Several different live scenarios in the past week…..

…. have afforded me the opportunity to get my music out to old and new listeners.

It began on Saturday evening when I teamed up with vocalist JayKatz at the Paris Wine Bar, Philadelphia’s very best jazz lounge. I normally appear here with guitarist Tony Hughes but he wasn’t able to do this date, so Jay was a natural choice. She and I have worked together as a duo, just guitar and voice, for the past year. Our respective schedules have minimized our live dates in recent months so this was a welcome opportunity. I always enjoy performing with her and this night was no exception — we took chances and stretched some tunes and even performed others for the first time. I do look forward to more dates (and hopefully a recording) in 2015.

JayKatz & Matt Richards

Visit our duo page: http://www.reverbnation.com/jaykatzmattrichardsduo.

The very next day I performed a solo guitar concert at the East Brunswick Public Library in East Brunswick NJ. i had conducted a guitar workshop here about five years ago (which drew about 40 people), so this was a welcome return engagement. The library is a first-rate facility which also houses the local TV station EBTV. While I was concerned, at first, that the sound system was not going to accommodate my guitar, a few careful tweaks of my gear made the sound superb. I drew upon the overall energy and sense of adventure that Jay and I had on the previous night and dug into the music and opened up some new ideas in my usual repertoire. While I always enjoy performing in any format, I think I was more invigorated having two performances back-to-back. As an added bonus, EBTV filmed my entire show and will be sending a copy my way.

Solo - East Brunswick Public Library

Finally, this evening (Thursday, 12/11), I performed with my good friend Howard Miller and his group for our monthly feature of casual jazz at the Abington Presbyterian Church Parish Hall in Abington PA. This is a loose aggregation that’s been playing more than three years on a monthly basis. It’s a pleasure to get together and work with these players as it’s one of the few times I am a sideman. I play electric guitar and, on occasion, fretless glissentar. The group has developed an unique identity and includes instrumentation such as valve trombone, tenor & alto saxes, vibes, piano, bass and drums. We also feature guest vocalists such as JayKatz and Gerri Oliver. And we’ve earned a consistent, engaged following that makes each date a pleasure.

Three performances within a week that have allowed me to perform in three different aspects of my playing. The balance of the month is a bit quiet as far as public performances — this will enable to finish my CD project Balance and clear out the backlog of recorded tracks and compositional projects sitting on that hard drive in my desktop……

Until next time….

Matt

How time flies……

…. and when it takes off it becomes impossible to catch up.

Matt preforms solo – 12/7/14 – East Bruswick NJ

My absence from posting for a while had valid reasons. First and foremost, my mother was admitted to the hospital with some sort of viral infection that was of great concern given her age. Within hours, as the treatments were being formulated planned, the virus dissipated, her fever broke and she began to eat again and regain her strength and alertness. She is back at her senior residence and, though there is extra care in place, she is showing amazing actual proof of her resilience. While I was confident that her care was the very best possible, the situation weighed on my mind and my ability to concentrate on my usual ‘front office’ duties.

Of course, the ‘front office’ can only function when everything (including me) is working as it should be. A few months ago I became aware of a website based in Russia that was streaming/ offering for free download the music from my videos. Google alerts sent me an update that my name and the word ‘guitar’ were being promoted on the world-wide web. As I didn’t post this or engage in any direct action for this to appear I clicked on the link. An entire website opened before me with a myriad of free music downloads (in three resolutions no less). It turns out someone grabbed the audio tracks for most of my video files, re-engineered them in low, medium and high resolution (!) and posted them for free download. I traced the website owner back to an email address and sent a terse message. He/she/it replied in Russian which translated into ‘Can you prove you own them?’ My Google-translated reply was ‘Yes – I have legal documents’ gained a reply to the effect of ‘I can take some down’. I did reply with an extensive list — to this day they are still out there. Truth be told, I do not make a lot of money from downloads so I am losing very little. Also, the audio from the videos is not the best quality to begin with. After consideration, I decided it wasn’t worth hassling via Google Translate and figured it could actually expand my visibility. So the pirated tracks remain….

Just about two weeks ago I decided to upgrade my website with some tweaks and new photos, etc. Imagine my surprise when I discovered pages missing — I clicked on links to pages I had installed months before only to find they no longer existed! Small wonder my booking efforts were coming up short. I suspect now that the site was hacked, links to videos grabbed and the pages deleted. Why? How in heck can I know? Perhaps it’s the Mount Everest syndrome (because someone can do it and it’s there). I immediately changed my passwords and uploaded my backups, then did the intended tweaking to bring things up to speed.

Now website checking is a scheduled event, like the watchman doing rounds. I did issue an apology via the website and in all follow-ups to bookers and festival programmers.

Of course, the sessions for my solo recording project Balance continue, albeit with a freeform schedule. In fact, this is not a bad thing — my usual exaggerated attention to every detail that takes place right after the recording session is buffered and minimized. After two or three weeks I don’t recall every scratch and squeak and buzzed note that stood out at the time of the recording. So far, I am very pleased with the tracks that are in the (virtual) can.

Well, there is more to come — in fact, I’ll post again in a few days to update everyone on some gigs, new material and other things. So sorry to be away for a while — I only compose and post something when I am focused and want to communicate. I never rave and rant……

Thanks! I’ll be back soon.

 

Matt

I am still here (in case you were wondering)…..

… and the music hasn’t stopped by any means. While I had a large portion of August set aside for finishing my new recording project Balance and for my domestic projects (which involve paint, drop cloths, various tools and ladders, etc.) I did get grabbed up for several last-minute performances. I do put additional time into my practice / preparation for my gigs, of course, and I planned on bringing new material to the Lewiston NY festival — I used these dates as motivation to get the new music together.

Lewsolo818

The Lewiston festival was truly first-rate all the way. I played two shows on Saturday 8/23 – one solo acoustic, the other with my trio. In both cases, the listening audiences were wonderful – attentive and supportive. I had more than a few conversations about my music and career on  breaks and after the shows. It was stunning to have an entire town turned into the jazz center of New York state.

Trio885

My evening show included local jazz legends bassist Wayne Moose and drummer Dan Hull. I felt as if I had played with them both all of my life — great talents and really great guys. I have videos coming out soon — check YouTube.com/mattrichardsmusic for updates.

I offer my most sincere thanks to everyone who worked many months to make this really come off. Congratulations on a fantastic festival! My very special thanks to Ron for booking me and introducing me to Wayne and Dan. (FYI – they are members of his trio!)

There will be some updates coming regarding my new solo guitar CD. I’ll post more on that and some other things next time.

Thanks so much!

Matt

Music means different things to different people.

Reading Terminal Market 5/11/14

I recently recalled an episode from several years ago — a man and woman came to one of my performances and purchased a CD afterward. They related that they had my previous CD release and the woman added “We love listening to your music during dinner”. My knee-jerk reaction was to respond by snatching their recent purchase from their hands and tell them how my valuable performance, stunning technique and sublime arrangements weren’t mere backdrop music to accompany meatloaf and potatoes. However, from many hours of Buddhist chanting I was able to draw upon a higher instinct and realize that they were, indeed, complimenting me. They weren’t heavy-duty guitar aficionados; neither one played guitar at any level. Yet, they felt something when they listened to my playing and for them, to listen while they dined was, indeed, a special thing. I told them how delighted I was that they enjoyed my music and I really meant it. This was a major turning point for me as an artist and as a human being.

Reading Terminal Market 5/11/14 (#2)

I’ve performed in a broad range of settings during the past month — from the very laid-back Paris Wine Bar, to the boisterous Reading Terminal Market, to two winery tasting rooms, to a parking lot during a farmers’ market. In each setting I was able to bring the music to different people, few of whom would actually appear in every one of these venues. I don’t do this range of venues out of desperation or necessity — I realize I am communicating my musical performance to a wider variety of listeners than I could if I played only one type of venue. And while it’s a good thing for me (obviously) to broaden my exposure and fanbase, it also serves the ‘bigger picture’ for performing artists — by making people aware of music being played in my unique way I call attention to other solo instrumentalists and widen our market a bit more.

I also feel that I’ve become a more focused player and I am achieving a bit of a long-term career goal — having a recognizable style no matter what setting I play in. Whether it’s with Tony Hughes in our guitar duo or JayKatz in our guitar/voice duo or with the Philly Blues Kings, I am beginning to sound like myself. I do play appropriately for whatever setting I’m in and never ignore the music in order to gratify my ego. That’s part of my style, after all…..

Reading Terminal Market 5/11/14 (#3)

Matt

It’s about the music – it’s all good!

P1000689 Salt Lake City Airport

It has been a while since I last sat down and put thoughts to paper (virtually, at least). I avoid doing journal-like accounts of my days as that takes time out of whatever I’m doing. While I do have my BA in Journalism (!) if I try chronicling each day I get wrapped up in grammar, phrasing, sentence flow, etc. and spend too much time on composing material that satisfies the writer aspect of my life. If progress for that day was less than instantly spectacular I tend to get a bit sour in my accounts (which shoves me into cynicism, which tends to stick around). Too frequently I don’t see immediate benefits from my promo/calls/emails/EPKs – even my practicing – but the results are apparent later (days/weeks/even months). If I let myself get dragged down with a muddy attitude I lose my focus and miss opportunities and deadlines. And, as anyone involved in artistic pursuits can tell you, that attitude can shut down any sort of progress that may be underway.

One thing that tends to operate a bit under the radar (at least for me) are the various pages I am involved with on ReverbNation.com. I discovered RN years ago, primarily to utilize their easy-to-use widget audio player. Their capabilities have expanded over the ensuing years and thousands of artists and fans put these functions to good use. They do tend to focus most of their promotional and booking endeavors on popular markets (as do most of these sort of service-related sites), but they are out there and that widget audio player is still easy to use.

Here’s a listing of the current RN pages I’m part of:

http://www.reverbnation.com/mattrichards – my solo guitar and sideman projects

http://www.reverbnation.com/mattrichardstrio – Matt Richards Group

http://www.reverbnation.com/mattrichardsduo – my duo with flutist Katherine Barbato

http://www.reverbnation.com/jaykatzmattrichardsduo – my duo with vocalist JayKatz

http://www.reverbnation.com/mattrichmusic – my composition / soundtrack work

The composition page is probably new to most listeners. This is work I’ve been involved with for the past year via my use of Finale. The music falls outside of my usual material — in fact, it’s not intended to be performed live. I have orchestrated older pieces of mine and composed completely new works. While I may incorporate some Finale orchestration in my recordings in the future I’m primarily just exercising my composing and arranging skills. I do entertain the idea of doing soundtracks with the music, but it’s a whole new thing for me. (I’m a better guitarist than  composer right now….)

View from the sky above Salt Lake City airport.

View from the sky above Salt Lake City airport.

On other fronts, I’m working on the new solo recording along with performances with JayKatz, Howard Miller, Tony Hughes and Katherine Barbato (who’s back in town now).

I’ll have more updates soon, as well as some guitar/music-oriented postings. It’s time to do the late-night promo push.

See you all soon.

Matt

Coffee Break

 

 

Winter NAMM came and went….

…. and, along with my son, so did I.

The Winter NAMM Show is overwhelming — the very first time you go it will cause dizziness and severely sore feet. Then there’s confusion, disorientation and a feeling of ‘what am I doing over here when I should be over there?’ First and foremost it’s a music industry trade show, intended as a promotional endeavor for hundreds of companies that are involved in businesses relating to music. For the musicians it offers opportunities to connect with companies for endorsements, perform in both formal and informal settings for a captive professional audience and to establish the fact that you are someone worth noticing. (The NAMM Show is closed to the general public — you must have some connection/affiliation with a professional company/vendor to even walk through the doors.)

Playing a Godin Montreal.

NAMM14GGa

While I did meet up with acquaintances and make new friends, this show was hampered by the fact that our hotel (promoted as conveniently located to the convention center) was a 35-minute bus ride away that required a 15 minute walk to the bus stop and between a 30 – 50 minute wait for the bus. Taxi service was at a premium requiring up to 40 minutes wait and a hefty fare. Normally, the hotel is within convenient walking distance to the convention center and I’ve never needed a rental car. But, all things considered, we made the most of the trip, and I did meet Pat Quilter (whose transistor amps are at least as good as my favorite vintage brand (Lab by Moog)) as well as some other nice folks. The details have settled in as the weeks have passed. Rather than rant on here, I’ll get to some timely news.

I’ll be performing in my first-ever guitar/vocal duo with the incomparable JayKatz beginning in April. Actually, Jay will join me in a 2-guitar/bass/voice quartet in March at the superb restaurant August Moon. This project is also a first for me — the quartet is a drummerless group and is assembled from my duos. This is the first time we’re all playing together at the same time. In addition to JayKatz, this group includes Tony Hughes on guitar and Nick Krolak on bass.

I’ve been more involved in studio production work, most immediately in mix/edit/master work with duo recordings with Jay, and with solo recordings for my next release Balance. I do go deep when I’m involved with any recording work and 4 to 6 hours in the real world seems like 2 hours in studio time. Of course, I spend a serious amount of time sweating over every note on playbacks — I am excessively critical and I always need to give myself some space after any recording session. So, this means results of the solo sessions are pending…. I will say that I really like ribbon mics now……

I’m working with almost five hours of sleep so I believe I’ll close this posting and come back with a new one when I’ve rested a bit more. Let me offer one of my famous / notorious window shots from my trip to CA. This is just outside Salt Lake City UT.

View from Salt Lake City airport.

View from Salt Lake City airspace.

Peace.

Matt

2014 is now here…..

… and part of me wonders where 2013 went and why it went there so quickly.

To be honest, I am not lamenting the year gone by in any way — I do wish (as I always seem to do) that I was busier in more public ways (shows/performances/press). I carry a new-found determination to avoid any sort of lethargy or fatalistic feelings when I’m doing my front office work (pitching/promoting/booking). With the demise of a few performing opportunities, either with the closing of venues or the elimination of music programs in established settings, it’s all too easy to throw my hands up and start throwing the blame around. But, as I’ve found out in the past, once you go down that negative slope you drag everything along with you — I’ve done enough of this in days past to know I won’t go there ever again. (My Buddhist practice does make the difference!)

I did mention vocalist Jay Katz in a previous post along with a number of other upcoming projects. In addition to working up some tunes with her, she was most helpful in getting the lyrical phrasing in my composition How Many Times Will We Say Goodbye? together. If you’ve heard me perform during the past year you may recall my performing an original piece called Ballad, which is exactly that, a ballad. I was inspired to put lyrics to it and, since I could never sing the melody I had written, I needed expertise. I passed the chart along to Jay and not only did she tweak the melody to fit the lyrics, she actually recorded a voice/piano demo and sent it back via email at 1:30am! We did get some recording time in shortly afterward and focused on just voice and guitar in a duo. I am looking forward to performing with her soon. She will be featured on Thursday 1/16 with Howard Miller and Friends (including me) at Abington Presbyterian Church Parish Hall. Visit me on FaceBook (http://FaceBook.com/MattRichardsguitar) for specifics on the show.

Vocalist Jay Katz

Vocalist Jay Katz

I finally recorded solo guitar performances for my long-delayed solo album Balance. I had been plagued by electrical ‘gremlins’ when I attempted to set up my home studio. I’d have all sorts of squiggles and buzzes and even AM radio in the signal path no matter how I attempted to filter things. I finally devised a way to record without plugging into an outlet. It seems to have worked! Now, I just need to like what I played…..

For the guitar-oriented readers: I recently followed the advice of my long-time friend and guitar-physician extraordinaire Jack Romano regarding tuning angst with the 3rd string on my LaPatrie cutaway classical – a wound G string! It worked! I’ve tried both steel-wound (GHS) and nylon-wound (Savarez) and they both work perfectly. No more compromises in high positions! I’ll eventually settle on one and let everyone know.

I am getting ready to head off to CA for the Winter NAMM Show — I’ll check in with my thoughts about this music-trade-show adventure next time.

Time to practice!

Thanks.

Matt