I first came across Matt Bauer in 2006 when he released an e.p. called Wasps and White Roses. It featured a neo-traditional version of Sea Lion Woman a traditional American folk song which hooked me. It led me on a bit of a musical journey which led to many other great artists including Alela Diane, Marie Sioux and Sam Amidon. I’ve been following and playing his music on Frukie since. After seeing a grizzly woodsman looking photo of Matt I was pleasantly surprised by the delicate beauty of his music and his fragile and plaintive vocals, not what was I expecting at all. Proof that there is a lot of truth in the well used saying “never judge a book by its cover”. He holds his musical creations in the highest almost reverential respect, as though it is an entity in itself and this comes across in his music which is both unrushed and contemplative. Music has opened up new avenues to him that allowed him to be saved from a very deep and dark place in his past. In his own words:
Music saved my life, and so now I go where it takes me.
True to his word, he has done just that. Together with Dana Falconberry they have created something very magical. They prove they are both kindred spirits on a similar journey where egos are not seen and music is as pure as a mountain stream. On Two Songs for Sadie Matt and Dana create an honest and open musical dialogue:
“Can I call you back? I can’t talk to you right now. I’m rehearsing with you on one of your videos.”
Two Songs for Sadie is part response song, part long distance game of musical telephone between Dana Falconberry, who lives in Austin, and Matt Bauer who lives in Brooklyn.
After rehearsing with a video of Dana’s Sadie in order to accompany her on banjo, Matt wrote Waiting For Your Shadow drawing on the images in Dana’s song.
“I almost didn’t send it to her because we didn’t know each other well at the time and I thought she might think I was a weirdo.”
“I didn’t think he was a weirdo,” says Dana. Instead, she thought up a song built on the characters in Waiting For Your Shadow called Oh, Matthew.
When Dana came to New York on tour, they rehearsed the songs and tried them out at a few shows. Toward the end of her trip, in the moments between the theme from the Mr. Softee ice cream truck coming through the window and the upstairs neighbors blasting Guns ‘n Roses, they recorded at Matt’s apartment in Greenpoint.
Get the album here: http://mattbaueranddanafalconberry.bandcamp.com/
I love that I’m waking up on a linoleum floor in Albuquerque, my legs tangled up in microphone cords. I love feeling the warmth off a parking lot in L.A. late at night, the air cooling, I’m catching up with my friend Ed, listening to some mixes. I love that I’m playing a show in a sweaty basement in Bushwick hoping the humidity and body heat don’t start to unglue my banjo.
A couple days later I’m recording some vocals at Nigel and Emma’s place in San Francisco. Little Raven’s so big now and she’s talking in full sentences! Nathan and Eva come by and play some music in the kitchen. Eva sounds so sweet singing and playing that giant baritone uke. We talk about birdcalls. I know some birds, but can’t put the sounds to the images. But Nathan’s good at it and teaches me a couple.
Now I’m in Kentucky where I grew up. I’m walking through the places in my songs. Here’s the stable I where Poco slept at night. She’s long gone now and I miss her. Her stall houses a walk-in cooler my mom uses for her flower arranging business. Way out Delong there’s this field where Meg and I lay in the grass and you could feel hoof beats jump up against your chest.
Back in New York, Leaps is coming through town and she’d be perfect to sing this one little part on this one song. We feed the stray cats in the lot around the corner. We talk in funny voices and crack up. We look out over the water from the crumbling cement pier at the end of the street. We head back, we make coffee, we find a harmony, we get it down.
It feels like time travel. This is what I wanted for a long time.
Before, I was pretty lost. Really unhappy. For years. A lot of times I didn’t want to leave my apartment because I felt too self-conscious. I’d do things like take two buses across town to go see a band or go to the ophthalmologist or buy socks only to end up being too nervous to go through the door. Then I’d take the same buses all the way back home. Beat myself up. Wonder why I was like this.
At my lowest, I had almost stopped playing music and it felt horrible. Then I started teaching myself the banjo. It was something I could do everyday that made me feel alive. It led me to all these friends I feel so lucky to have and to a life I could imagine living.
I don’t mean to sound confessional. This isn’t a sad story. I’m telling you this because I thought my story was over, and it hadn’t even started yet. I’m telling you this because they asked me to say something about my music and I guess what’s worth saying is this:
Music saved my life, and so now I go where it takes me.
This is taken from Dana’s latest album Halletts which I’ll be adding tracks to the playlist from this week.
i woke first after dreaming of parachuting from the clouds and wandered out the screen door. tall tall grass, a small red barn. i gathered dried leaves and returned to the house, the others had woken. we set up our instruments and stood in a circle in the living room, surrounded by old couches and microphones. on the east wall a painting of a horse. golden hair, soft green grass. we sang to her and to the cicadas, and to each other.
it is a constant struggle, perhaps, to keep the confusing and complicated at bay and the simple and pure close at heart. but a good and noble fight it must be to try, i think. i love playing music with my band. it is always joyful, always pure, and i wanted to capture this simply and truthfully. so past the roadside bars where men in plaid shirts scuff and haw, and through the tall oaks that line the straight texas roads the four of us gathered: gina dvorak, andrew bergmann, lauren mcmurray and myself. we invited our good friend stephen orsak to join us and record the event. we chose a sunday in june while the sun was high and the grass was just beginning to bend with dust.
halletts is a collection of these songs. they are live, simple and untouched, the way they were born. they are stories of rain and snow and fields and the birds that dip through them.