With his trademark powerful voice and force-of-nature guitar playing rooted in Blues, renowned singer-songwriter Matt Andersen is returning to Cranbrook next month.
Andersen had a hard-working 2019, recording a new album, touring with Steve Miller and Marty Stuart and the Mellotones, and playing shows North America and Europe, both solo and with with bands.
And he’s setting out on another tour of North America and Europe, including the stop at the Key City Theatre Monday, Feb. 10.
There’s a lot going on in Matt Andersen’s music as well as the Blues influence, although his performances bring a similar electricity as that of the legendary Bluesmen of yore, especially performing solo, as he will be at his Cranbrook show.
“With a band, it’s really fun having that interaction on stage.” he told the Townsman in a phone interview. “There’s a lot more instrumentation-wise you can do with a band — it’s great to have a sax solo in a song — and having the whole band sound.
“But I’m probably more comfortable doing the solo thing. I’ve done that quite a bit more. Even last year, doing the band tour, 80 per cent of my shows were still solo. It’s what I was most used to growing up hearing music —just people with a guitar, singing.
“I think it’s how people are most comfortable. Everyone has an uncle who plays guitar. It’s pretty accessible for most people.”
The synergy between audience and performer is what drives Andersen’s live show.
“That’s when the shows are best,” he said. “When the audience is having fun, I’m having more fun, and in turn they have more fun again. When we have a good night like that it kind of builds to a really great experience for everybody.”
Originally from New Brunswick, Andersen now lives in Nova Scotia. Music is deeply engrained in the culture of Atlantic Canada — and Andersen grew up playing music.
“It wasn’t really a decision to be a musician, just more to fit in with the family. My grandfather played, my mom played, lots of cousins … every time the family got together there was lots of music.
“As far as the influence, culture-wise, you played music for the fun of it, I guess. I try to hang on to that when I go on stage, for sure.”
Last time Andersen stopped in Cranbrook some years ago, he played the Studio Stage Door, and left considerable buzz in his wake (speaking of electricity). Since then, his discography has burgeoned to 10 albums. The most recent, “Halfway Home By Morning,” was recorded last year in Nashville — 13 tracks coming from a number of styles, like soul, country, Americana, and grounded in Blues.
Andersen likes recording away from home, in renowned studios like Southern Ground Studios in Nashville.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time down there [in Nashville] doing projects, and writing and stuff.” he said. “The studio was amazing, a very cool set-up, and lots of history in there. The players were great — we had some local players and some players from home as well.
“I always like getting away from home if I can. You can focus in a little better when you don’t have to worry about things at the house.”
A prolific songwriter, Andersen has an outward gaze in his writing. He doesn’t follow ‘a map,’ as he says — or any particular songwriting process. The ideas come to him, and he works them into songs.
“It’s not really a process for me,” he said. “I’m on the road quite a bit, so lots of times the ideas just come whenever they come. I jot them down or record them on my phone. Sometimes a song is driven by the lyric, or the melody, it really just depends. If I go to much by process [it eliminates that spontaneity].
“I think some people do have a ‘map’ they use, I just never work that way too well.
“I think that when you first start writing — for me, anyway, when I first started writing — you write from first-person perspective a lot, lots of ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s.’ As you get older you stop caring about yourself more and start paying more attention to what’s going on around you. And it kind of works its way into your music.”
Matt Andersen performs at Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre Monday February 10 at 7:30 pm.
Also on the bill, and opening up the show, is Shaun Kirk, from Australia, an independent Australian soul and blues singer, songwriter, and musician.
“I’ve toured with him a few times, and I’m really excited to have him along. He’s fantastic. People are going to love him.”