?
MJM: It's progressive – the New Venture Church in Oceanside . That went on for about five years. I was in isolation during that time. I didn't go out, not even to a barbecue, because it was associated with beer. I was working but not socializing.
So I had this vision. I wanted to get back into music, because once you have it in you it doesn't doesn't go away, but the alcohol had snuffed it out. And I'm sitting there on the fifth anniversary that I quit drinking, and this song title pops out. I knew I had to record that song.
I'm not an engineer, but I had a small Casio recorder that I used to mix it all in and get it all done. It was my first recorded song. After that, I figured that I was supposed to die now. For some reason I believed that I was supposed to write this song and die, since my liver was probably shot. I thought I was a dead man. And then this other song popped out. And then another . . .
I'm a very introverted person. That's part of the problem with alcoholism. I started drinking because I wasn't comfortable with people. But when I quit, the songs started coming again. A year later I had an album done. It took me a year in my room. I sat here for a year punching buttons and I don't even sing.
SDT: You have a very nice voice, though.
MJM: Thanks, but it was pure luck. I really needed to get these out. I had a CD burner and I'd burn them one at a time in real time, which took me 35 minutes per CD. I'd sit there all night and burn CDs and the next morning, I'd hand them out to the homeless people on the street. I did that for a year. Then I went and bought one of those stacks that can burn 50 CDs an hour. I've probably handed out 5,000 CDs over time and that evolved into helping people down at the Bread of Life.
SDT: Is that a Mission ?
MJM: Yes. If you're at the Bread of Life, you've hit bottom. You've got no money, no food, no hope. That's how it is with the people who go there. So I went down there to see if I could help. First I started guarding their bikes. Then I was a dishwasher, a server, a guard at the door. I did all the jobs there. About three years into this, I got my first opportunity. This girl came in and she was smiling. She said, "I quit," and my heart started pounding. I called Green Oaks Ranch and became her sponsor.
SDT: That was your first case?
MJM: Yes. I went for a ride on that one, though. Up and down, up and down. About six months in, she went off the wagon. I was devastated. She moved away. But during the time I first got to know her, I wrote the song "Into the Light." I wrote it for her, you know? It's a pretty heavy song. After that, another opportunity came to sponsor someone [at Green Oaks Ranch], and then another. So it was like I was in the flow. Now people were actually coming up to me and asking for help.
So I went from writing my first song to a song about that girl, which morphed into my ministry to get people into rehab. MJM Records became a full-blown ministry from that point on. By the way, that girl called me from Idaho about three months ago. She's living on a ranch and doing very well. I was so excited. The moral of the story is that it wasn't a waste of time.
SDT: That's your reward.
MJM: It was huge. When she called, I was in a slump. Someone else I'd put into rehab had been kicked out.
SDT: And you take it personally.
MJM: It's difficult not to.
SDT: It's defeating when you try to help someone and it isn't working. You start questioning whether it's really a help or a hindrance.
MJM: Well, it's not my work anyway. I have to realize all I can do is be the vehicle and God does the work .. All I do is make myself available. I just do it. Wherever he tells me to go, whatever he tells me to say, I just do it and it always works out.
SDT: So, you are mostly there to be an ear for these people – for them to unload their burdens – and you don't deliver sermons. It's more about being a friend?
MJM: That's how I witness to them. I just go there every Wednesday. I haven't missed a Wednesday in five years. I take them sushi. I bring sushi every Wednesday night. I wondered what I could do that would be really freaky. Everybody gets Taco Bell, or McDonalds, or pizza. What's the one thing they don't get? They don't get healthy food. I wondered what would be really cool to show them that I care for them and love them? Bring them sushi! I started that years ago and it became the thing that I do. It paid off because of that girl I was telling you about. We were having a conversation and I told her I knew why she came to the Bread of Life. And she said, "It was the sushi." I was totally excited because it was a small thing I could do that had a big impact on somebody's life.
SDT: The smallest gesture may be the most important one you've ever done in your life.
MJM: It's huge. When winter rolled around, I just bit the bullet and said, "You know what? Everybody gets a hoodie !" So I started buying hoodies and I'd bring them in every Wednesday night, because it gets cold up here in the winter. It's freezing. And that had a real impact because it's tangible. I was laughing because I thought the Oceanside Police Department was probably wondering what was up. Because everywhere they looked, people were walking around with MJM Records hoodies and I was thinking I'd be getting a call from them pretty soon. But you know, they never called .
So that's what I do. I give them my CDs, I give them tee shirts, and serve them sushi, and I just shut up. I serve them coffee because I always have it ready with cream and sugar, and they think I'm the best bartender in the world. This took years and years of rapport.
I've gone from one or two people asking for help to four or five people a week now. They'll say, "I want to get straight," and I'm like, "Okay, here's the number for Green Oaks Ranch." I don't deny anybody. I tell them I'll sponsor them because the one thing I know is this: the fallout ratio is huge. For them to call every day and do it consistently and then to get in there for an interview and be accepted takes a lot of work.
SDT: So it's a matter of space availability.
MJM: Yes. So I say yes to everybody and now I have all these people in the pipeline waiting to get in. I want them to go to Green Oaks Ranch because it's the best and the people I sponsor are ready to die.
I began doing this because I knew that it was a divine gift and I made a commitment to do everything in my power to get my music out there and try to help others. I'm not a very good musician. I'm not a very good singer. I wasn't skilled enough to go out in the music world and perform and make money, so I'm not even close to that kind of stuff.I decided to use what I have to the best of my ability.