|Photo by: Provided|
Nelsonville Music Festival is no stranger to the singer-songwriter. Or the banjo. Those things just come naturally when one considers a folk and bluegrass festival.
The No-Fi Cabin at the festival particularly embraces the solo artist. At the small, old schoolroom, musicians perform unplugged in an intimate setting for patrons who want to absorb everything possible from the notes being played. It's a special element (one of many) that the annual festival provides.
Therefore, it makes sense that singer-songwriter Matt Bauer would embrace the No-Fi Cabin at Nelsonville Music Festival. On Sunday, Bauer will follow his tour mates Mount Moriah and Horse Feathers to Nelsonville, but while they rock out on the Porch Stage, Bauer will bring his act to the cabin. And this is sure to work. His music is beautiful and haunting, though it still manages to be folky in its roots.
ACRN recently talked to Bauer about performing, his current tour and his musical influences.
ACRN: For those who might not be familiar with you or your music, can you start off by telling us a little bit of your history?
Matt Bauer: Sure. I'm from Kentucky, and then I lived in San Francisco for a while, and I've been in New York now for about six years or so. I just released my fourth record. I don't know; it's hard to describe yourself.
ACRN: Understandable. I've read that the theme of your latest album, The Jessamine County Book of the Living, is based on your Kentucky hometown. Is there anything specific that inspired that?
MB: Well, my last record [Island Moved In The Storm] was centered around this almost kind of a murder mystery of someone who was murdered in 1968 in where I grew up. And for the longest time people couldn't figure out who this person was and how it was revealed. Then, enter this investigator who figured out who this person was. And, I don't think the songs are really that grim, but the whole album centered around the death of this woman in her late teens or early 20s.
So, here, I was trying to do something that's not necessarily the opposite, but just more about life. I guess it has a lot to do with the abundance and variety of nature and life and things around where I grew up in Eastern Kentucky and Central Kentucky where I lived. That's where the album gets its title from.
ACRN: In general, how much has your upbringing influenced your music?
MB: I think it's mostly the places. A lot of time people are influenced by the music around them growing up. But, for me, it's more about these places, not exactly the landscapes...but I guess the things that are connected to them.
Something that comes up a couple of times on the record has to do with places where the city starts to meet the country or the suburbs or the woods. When I started growing up, we lived outside on the edge of town, kind of in the woods...And now the suburbs have grown out past the woods where my parents still live. They have these kinds of things where there's coyotes in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and there's these two sort of worlds colliding with each other.
ACRN:I feel like that happens a lot. I know in my hometown, there's a bunch of deer and animals running around, and it's like "Don't worry, it's just the airport."
But speaking of growing up, who are some of your musical influences?
MB: I'd say one of the biggest ones is Bill Monroe. He was a songwriter, but he kind of did everything that I would want or hope to be. He was a great songwriter and singer and instrumentalist. He kind of revolutionized the way people play the instrument that he played [banjo] and was a great band leader. He's kind of the main thing that got me into bluegrass music years ago.
Also, David Bowie and a lot of his earlier stuff through the '70s was huge to me too. As a writer and his imaginings of these whole worlds and his vocal delivery--that's all a huge influence on me.
ACRN: Now to turn to touring. You just started a tour with Mount Moriah and Horse Feathers, who are also playing Nelsonville Music Festival. How's that been going?
MB: It's been really great. I feel like musically it's a good match. And everybody's really nice. It's been four shows so far. I was supposed to start with them later, but I was in New York one night and my friend Dan Brownberg was supposed to play, but they [sic] were sick and had to cancel, so the tour started a day early.
But yeah, it's been really good. It's fun to hear everyone's set every night. You know, you're lucky when that happens when you want to hear music again basically every night in a row.
ACRN: Have you played any sort of festivals before? Is there any sort of thing you like in particular about them?
MB: I've played at South by Southwest a few times and some things in Europe.
For me, I just like being able to see some friends who I don't get to see very often. Because, you know, bands are pulled in from all over the country. So, festivals are a good chance to see a friend from Portland [Ore.] or Salt Lake City or wherever for the first time in a long time.
ACRN: Other than your current tour, do you have anything else fans can expect from you in the near future?
MB: Well, I have an EP that's mixed, and I'm trying to think of when I'm going to put that out. And then, I'm working on some new stuff. So, hopefully I'll be writing and recording again for the fall.
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