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Matt Allen

Posted on May 9, 2019 at 3:50 PM

Jump Jive and Swing - for the love of Classic Rock & Roll

“There’s so little sweetness in the music I hear now, no croons, no doo-wop or slow ones where you could hug up with someone and hold them against your body, feel their heart against yours, touch their cheek with your cheek” HOMAGE: DOO-WOP By Joseph Stroud

“Do you believe in rock and roll? Can music save your mortal soul? and can you teach me how to dance real slow?” AMERICAN PIE Don McLean

Matt Allen has sustained a music career for 40 plus years. This comes as no surprise to those who recognize and treasure the source of his lasting inspiration: Blues – Rockabilly – Honky Tonk. Allen moved to Huntsville in 2006 and has been playing local solo gigs and shows around Muskoka since 2016. He continues to play with his beloved bands- The Tex- Styles and the Swingin’ Blackjacks, in Toronto (and area) on a regular basis. Matt is an extraordinary guitarist and singer. His solo show is a delightful mix of well-worn classics and standards along with his own compositions such as “Misery Train”, “Little Red Head”,” Little Easter”. Mr Allen has released only one EP of his sound; so far, “Hi-Fi Sound” which I believe was released somewhere in early 2000. With only 4 songs, this collection is rocking and a full on dancing set of tunes. Mr. Allen started his musical journey very early in life. His family moved around as his parent’s career opportunities presented themselves. Matt recalls that one of his first influences were a band he encountered in the Barbados, where his parents were teaching – “The MerryMen” – a band which acquired world wide fame and continues to tour. While this band took its name from Robin Hood and his – you know the rest; suggesting that they were slightly non-conformist, their sound is infectious, joyful and makes you want to move. This seems to have stayed with Matt throughout his career. In his teens, Matt was influenced, like so many of us, by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Kinks; bands who were largely formed and aspired to be like their idols – Buddy Holly, Elvis and the Everly Brothers and the Chicago bluesmen. During these formative years, although he originally hoped to be a drummer, Matt began to play guitar and it was the eclectic guitar that was calling out to him. As Matt grew older, he was more directly influenced by the early ‘80’s music particularly The Clash. Blondie and Elvis Costello. Matt’s fascination with these new sounds led him to an interest in the sound from which these newer bands drew their perspective. Of course, Rockabilly was still very vital in mainstream culture – the movie Grease, the 1978 American musical romantic comedy was a massive hit worldwide- celebrating the music, culture and look of the early days of rock and roll. “Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, dating back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. As a genre it blends the sound of Western musical styles such as country with that of rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered "classic" rock and roll.” Not only was Rockabilly a style and sound in music, it was a very distinctive style of hair and clothing. In many regards it is living legacy of a pioneering spirit that emerged after the Second World War. A war, which intermingled the music and cultures of the enlisted men who served. One of the predominate sounds that had been emerging as the Americans entered the war, was “Jump Blues” which mixed 12 bar blues patterns, drum “backbeats” with the big band Swing music, which itself had emerged from New Orleans jazz and onward to rhythm and blues and into a stripped down music for people to dance to. These forms of music are highly innovative for musical expression and freedom but they are vastly enjoyable fun for the audience. The big drive of the bass and drums make you want to dance!! This was the sound that by 1985 had really caught Matt Allen’s artistic soul and has driven his sound ever since. It not only a sound but also a style that you get when you attend one of his concerts. Matt’s guitar styling is very distinctive – full of energy, muscular and exciting – as he overdrives his solos or fills the room with vibrato and reverb. I have to admit that one time I tried to see what his settings were on his amp and it seems that is a highly guarded secret. Another constant in Matt’s sound is his singing, which is rich and melodic with a touch of twang, salted with falsetto accents. He has a beautiful singing voice and personal touch. It is a joy to listen to as he takes you inside the simple stories and characters that fill his songs. Matt completes his style and sound with carefully shaped hair, vintage shirts and the ever present sneakers which I suspect are Converse but you can ask him yourself since I forgot to. One aspect of Matt Allen’s sound that I had not fully recognized in concert was that a lot of this music was intended for the young to dance real slow and close. This triggered a deep memory for me at how important and real it is to hold close a loved one and sway to the music, or as Joseph Stroud, the San Francisco poet, so eloquently states – “hug up with someone and hold them against your body, feel their heart against yours, touch their cheek with your cheek” Matt Allen is one of the busiest local musical performers working in the Muskoka. Above he is a sincere and gracious artist who believes that his work “must bring good value to the client”. You can see him at the following local venues throughout March. The Griffin- Bracebridge - Mar 2&30, The Oar& Paddle – Gravenhurst- Mar 5, Huntsville Brewhouse – Huntsville - Mar 16 Also Check out Matt on Hunters Bay Radio – The Bay 88.7fm; every Wednesday at 6pm for Talent on the Bay. Contact Matt Allen - https://www.facebook.com/matt.allen.3139

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