Rod Matheson’s thousand-day road

Music fan delves into the heart of live music on the West Coast

Rod Matheson takes in the Hank & Lily CD relase party at Sunset Labs

In March of 2012 Rod Matheson turned off his television, walked out of his Vancouver home and disappeared into the night in search of something more– something transcendent, yet profoundly human. Having grown tired of passively watching the world go by, Matheson picked up his video camera and scoured his city’s rain drenched streets for inspiration, for life in its most vital distillation: his search ultimately led him to live music.

In many ways, Matheson hasn’t returned home since that night.  What began simply as a diversion for Matheson eventually led to a sustained obsession.  April 1st marked the one year anniversary of Matheson’s Everyday Music Project.  For the past year, Matheson has recorded live performances by artists as diverse as Kenny Rogers, Ben Harper and Victoria’s own David P. Smith, publishing a song a day on his website– 365 songs in 365 days.

And this is just the beginning.  Matheson promises that the project will grow to 1000 songs in as many days, an extensive and intimate rendering of live music on the West Coast.  But for Matheson, the project has evolved into something much more than a numbers game.  Looking back at the past year, Matheson sees the project as a kind of spiritual quest that has taken on a life of its own.

“I’m not just collecting songs here.”  Matheson says.  “I’m trying to find pearls of wisdom to share with the world.  I’m trying to make a difference in the only way I feel that I can.  As I struggle with feeling increasingly invisible in this life and hear my friends lament how none of us can really change (or have a profound effect) on any of the world’s problems, this vision came to me like a ray of light.”

“Over the last year,” Matheson continues, “the project has confirmed it’s relevance and the fact that it is ‘meant to be’ many times.  Even though I’ve struggled with doubt and fear, wondered if anyone would actually care if I packed it in, and wondered why I’m even bothering if no one’s watching, I feel that this project is bigger than me.  I continue to follow the path that’s being laid out before me… following the music like bread crumbs laid out in a dark forest and finding some amazing songs, forging some valuable relationships, and finding inspiration.”

Late last year, Matheson’s musical journey took him across the Georgia Straight from Vancouver to Victoria where, in a marathon day of filming, he documented live performances of some of our city’s finest musical talent.  The day began with an intimate performance by David P. Smith’s three piece band, moved on to performances by Nicole Lavallee, Bonehoof, and Geoff Howe (to name only a few), before culminating in Hank and Lily’s CD release at the Sunset Room, a show Matheson later confided was one of the most entertaining he’s seen to date.

In many ways, Matheson’s Victoria trip represents a distillation of his unique approach to his massive project.  The project, much like the live performances it documents, is a journey into the unknown propelled by the dynamic power of spontaneity and the thrill of the moment.  Matheson’s course is largely determined by chance encounters with fellow music lovers and his own impeccable instincts.  Upon arriving to Victoria, Matheson was unfamiliar with all of the bands and performers he set out record, which allowed him to observe the performances free of preconceptions.

“I spend a lot of time talking to people who are musical enthusiasts and get them to point me in different directions.” Matheson says. “Typically if they say ‘you have to see this band’, I am there. I am often rewarded and rarely disappointed.  It’s really neat for me to have a clean slate when I go and see an artist. I try to not know an artist when I go see them, which seems very odd. You’d think with a project like mine I’d try to filter out and keep away from things I don’t like. I have a lot of friends who will only go see a concert if they’re absolutely assured that they will love it and even then they can walk away disappointed because of the expectations they bring.  Artists sound completely different on CDs and on the radio: I am only interested in what they bring to a live moment.”

Now over a year into the Everyday Music Project, Matheson continues to follow his musical muse into the unknown.  While Matheson is unsure as to what the future holds, and where he will be when the project is over, one thing is for sure: the project has fundamentally changed him and for that, he is grateful.  No longer content to sit idle in his living room as life passes him by, Matheson has already accumulated a lifetime’s worth of magical musical moments, and in those moments he has found hope, a hope he wants to share with us all.

“I’ll be turning 50 on Nov. 22, 2014 and posting Day 1000 on Dec. 26, 2014.  I may be divorced and living on my own by then.  I don’t know… I just know that this project will leave me forever changed by the experience and am sincerely grateful that I have sought an antidote for the emptiness of existence ‘the artist’s way’ rather than in the arms of a stranger or on a sunny beach in Thailand!   I won’t be leaving my daughter a sizeable inheritance.  This (and a book of quotes I’ve been assembling since she was 6 that I intend to complete and give her on her 16th birthday) will be part of my legacy for her.  A musical box of chocolates.  A one of a kind collection of 1000 signed, numbered (marked with the day I posted the artist) CD’s and a message of hope and following your heart.”

 

 

Kenny Rogers– http://everydaymusic.ca/?p=1551

Ben Harper– http://everydaymusic.ca/?tag=ben-harper

David P. Smith– http://everydaymusic.ca/?tag=david-p-smith

Nicole Lavallee– http://everydaymusic.ca/?p=2715

Bonehoof– http://everydaymusic.ca/?p=2554

Geoff Howe– http://everydaymusic.ca/?p=2724

Hank and Lily– http://everydaymusic.ca/?tag=hank-and-lily

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