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Artist of the day: Matt Butcher

10

July

Matt.butcher2

Matt Butcher, a guitarist and harmonica player from Orlando who turns 26 in August, used to be in the twangy pop band the Heathens, which disbanded in 2006. His current act, a group of close, simpatico musicians known as the Revolvers, has been performing for around a year, making frequent visits to Tampa.

Butcher cuts to the bone with a sinuous, earnest vocal, met with poignant lyrics, folk traditions and shimmering soft rock touches. "Musically, we strive to leave a lot of space in the songs," he says.

He'll be performing solo at 3:45 p.m. at WMNF's Americana Fest at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa. Tickets are $12-$15. And Butcher and the Revolvers will open for the Avett Brothers at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on July 18.

Click here to listen to Me and My Friends, the title track to Butcher's 2008 CD. And after the jump, get Julie Garisto's interview with Butcher, as well as his plans for becoming a theme park tycoon and whether "Butcher" is even his real name.

Meet Matt: Matt Butcher, a guitarist and harmonica player from Orlando who turns 26 in August, used to be in the twangy pop band the Heathens, which disbanded in 2006. His current act, a group of close, simpatico musicians known as the Revolvers, has been performing for around a year, making frequent visits to Tampa.

Revolving around him: Daniel Berry, drums; Matt Mendel, piano, organ and vocals; Dave Chmil, lead guitar and vocals (and also formerly of the Heathens); Gus Ramage, bass; Olivia Wynn, guest vocals; and Tom Cooper, guest pedal steel and vocals.

Shiny and rusty blades: Butcher cuts to the bone with a sinuous, earnest vocal, met with poignant lyrics, folk traditions and shimmering soft rock touches. On Me and My Friends, his 2008 CD’s title track, a subdued sax gives way to the harmonica of On My Mind. “Musically, we strive to leave a lot of space in the songs,” he says. “I think sometimes, a composition can become drowned in music. I am definitely a fan of the less is more approach. Listen to the first four bars of Neil Young’s Out on the Weekend. ... Magic.”

Blues cues: Butcher says most of the songs on Me and My Friends were written during a troubled time of alcohol and drug abuse. “I got sober in 2005 and things have been looking up since then,” he shares. “Songwriting for me has always been a way for me to reflect on my life. I like when Thom Yorke says, 'Be constructive with your blues.’ ”

Is Butcher his real name? “Yes, it is! Slightly ironic, as I work at a vegetarian restaurant. I was born in England, and also lived in Amsterdam and Colorado Springs before moving to Orlando in 1999. My parents were Christian missionaries, so we moved around a lot. Neither of my parents are musicians, but my dad has a huge vinyl collection and was always playing music in the house. I was listening to great stuff at a young age. Van Morrison, the Jam, U2, Springsteen. Not a bad education.”

Brotherly love: Butcher has kept in touch with the Avett Brothers since the Heathens opened for the under-the-radar sellout sensation in 2005 “I toured with them solo for a week, and last November the band and I opened for them two consecutive nights at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. It was an amazing experience!”

If he had his own theme park: “I came up with the best idea the other day. I want to open an amusement park where theme park rides go to retire. Imagine, for a small fee, you can experience Captain Eo, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Back to the Future Ride and many more! It would be cheap and run-down, but that’s all part of the charm. ... I’d call it YesterdayLand! Okay, the name needs work. But I think the idea is solid gold.”

Hear him: At 3:45 p.m. Saturday in a solo performance at the Americana Fest at Skipper’s Smokehouse, Tampa. $12, $15. (813) 971-0666. He and his full band open for the Avett Brothers at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on July 18. For more information on both shows, visit wmnf.org.

Want more Matt Butcher? Get an unedited version of the interview here.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photo by Charles Brewer III.

[Last modified: Friday, July 10, 2009 7:00am]

    

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