Northern New Brunswicker Matt Andersen will once again be gracing this year’s Harvest Jazz and Blues festival with a new album that blends country, blues, and folk music.
“Playing Harvest is like a big family reunion,” says Andersen. “That’s where I kind of cut my teeth.”
Andersen is from Perth-Andover and first played the festival with his old band Flattop. Andersen has come a long way since winning the Galaxie Rising Star Competition in 2002. Having played the festival almost every year since then, Andersen has become somewhat of a hometown hero with his energetic live show now a staple in the Harvest lineup.
In his new album Weightless (2014) Andersen drifts stylistically from his last album Coal Mining Blues (2011) where the sound was much more country oriented to a soulful, soft almost gospel-type record with Weightless.
The track Lost My Way was one of two songs on the new album co-written with Halifax musician Joel Plaskett. The album was produced by Steve Berlin who did The Tragically Hip’s 1998 album Phantom Power and Deer Tick’s 2013 album Negativity. Weightless also features some writing and music contribution from David Myles, Dave Gunning and Andersen’s neighbour in Wolfville, N.S. Ryan Hupmann.
“I like working with other people, to bring in their influence and their input. I like getting the other ideas in there to keep things fresh and kind of move forward, otherwise you end up doing the same things over and over again,” says Andersen.
This year Andersen will be playing with the Mellotones, a funk and soul group from Halifax. Andersen will be backed by their ten-piece roster including horn and rhythm sections, a big leap from his usual solo performance. This year’s Harvest will most definitely be a fuller Matt Andersen sound then we are used to.
“They’re really tight, it’s a lot of fun. We’re a ten piece so that’s a little different than my usual solo thing.”
In 2010 Andersen was the first Canadian to win an award in the Memphis Blues Challenge where he took home the prize for Best Solo Performer. Andersen won three Maple Blues Awards in 2012 and in 2013 he won Best Solo Acoustic at the European Blues Awards.
“It’s great they really love their music over there for sure, they call it Americana, anything folk related they really dig.”
Directly after Harvest Andersen is heading to Maine, Massachusetts and then across the pond to the United Kingdom to continue his touring, but for now he enjoys the familiarities of New Brunswick and its slow pace.
“You don’t need a GPS to get to the show,” he says. “And you know all the good places to stop for a beer and a bite to eat.”