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Blues Cure Matt of Metal

Blues Cure Matt of Metal

Who: Matt Walker, The Whitlams, Shihad, Motorace, Weta
Where: University - Bar on the Hill
Author: Kim Honan
When: Thursday September 7, 2000

THE cure for the blues could well be the blues itself, according to slide guitarist MATT WALKER. Currently riding the success of supporting legendary UK blues outfit GOMEZ on their national Australian tour, Matt Walker has come a long way since his first stint playing electric guitar in heavy metal band SATAN. Walker will stop in Newcastle tomorrow night to help celebrate The Bar on the Hill's 15th birthday bash along with THE WHITLAMS, SHIHAD, MOTORACE and WETA. 'It was just a band in high school, when I was 13,' Walker laughs.

'We used to write all our own tunes. Trying to remember those concerts in the Year 9 portable, it's a bit hard. My musical tastes changed after a couple of years.'

One would say it's been change for the better.

Although Matt plays the acoustic guitar, harmonica, dobro, writes and sings, he is most sought after for the majestic sounds he creates from his lap steel guitar and it's been 10 years in the making.

'It was actually found on the tip,' he said.

'I was doing this gig and this guy I met basically just gave it to me, because I was playing a bit of slide on my acoustic. I didn't even know what a lap steel was. It's just one of those weird things,' he recalled.

Having teamed up with drummer ASHLEY DAVIES, the duo has just re-released its 1997 debut album I Listen to the Night through Virgin.

A second studio album, Soul Witness, has also been released to rave reviews.

Both albums are largely Matt and Ashley improvising around a basic melody, so no song is ever the same.

Rolling Stone described the music as 'elegant urban blues' and Broderick Smith (The Dingoes), said 'Where has this guy been all my life? He's incredible.'

For Walker, Broderick Smith was one of his earliest influences, spending 2 years touring with his band.

Smith is just one of the collaborations with Walker on Soul Witness, with others featuring words by DAVE GRANEY and THE TRIFFIDS' DAVID MCCOMB. Soul Witness also features the talent of Ken Gormley (The Cruel Sea) on bass and Chris Thompson (The Necks) on piano.

'We were going to get Kenny and Chris on a couple of songs but once we were in the studio they were eaten into the whole project. It's a really new thing to be playing in a four-piece line-up live and it's like being in a high school band again,' Matt said.

Matt recently recorded (he was in the studio as we spoke) with another notable Australian artist, Mick Thomas (Weddings, Parties, Anything) as well as laying down a track of lap steel and slide for Melbourne band EVEN. 'I know Ash Naylor (Even). We jammed together a bit, done a few gigs. I don't really do that much sort of session things, just seems to be lately.'

Matt also had the chance to do some freeform jamming with the Gomez lads on The Joint (Foxtel) while on the publicity trail during the tour.

'It was really fun doing that tour. They've got lots of samplers on stage and I was really intrigued, so they were showing me at sound checks how it all works. So it got me fired up to want to go out and buy some new toys.'

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