Sept 5 - 5:56 am - Matt
I'm very proud of two things in my life, or should say, most proud. I get these little proud bombs that happen randomly, mostly from Atticus. But the two things I'm MOST proud of are both due to time.
I'm very proud of the way I play my instrument. I'm not conceded or arrogant or delusional about it - there's about a zillion better guitar players out there (I'm not even the best guitar player in my band! Where I'm the only guitar player!) but I feel very proud of the work and dedication to the instrument. I might not be as good as I can be (ah the hours of time NOT playing come to haunt me) but I'm damn close. I've been playing for 30 years.
I'm so very proud of my partner in crime, Les. Love driven, wishful thinkin', music blaring Les. She's always been so excellent. And I'm so proud I get to stand beside her in this mad world. We've been together for 30 years.
I still spend time looking back at my 15 year old self. He wasn't yet his best self - but he made a couple of great decisions. To me, these are success stories. I still love and play the guitar everyday.
And Les always has my heart, in her hand, warm.
Aug 14 - 7:34 am - Matt
It's been about a month since I've written here. Summer moves so fast, filled with mini events and chores and stuff.
The last week or so has been the hardest in years. Severe medical concerns for someone I love dearly, I had to ask to postpone the Capitol show. I was needed elsewhere.
Things are on the up, and I'm grateful. Lots of time reflecting on mortality and connection. What does my life...mean? Pretty stereotypical for a guy in his mid 40s to be thinking these things I guess, but true all the same. I'll continue to ponder.
For all my friends that have reached out offering their time and love, I say thank you.
July 12 - 8:59 am - Matt
It's been good times. Writing, connecting, ticking things off the list and reflection. I was able to get on the radio and promote the record, sent the album to a few other radio stations and posted the record for digital sales. I feel like I'm doing all the right things, though we could be gigging more - but no complaints. I hope to have a few shows in September around the county. We'll see.
I've been, in the space I have, taking the time to listen to myself. I've never really done that before in a front-of-mind way. I've spent plenty of time reacting to urges, sometimes with damning effect. This is very different and new. And to my great surprise, safe. My true core self has a lot to say and if and when I listen, I find myself inspired.
Getting to know myself is a wild thing. I've taught myself some great lessons and the benefits are extraordinary.
I'm not mad at or disappointed in myself like I thought I was.
When I have something to say and I listen, I feel settled. At piece with whatever topic it was.
I'm closer everyday, but I must keep walking.
The better I know myself, the less afraid I am of sharing myself with others. I pour my heart into my lyrics - pure exposure, though I write cryptically, I know what I mean. I will continue to share.
Getting to know me has some cool unexpected benefits. I'm more confidant without being arrogant - I believe in myself as I see who I'm' believing in. Someone that's worth belief.
I can inspire me.
So cool stuff these days. I'm almost at 4 new songs, which is a crazy hot streak for me. Plus a tattoo appointment coming soon!
June 29 - 7:28 am - Matt
I'm feeling all sorts of creative lately. I've demoed two new Buzzes songs, written a song for a friend, completed playing guitar and bass for a single...it's all flowin' right now. Then an idea hit.
I've mentioned my friend Nermin in previous posts I think but I'll do a recap :
Nerm was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. When he was in his teens, the war started. Nerm, as a Bosnian Muslim, was hunted. He escaped to Turkey and bounced around Europe until his papers came in, bringing him to Canada as a Refugee.
I met Nerm in second year. I was asked to try out for a band (on bass) and he was the guitar player. Extraordinarily talented, we hit it off very quickly.
Fast forward 25 or so years, and Nerm is thriving in music, his professional life, and in family. His story, which I've barely touched, is one that I think about often. It reinforces my compassion and empathy for the challenges in people's lives. Nerm is an inspiration to me in so many ways.
His amazing partner, Adisa, also has a story. Also from Sarajevo, she made her way to the US where she and Nerm would form a band and fall in love.
Their story together is extremely powerful. It's one I've wanted to tell for a long time but didn't really know how until yesterday. The idea is a concept album of sorts, each song telling a part of their story - Pre war, war time, post war - all with music as their through line. They both love music so much, it's a character in this story to be sure.
The music should all have a traditional Bosnian feel - bare minimum it's in the drumming and time signature - however, as the album/story changes from Europe to North America - so should the music. The Bosnian feel should come out, or fall back through the final 3rd of the record, then, last song, it comes back strong.
Lyrically this is a massive undertaking. Not unlike writing an opera, the entire story will be told in song. The fun part is that each song can change perspectives - 1st person Adisa, 3rd person, etc. The ambitiousness of the project, however, lies in the fact that I believe it should be sung in Bosnian. I wouldn't be the singer on this project...Adisa is a fabulous singer, in any language, and they have a great band mate that is an excellent singer himself. So the biggest commitment will be working on the translation. With Nerm and Adisa's help, we can do our best to make poetry in their language.
I'm seeing them this weekend (so excited) where I'll pitch them the idea.
June 23 - 1:43 pm - Matt
I don't often write in the afternoon here - I'm more of an early morning kind of guy when it comes to putting my thoughts down. I have, however, been able to write poetry or lyrics whenever it strikes. The past while though - no strikes.
I attribute this to all the work we put into the album, getting the release sorted out, organise organise organise. Time has past though and I'm back at the guitar, ideas flowing and the lyrics are catching up too. 1 song done, another almost there and a tune I wrote for a friend (music only)
All this to say, as the world I've engaged in winds down for the summer, including the volunteering I do, I'm finding happiness and inspiration in the spaces left behind. I'm tempted to fill them with projects sometimes, but for the most part it is a stillness I feel. The album was the first big project I completed that was pretty much just for me. The work is as much Joel's and John's, but they were serving the songs and in tern, me. I've never felt more content in a job done and I'm trying to hold onto that. Between that contentedness and the recent time at the Gulf, I'm really good. And it's all flowing again.
P.S. when I feel this happy, I right away book an appointment with my Therapist. If I can learn how to avoid what makes me depressed, surely I can learn what brings me joy.
P.P.S. The fireflies are out at dusk again. A carpet of fallen stars.
June 18 - 8:30 am - Matt
When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I gigged a lot. Like a bunch. I was in a band called Dropping Poppies, formed at University. I hated school, but I loved this band. I still do - we remain not only friends but best friends. I love these guys and always will. How could I not? Not including Les, Nerm, Mike, Mika, Jon - they were not just there as I was turning into the person I wanted to be, but they helped me become that person. And that songwriter. Talented and creative, all I had to do was bring them a riff, a progression, anything and they'd make it amazing.
I distinctly remember we were jamming once (1997 or 98) working out the little details of a tune called Muddled. The vs guitar was a wee flat, without that spice I usually like and we all agreed. Nerm played this cool little lick on the half bar and Mike said to try that thing I did on the second half. When it worked out (still one of my favourite parts of any of the songs) we all lit up and must have ran that song for another 15 minutes, just so we could all taste the delicious thing we'd collectively created. When I say I love those guys, I really mean it.
We're scatted all over now, from wee Grafton to Detroit to Busan, Korea. Not all of us still play music, but those that do have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to it. And boy oh boy are they good. We see each other (excluding Mike - Korea is far) as much as we can, two or three times a year (Covid years excluded) and it's always the same. Smiles and love. Our families all get along and love each other too - another gift.
I digress - back to gigging. We gigged all the time and it was my favourite thing. Over the last 15 years I'd guess I've played maybe 15 shows, almost all cover gigs. When we played the record last week, live, with a full band, it almost took my head off the rush of memories and feelings. All these chemicals in my brain FREAKED OUT as they flowed for the first time in decades. Standing on stage, original music, a crowd that was into it...I was 25 again.
So as I promote the album, I'm focused on playing live more. We've got a gig at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope on August 12 that I'm very excited for (go to the Events tab to get your tickets). I hope you make it out.
June 13 - 8:17 am - Matt
I didn't write anything yesterday as I was still digesting all that happened on the 11th. It was pure magic. Family and friends (new and old), an amazing band - I had such a great time. The food was delicious (Thanks Chef's Catering!), the crowd was ready for some live music. And sure enough, the weather stayed away.
We played the full album and a few covers so Beth and Catherine could show their stuff. The audience was responsive and the wee ones were into it.
One of my favourite things about the show was how many kids were there, running around, making new friends and playing. Seeing people together again is something we desperately need - to connect at the community level, pulled together by the magnetism of art, in this case, music. My art.
The feedback we got was amazing. People like the music. They related to the lyrics and that to me is very very rewarding. Someone even said that I'm a storyteller. Wow. That's exactly how I very quietly see myself, a storyteller, an ancient roll in our species. Every culture in every corner of the world has their traditions, but storytelling is one we all share, along with music and dance. These primal things speak to me deeply. To be identified as such is indescribable. Someone saw my soul that day and I'll never forget it.
Saturday was a first in many ways for me. Not only the first album of my career, I've never fronted a band before. I was always the guitar player, my fear of singing and huge disbelief in my voice making me more than happy to work with singers that had Voices. It was never bad - these singers (I was fussy) we're all able to help create sounds and tones that I never could. They unshackled me from all the restraints I thought my voice had and I could write music freely, knowing they would do amazing things on it I couldn't, and expand the Sound. I love them for what they did (looking at you Mike and Catherine) and believe I'm where I am because of them.
I'm proud of how far my voice has come. I'll never be a SINGER singer, but I've found my Voice, and it's part of me and I'm glad to have found it. I find, of course, that I'm freer than ever to write whatever I feel like writing musically - knowing that I can find a melody and that I should be singing my words.
That's a lot for one day. Love you all.
June 11 - 9:10 am - Matt
The 11th is here. The property is ready, everything is in order. We wait for the weather gods to make their decision, but it looks good.
Les and I have been hard at work and it's showing.
It's difficult to describe how I feel now that the day is here. This event, this moment is a culmination of my life's work. I don't say that lightly - I wrote my first song at 15, tracked my first song at 17 and I've been dreaming of a full album ever since. 30 years man. Why so long you ask? Life of course. And a spoon full of self doubt. I've always relied on other musicians to lift me up, make me sound better - fuller. Joel and John are excellent humans that have done just that, but for the first time (like ever) I'm confident that I could play this record alone and it would still get across what I want to get across. Therapy and reflection have me in a good place. I believe I'm enough.
Thanks to all the support I've gotten. See you today
June 9 -5:36 am - Matt
Learning how to roll with what comes at me is a newer skill - typically I would envision an event, plan it perfect, then melt with disappointment if anything deviated from my vision. Not so much anymore.
The CD release plan has changed and shifted many times from the original concept. We were going to film it, now we aren't (due a personal situation that needs to be managed by the film maker), the set list has changed a bit, weather is a wee threatening. I'm not sweating any of it. We'll record the show on audio, the set is still tight and we'll all hope for sun. What else can be done? The band is ready and sooo talented. There's something very rewarding to hear your music played by a willing group. Decades of practice, performance, deep music knowledge and skills playing these songs is a gift.
2 more days.
June 8 - 8:51 am - Matt
The 11th is so close. I'm filled with all sorts of feelings - confidence, nerves, anticipation...and peace. I'm not used to that last one. Before shows I often get very nervous to the point of panic attacks. Mostly when I do theatre, I get filled with a very serious fear, rooted in self-doubt, but music is different. And my music is even more different. This album is an accumulation of my life's work. It IS my life's work, finally laid out for all to hear. I've listened to the record all the way though (more than once) and I'm so proud of it. For the first time it's more than 'good enough'. I'm filled with peace as the album does what I wanted it to. The sounds in my head are down on tape, enhanced by spectacular performances for all the amazing collaborators. In my heart, I know it's good, not just good enough.
I'm also a bit of a host-glutton. I love a party. Les and Atticus are amazing hosts and I love taking care of people when they're at my home. The fact that the show is at my house makes it even more special.
I'm so glad to be sharing this special moment of mine with all of you.
June 3 - 7:12 am - Matt
Back from vacation. What a trip - I feel very re-connected with the Earth and Humanity. It was a special one.
I've hit the ground running since my return with June 11th quickly approaching. A sound gig and a jam on Sunday, sub rehearsals through the week and work. And family! Les and I got to spend time in our very Special Place - the Gulf. The Church of the Gulf, it can perform miracles just by existing. Have you ever been healed with all of your senses alight? The feel of the water, the roar of the water, the blue of the water, the salt of the water. Fight or submit, the Gulf will always win. So submit, and bob and feel the energy of a Forever of tide. Connect with the Moon, as it pulls you both towards something else - how far will it go? How far will you? Out beyond the break you float and squint because behind you the sun is exploding against the horizon and the clouds show their depth and hundreds gather, as we always have, along the beach, to quietly, drink in hand and loved ones close, watch our life die in the waters, to be reborn the next day.
May 17 - 7:08 am - Matt
I haven't written here in ages. It's been a very busy time with shows, completing the album etc. I'm looking forward to a rest.
The video for Meet me in Magnetawan is out there, which is very cool. I'm so proud of the process - totally collaborative, which is my favourite. Gathering creatives and watching them do their thing is almost a hobby. I love watching it happen, I love being a part of it.
Tomorrow I leave for vacation - one we've been planning for what seems like years (because it HAS been years) and I'm certainly ready for it. We're going to be by the Gulf of Mexico - or as I call it the Church of the Gulf. It's spoken to me since I first saw it. A place to heal, to get strong and rested. I dipped my son's toes in the Gulf when he was 3 months old - as close to a baptism as we'll ever get.
May 3 - 6:48 am - Matt
More dates confirmed (August 12 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope) and the album is so close. It's often like this...I coil up all winter, then when spring does it's thing I spring too. I haven't had this much music in my life since I was 20 or so. It feels so right, what I'm supposed to be doing. Some cool stuff:
Solo gig on Saturday
Album sent to the printers Sunday
Music Video final cuts coming next week
June 11 approaching
April 13 - 6:11 am - Matt
I've been writing a lot of poetry these days - almost one a day. I'm quite happy with the process - pouring out these little bursts of ideas, shaping the words, finding the point of it. It's keeping the lyric side of my brain sharp. My usual process is to write music, then add lyrics - I rarely go the other way - lyrics first. In the past, if I was inspired to write a lyric, I would but I was almost never able to fit them into a song. I have books of lyrics floating around that never got music. I'm planning on going back over the old ones and who knows?
Some cool news: I've got a couple of solo gigs on the books at Arthur's Pub in Cobourg. I haven't gigged since last summer so I'm very excited. April 29 and May 7 - come on out if you can.
April 7 - 6:57 am - Matt
I've been thinking a lot about the concept of Being Seen. I've felt that for most of my life I've been unrecognised for who I really am. People 'see' me and lots of assumptions come up, none of them accurate. I consider myself a dreamer - a forward looker with hopes for us all.
I hate the idea of not giving people a genuine chance to tell me their story. I'm 100% invested in people's stories these days. How else can we learn the real lessons - what folks have actually experienced matters to how we should shape ourselves. If we can take a minute to listen, truly listen, we can go so far as a people.
Like I said, I'm a dreamer.
April 4 - 7:57 am - Matt
A lot of reflection this weekend. I've been in a fairly manic state (Bipolar II) for about 2 or 3 weeks, running around dreaming of the future, accomplishing next to nothing and what I did do was not quality. I came crashing down mid-week as I found out that I didn't get selected for a position I was very excited for. I'm grateful really - I hadn't been living in reality for a bit and this woke me up to myself, a very unfiltered look into the mirror and I understood. I understood why and I understood what. I hold no grudges (quite the opposite) and as the disappointment fades, I go back to the things that make me whole and happy.
I spent the weekend with no agenda (for the first time in a year) and hung out with the family, took Atticus out for some fun and recharged. On Sunday Les and I went to a poetry reading, accompanied by music. It was perfect. I got to see friends, hear truthful words and beautiful music.
Life can be special.
Mar 26 - 6:31 am - Matt
Lots of good omens these days as spring comes around. Cool animal sightings, more time outside, happy chickens. The album is coming along nice and I'm feeling happy about the progress.
I'm feeling really alert to the changing winds in my life right now - I'm tuned into it and I feel like change is in the air for me. I don't exactly know what that will look like, but I'm ready to embrace it.
Mar 6 - 7:30 am - Matt
I got a sun lamp which I'm currently using and loving. February ends and light starts to shine and I soak it up. I went to a show last night at The Loft in Cobourg. Despite the masks, it felt like going back in time - a happy house full of people, three amazing musicians on the stage - I had a blast. Jazz means so much to me. The entire concept of improvisation means so much to me. I genuinely believe that I've felt more emotion come out of Coltrane's sax, Miles' horn, Pass' amp, Billie's voice, than anywhere else. The movement of the music is so pure an outpouring of expression and to a rhythm. It's the same reason I love hip hop so much. The flow, the stream of consciences, the total immersion in the moment. I love it so much.
Feb 23 - 6:35 am - Matt
February is a garbage month for me. I get deep in the downs and it's tricky to navigate my way out. It requires effort, which is the first thing that abandons me when I'm down - effort.
My current go to to feel better is having conversations with new people. I've had two really fascinating conversations this week and it's helped. I gained perspective and in one case, made a very cool new friend.
As for the band, things are clicking along nice. We're just wrapping the last 3 songs, all drums are tracked - we're getting close. We're starting to look and book gigs for the summer. If you happen to have any leads - hit me up!
Feb 20 - 6:50 an - Matt
We would catch fireflies in the darkness
cup our hands together and see them glow
get the jar, poke some holes
small light and laughter
when we were 9 years old
I write a lot, in bursts, small stories that make me feel like I'm capturing something...a perfect memory or a haunting one. Not everything becomes a lyric. Sometimes it just needs to be said, free of a chord structure or time signature - just free and out of me.
Feb 17 - 6:00 am -Matt
Climbing out of a steep and deep depression is a brutal game of endurance that I suck at. And it's made worse by the fact that I'm not taking my own advice. I went scrolling and sure enough, you can add frustration and anger on top of the depression.
I continue to see the same people in charge have no idea what they're talking about due to the fact that if they've never experienced something it's not real. I'm livid with the old regime who's lack of empathy or basic common decency to just LISTEN leads us further down a road that isn't just crumbling, but actually ends. Other people's roads not only matter, they're often better. How can we not listen?
Enough of that. I'm working on the set for the CD release party this morning and I fell better.
Feb 16 - 5:30 am - Matt
Sleepless nights mean day dreams. Ah well.
I've been thinking about the term Sphere of Influence - I don't know if that's been coined, but I like the way it sounds - the image it creates. Not too long ago this was the part of my life that confused me the most or made projects seem daunting. By shrinking my sphere, by having humble and achievable expectations of any outcome, I find that I'm doing my best work.
I do a lot of charity work (see the Friends and Links page) and the results are meaningful, both to the organisations and to me. All of the time I devote is within Northumberland, one on one and group work, showing youth how to find joy in music. I've found that I get all the good feelings now that I've adjusted what success looks like. It doesn't have to be turn these kids into rock stars in 3 months - it's about watching these amazing people discover a new way to communicate their feelings and their true selves through a medium that brings them joy. Every time I see one of my students 'get' something - watch the energy fill their bodies and see them dig in to get it again...pure gold. Why? Because I, to this day, react the exact same way when I get something on the guitar or cello, or whatever....a huge hit of adrenaline and a feeling of accomplishment so great I don't want to stop playing ever.
Watching these young folks experience something I seek, that feeling, is just so rewarding.
So think small and achieve big.
Feb 14 - 6:19 am - Matt
I've been trying to find my place in the world over the last couple of years. The journey for me has started with a lot of self work - therapy, discovering what genuinely makes me happy and pursuing that, and finding my self worth. It's a hard road, when self image is an issue, when fear of not being accepted is an issue. Therapy has done wonders - progress in lots of places. That progress has given me the privilege to re-contextualise my priorities, my day to day...everything. So how is that a good thing? How has that helped?
My place in the world matters. One of the best highs I can get is encouraging others to follow their dreams and I cheer loudly for folks that take that step. But what does that mean for me?
I'm purposefully shrinking my world to a realistic size and doing what I can to positively influence that. I can't change the world, but I can influence my community, encourage others to do the same, and lead by example. As we've all seen over the last few years, representation, actual living examples matter and I want to be an example of growth and change and usefulness.
I could go into a very long rant about why we need examples, why the world is so broken, but ultimately for me it comes down to this: We've outsourced everything that made us human in the last 30 years to someone else. Hey Google! What do I want for breakfast? Alexia - turn up the heat. Facebook will tell me what my friends are up to. If a company could figure out how to breathe for you they'd do it, sell it and we'd buy it. When everything is monetised it's sold for the cheapest price. We've cheapened the things that are actually priceless as they make us humans.
Things I do to regain my lost humanity:
Cook over fire, outside
Make all the Art
Raise livestock (in my case, chickens)
Break bread as often as I can with others
Share and receive wisdom based on individual experience and perspective
These literal basics of what makes us human have brought great comfort to me, and make me a better person for others and that's the mission.
Feb 13 - 6:36 am - Matt
Organising the CD Release party is taking a lot of mind-space right now, in a good way. I've been writing music for over 30 years, I'd guess I've written over 200 or so songs, but I'm glad that it's this period of my life that I'm capturing on tape - I'm such a different person than I was even 5 years ago, let alone 20. I'm still a fan of the songs I've written in my past, but they don't reflect who I am today. Chronicling one's growth through their art is a fascinating thing, but I can do without it. I look backwards often, for inspiration and learning, but I'm not often proud of who I was in those days - very far from my true core self. Much of what I wrote was in anger or frustration at not understanding who I was/should be or simply embarrassed about who I was. I've done a lot of growing up in the last few years, claiming my space as a grown up and what that means and what comes with that. as I grow closer to myself, my music reflects that. I feel this music is me through and through.
Feb 6 - 6:19 am - Matt
Up since 4:30 - the new tattoo is amazing, but it woke me up. Oh well, at least it's the weekend.
I've been thinking about writing a song called In the Abstract. The idea is the difference between the preconceived outcome of an event and the actual outcome. I spend a lot of my time, too much, casting myself forward into events or moments, reviewing every possible outcome and attempting to plan a graceful way to handle every outcome. It's exhausting and fruitless as almost always the event plays out in a way I didn't expect: without incident. So the difference, and the feelings I get before, during and after any event is the scope of the tune. I need to pick an event, a perspective (1st person?) and develop a lead, the voice telling the story.
Lyric writing is funny to me - I have a background in theatre as well, mostly acting, and I try to build a character in my lyrics the same way I would for a play. It's just another kind of storytelling - if the story is to be good, we must not only believe the story, we must understand that the person singing is a creation too. I will always think of Gord Downie's lyrics to Bobcaygeon, a cop in Toronto finding love in a rural area, ready to give it all up to live where it all lined up - In the cop's heart and even the stars. Perfection.
Feb 5 2022 - 7:14 am - Matt
I'm getting a tattoo today. Tattoos, for me, are another way to collaboratively tell someone's story. A person with a vision, an artist with the skills...magic. I have a bunch of tattoos already (9 - I just counted) and the day of I always feel the same thing....a blend of excitement and fear, both battling to be in front. The excitement is self explanatory I think. The fear is always centred around the image - is this what I want forever on me....mostly this is caused by the fact that I haven't seen the stencil yet. I trust the artist I'm going to, he did my last tattoo which I love, but fear is here all the same. Once I see it though I'll chill, excitement will be in the driver's seat and I'll be A-OK.
Let's get to the hurt part. Tattoos hurt. They hurt good, they hurt bad. The hurt is something that I don't quite crave, but I'm not afraid of. I've got a small background in self harm, nothing serious or dangerous, but I feel I have an understanding of the connection between pain and control. I'd rather jump off a bridge than inflict pain, but controlling MY pain, is...comforting...because it's a decision I made. It's not a surprise, it's not unwanted. Also, it gives me a piece of art that will be with me forever.
Side note: If there is a downside to tattoos, it's that you have to shave the area you're getting inked. I pre-shaved my entire left forearm and it looks so gross. I'm a hairy dude, and it's....unnatural.
Feb 4 2022 - 6:30 am - Matt
I'm awake, as usual, very early. I fell asleep last night with music in my head and sure enough that same tune woke me up in the early morning hours. I grabbed a coffee and sat down to shape the tune, In the Before Times, on my computer. Fake light and the no-noise sounds of pre-sun days, I put on headphones so I don't wake anyone. I do my best to capture what I hear in my head, but sometimes close enough has to be good enough. Dreams shift - exact replication isn't the goal but to make sure the feeling I get when I listen is the same feeling I get when I wake up with the music in my head. That's a big part of how I judge my music - does it make you feel something unexpected? Does it communicate they way I felt when I wrote the song?