East coast blues hits the Island

Guitarist Matt Anderson will rock the Farquhar on Wednesday

New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen is kicking off his North American tour with two shows on Vancouver Island, including the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium on Feb. 17.

New York City might seem like an odd recording location for a musician from a town of less than 1,800 people, but for New Brunswick blues guitarist Matt Andersen, it was perfect.

Last year, the long-haired Maritimer set up a makeshift studio inside the New Yorker Hotel to record his latest album, Honest Man, due out Feb. 26. While his hometown of Perth-Andover has a fraction of New York’s population, the urban mecca proved to be rich with musical talent, to the point he could almost “handpick” artists to shape the disc’s sound.

“We were right in the middle of Manhattan, like a block from Madison Square Garden,” said Andersen. “The vibe down there was different than the country studios I’m used to. The setup was pretty modest – a few hotel rooms were gutted out and turned into a studio, so it felt a lot like a project studio.”

But while NYC was the right fit for recording, Andersen said the music is still inspired by his life and personal experiences deeply rooted in Atlantic Canada. Influences like Creedence Clearwater Revival and acoustic Eric Clapton show through the new tunes like they did on his 2014 Juno-nominated album, Weightless.

“They both feel the same to me, as far as how the sound comes out,” he said, comparing the albums.

“I definitely hear (producer Commissioner) Gordon’s influence a lot as far as the drum grooves. Some of that was pushing me out of my boundaries a little bit, which is really great. I don’t like it to be too familiar because then you get too comfortable and start to sound comfortable.”

Andersen co-wrote the 10-track record with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson, L.A. multi-instrumentalist Andy Stochansky and Ontario folk rocker Donovan Woods, the latter of whom is opening for him on his three-month North American tour. Like Weightless, the songs are, for the most part, live off the floor, capturing the combined talent of everyone on each track.

“We sat in the room together and kind of jammed that stuff,” said Andersen. “Then we just added the stuff after as far as guitar solos or parts with the horns section. It was great, a lot of fun, really positive.”

With the album being pressed, Andersen is embarking on a 60-date tour, starting in Duncan, with the second show at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium on Feb. 17. Local fans will be among the first to hear his new material live, and Andersen promises the show will be different from his previous performances on the Island.

“I’m actually bringing a band with me, which is the first time I’ve toured with a band in a long time,” he said. “I think most people have seen me solo, other than a few festivals this past year.

“It’s going to be different for people that way, seeing me with a band. I’m really looking forward to it – it’s been a lot of fun doing rehearsals.”

The show is nearly sold out, but tickets are still available for $26.50, $34.50 and $42.50. Tickets can be purchased through the Ticket Centre, online at tickets.uvic.ca or by phone at 250-721-8480.

Also this month, the Farquhar Auditorium is hosting the Red Poppy Ladies’ Percussion Group’s performance of Mulan on Feb. 14 and an evening with Indian scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva on Feb. 29. Tickets are still available for both shows.

 

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