“A Night for Remembering” will take place Friday, Dec. 15, at Alrosa Villa
Those were the first words photographer Jeremy Moore heard his future wife, Deb Artis, say at O'Sheckys Live Bar & Restaurant five years ago. He didn't believe the 5-foot-2-inch woman with the “ridiculous smile” could possibly be looking his way until she reassured him, “Yeah, I was talking to you.”
“We hit it off and went to dinner after that,” Moore said in an early December interview at his workspace in Brick Box Studios.
“I pretty much did anything I could to scare her away,” he continued, explaining he'd just gotten out of a long-term relationship. “She just kept pushing and … one day I was like, ‘Holy shit, I'm in love with his girl.' … She basically knew before I knew.”
They were opposites in a lot of ways. His family was laid back, and her family was rambunctious. He enjoyed metal and hardcore rap, and she made him listen to acts like the Weeknd and Meghan Trainor.
“We balanced each other out,” he said.
The couple married at O'Sheckys in 2014 and had a son, now 3 years old, whom they named Orion.
“I always have harder times in the winter, like emotionally or financially. … So a lot of times it's dark out and I'd go outside and have a smoke and breathe and just relax and you look up and Orion's the biggest constellation there,” Moore said.
Orion's ability to be a grounding force in Moore's life was especially needed when Artis died in a tragic car accident on December 16, 2016.
“She was trying to pass a truck,” Moore said. “The lane was ending and she didn't see that, so she came around to go past the truck, gunned it, and ran out of ground and ended up fishtailing in front of the truck. The truck hit them and rolled them. There were five people in that car. She's the only one that [died].”
“I was an absolute mess for a few weeks and then I calmed down,” Moore continued. “[But] for the next six months or so things would make me cry like [singer] Jason Derulo. … I can't listen to R&B right now because that was her stuff.”
Moore will honor his late wife through music with “A Night for Remembering,” a concert at Alrosa Villa on Friday, Dec. 15. The show features a lineup of bands Moore has either photographed or met on the music scene. Donations received at the door will go primarily to a college fund for Orion.
“It was something that needed to be done,” said 8LB Pressure drummer Jay Coughlin, who helped organize the concert. “I felt like the music community needed to get together and give it back to [Moore] a little bit. … There's very few local and national bands that have come through Columbus or surrounding areas he hasn't shot.”
Moore described his career as “a string of ridiculously fantastic luck” that began when he filmed a music video several years ago for rap group Beyond Pluto.
“It was so bad,” Moore recalled. “There was really bad green screen work. … We had dancing Kim Kardashian dolls. There was a guy wearing a lamp shade [and] a guy with an afro with blue lips. It was a mess.”
Still, it caught the eye of Tara Cautela at Alrosa Villa. She tapped Moore to handle video for the Rock on the Range festival's “Battle of the Bands” competition. The gig led to opportunities to meet and interview acts like Gemini Syndrome, Texas Hippie Coalition and Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.
That content landed on Zombie Tapdance (ztpmag.com), an online publication Moore launched in 2013. The site features everything from concert reviews and photos of models to restaurant reviews and tech news.
“When you look at the website [you can see] it needs work,” Moore admitted. “I'm in the process of hiring a web developer to fine-tune it.” Moore also hopes to expand his roster of contributors, located throughout the country.
“It's mostly for the love of it,” he said of the magazine. “It doesn't even pay for itself.”
Moore earns his money with separate photography work through his production company, and by working a full-time job in quality control at a company that makes hydraulic pumps and other products. He was laid off from his position in 2013 and brought back last September.
For those who know him, Moore's work ethic in the midst of tragedy is remarkable.
“I've never seen anything like it,” Coughlin said. “He's obviously heartbroken. … He's a very strong man for dealing with what he had to deal with and not missing a beat at all.”
“If [Orion] wasn't here, I'd be much worse off,” Moore said. “He keeps me going, the magazine keeps me going, people that depend on me [and] look up to me, they keep me going. The local community has been ridiculously awesome. Everybody … really pulled me through.”