Monday, January 23, 2017

First/Last - The Matchsellers


"The Matchsellers is a bluegrass duo that began in the streets of former East Germany and now crisscrosses the US Interstate system year-round. Julie Bates is a classically trained violinist from Kansas City, Missouri, and Andrew Morris grew up playing electric blues guitar in the dive bars of Warsaw, Indiana."

The Matchsellers is a Midwest old-timey bluegrass duo who are in the midst of their New Year Tour celebrating the 2016 release Songs We Made Up. Comprised by two musicians who hailed from different cities, Andrew Morris (Guitar/Vocals) and Julie Bates (Fiddle/Vocals) met while working in Germany. They hit Pittsburgh tomorrow (1/24) at Acoustic Music Works in Squirrel Hill and I want to thank Andrew for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Smash Mouth Astro Lounge. I think the lead singer of that band is Guy Fieri's long lost cousin.

Your last album bought?
Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun Music Vol. 1 & 2. I love the “Newport Waltz”. It has such a beautiful melody, and yet the lyrics are not much more than a brown-nosing advertisement for the Newport Folk Festival.

Favorite album of all time?
How can somebody expect me to answer this? I guess I'll say the album that turned me onto acoustic bluegrass music and really changed the trajectory of my life was Sleep With One Eye Open by Chris Thile & Michael Daves. I unabashedly tried to rip-off what they were doing for a long time and failed at it.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Honestly, I was disappointed with Bob Dylan's New Morning. Sure it's got some good, even great moments like “The Man in Me” and “If Not For You.” And I could probably get over the fact that some of the songs are a bit annoying “Neeewwwwwwwwwww Morning” , “Day of the Locusts.” But the song “If Dogs Run Free” really ruined that album for me. I just don't get it. Can't wrap my mind around that song. Apparently, lots of people love that song and that album. But if I'm 100% honest with you, I was disappointed.

First concert attended?
Three Dog Night at the Center Lake Park in my hometown of Warsaw, Indiana. I remember it was my 5th or 6th birthday and I didn't want to go. So my dad put a funnel in my mouth and poured Budweiser down my throat and I wound up having a really good time. It's amazing how beer can change your mind.

Last concert?
Goldmine Pickers in Goshen, Indiana. They were THE acoustic band in Northern Indiana for a time, but now are pretty much split up. Jay currently plays with the Steel Wheels. Sean and Adam are in a great Irish group called Soltre. Luke teaches at the folk school in St Louis. Though not all of the original members made it to play the concert, enough were there to make it a really good time. I really admire and look up to those guys.

Favorite concert ever?
Another tough question. A great concert that is sticking out in my mind right now was Jonathan Richman at The Artmosphere in Lafayette, LA. In high school my friend Jill burned me the Modern Lovers CD because she said my voiced reminded her of Jonathan Richman. He exudes so much joy on stage, it's amazing. It was just him, his nylon acoustic guitar and this drummer Tommy Larkins, who was groovy as hell. The space was really small so we were right next to him. Everyone was dancing. My homeboy Dave Riot was running the board, so the sound was perfect. Icing on the cake.

Least favorite concert?
I played trumpet in high school. One Veteran's Day or Memorial Day, the band played a concert somewhere at some cemetery for all of these old people and veterans. Everyone in the audience was wearing a baseball cap. At least that's how I remember it. Anyway, at one point in the concert, a flag was being raised or lowered or folded or saluted or something, and that was my cue to stand up and play “Taps” alone. Solo. A capella trumpet... I botched it really bad. It sounded like a goose being drowned. And it smelled even worse, because I did everything short of pooping myself. I lost every friend I ever had that day. That was my least favorite concert.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I was a pretty good kid in school and never got into trouble until I had Mr. Winter in 4th grade. He loved the Steelers and had several Steelers' flags around, so I guess he was from Pittsburgh. Anyhow, once he made me sit in the hall and miss recess because I wrote “poop” on the chalkboard. The man didn't have a sense of humor. I don't think I ever saw him smile. We hated each other. I think on the last day of school I yelled, “Pittsburgh Sucks” while storming out of class and never saw Mr. Winter again. But other than that guy, Pittsburgh seems like a pretty cool place. You put french fries on your sandwiches, right? How can a city that decided to put french fries on a sandwich create a 4th grade teacher who couldn't smile? Maybe he was just upset there was no Primanti Brothers in Warsaw, Indiana.


Thanks, Andrew. Not for nothing but fecal matter seems to play a defining matter in your adolescent years...

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