VOL. 2 - NO. 10 October 15th – November 14th, 2006

Matt McKay,
Boston, Massachusetts

Northeast In-Tune Magazine

Acoustic Rock

By: Susan Frances, Northeast In-Tune Magazine

Matt McKay is an acoustic rock guitarist with songwriting skills that measure up to Chuck Cannon (Toby Keith’s band) and Peter Yorn. His vocals have a Paul Stanley (lead singer of KISS) raspiness and a Sarah McLaughlin vulnerability. His music may be described as “dark folk” or “acoustic Goth”, choosing lyrics and chord moods that focus on the darker emotions of relationships – those insecurities that brew beneath the surface and long to come out. His acoustic ramblings are mellow and sparsely adorned, and yet the emotions are complex and bare a soul.

His song “Harder” has a folk/rock style like Sun Volt with movements that roam like a stream of consciousness, taking excerpts from a private journal. Matt’s songs are private and the touches on the melodies are inclusive to himself. His track “They Don’t” is another selection from a private experience where he vents off feelings in the lyric:

“I feel like I'm getting to the point, where I am giving up on you.”

He says what you would like to say to someone in your own life at times. The lyrics are accessible, raw and hold a personal meaning that can be applied to facets of other people’s lives. His tune “Come” muskets dark, looming tones with lyrics in search of the light at the ending of the tunnel.

Matt McKay has a long history in the Boston music scene, recording and performing as a session player for artists like Rick Berlin, the band members of Extreme and Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Perry and his own band Bitterhead. His self-titled album offers songs that speak of dark emotions that when not released, become choking to the soul. The adage that happiness is bittersweet is a reality in Matt’s music. His songs express that moment when the glow of joy has waned and you have to find your way from there, with the musings of a few guitar strums to aid you along your search. They say that playing the acoustic guitar is unforgiving – all the blemishes and flaws of your playing show, and yet it is the one way to see yourself without pretense.

Here is a recent (November 26, 2008) interview with Peter Levine in The Malden Observer, written by Joe Viglione. Both Joe and Peter have done so much for the Boston music scene over the years. Peter gives me a surprise mention...thanks Peter! Check out Peter's brother, artist David X Levine, who is mentioned at the bottom of the piece.

The Malden Observer: Wicked Local by Joe Viglione

Malden - A man with a postdoctoral degree who has biophysics as his major and thermo-molecular studies as his minor might not be the candidate you’d pick to have the most knowledge of music and artists that hail from Malden, Mass. And the truth is, historian Peter Levine doesn’t have those degrees, though that’s the comedy resume on his myspace,

Levine, who attended Malden High School from 1973 to 1975, is a historian, rock ’n’ roll manager and a man with a dry sense of humor. As official representative of the legendary Preacher Jack, and contributor to the Malden Observer, Levine is a fountain of information on Malden area culture. He also has created an interesting Web site about Malden on Myspace, found at myspace.com/maldenmassachusetts.

Though his 23-year job at Hewlett Packard got shipped to Costa Rica in October of 2007, Levine rolled with the punches and threw himself headlong into what he loves best, managing the legendary pianist, contributing to this paper, and chronicling the area’s musicians and artists. We caught Levine in a rare serious moment earlier this month.

Malden Observer: Have you always documented the local music scene?

Levine: I’ve been a fan of the local music scene since the late ’70s — got hooked on live shows after seeing fellow Maldonians Gary Cherone, Matt McKay and Frank Herrera play out in their first band “Adrenalin.” From there my friends and most of my family and I would follow bands we either knew somebody in or liked after we’d heard them on college radio.

It’s only been the last few years that I’ve attempted to document the scene — my knowledge is not as extensive as some scenesters that I know. I try to concentrate on Malden musicians, which are plentiful.

MO: What were your interests at Malden High?
Levine: Unfortunately my interests at MHS were purely hedonistic! I enjoyed hanging with my buds, playing sports and trying to get trhough my high school years with as little effort as possible.

MO: Where and when did you meet Preacher Jack?

Levine: I first met Jack at the Blue Star Bar & Grille at the junction of Route 1 and Route 99 (now Maddy’s). It was 1990 I believe, and a friend of ours (Al Glynn Jr.) was playing harmonica on occasion with Jack’s trio at the time (“Sugar” Ray Burnette on guitar and Paul “Hurricane” Haven on drums). We became fans right away.

After the second or third time seeing him we found out he had two records out on Rounder — we searched high and low for them and finally came across some copies at Skippy White’s in Central Square Cambridge.

MO: Have any famous disc jockeys come from the Malden area?
Levine: The most famous DJ that I am aware of would be Mikey Dee (Linick); he had a longtime slot at 91.5 WMFO at Tufts University (“On the Town with Mikey Dee”) every Wednesday night for many, many years. Mikey would spin local music and have a local band come in and play live. (The show still runs to this day with guest DJs each week [myspace.com/onthetown].) On Feb. 7, 2000, Mikey suffered a devastating brainstem stroke after undergoing routine heart surgery for a congenital defect and eventually succumbed to pneumonia on July 6, 2003.

MO: Did you know about the Reese Hopkins/WRKO connection and his quick and tragic fall?

Levine: Reese had been living on Pearl Street for a short while before his arrest [on child rape charges last month]. I met him once or twice at Anthony’s on Canal Street; he would come in and have a beer and be as opinionated there as he would on the radio. He is quite the character and I would hate to pass judgment on him until he’s had his day in court.

MO: What is the nightlife in Malden like? Honeyfitz, #9 Ale House Grill, Dockside, even events at Anthony’s?

Levine: Occasionally the nightlife in Malden isn’t bad. Like most pubs or bars in the suburbs it consists of tribute bands, cover bands or blues bands. But sometimes you can catch some fine original music.

For example the #9 Ale House recently had Boston (by way of Malden) rap pioneers Top Choice Clique in for their record release party. The place was packed and it truly was a special night. My Honey Fitz, Avenue C, and Mundo’s Bar & Grille (Patrick’s) on any given Friday or Saturday night have some excellent bar bands such as Bucket of Blues or Drop Zone.

MO: Do you have interaction with Malden Access TV?
Levine: I love MATV and the crew over there, especially Ronny Cox, who is a living legend in Malden. Ronny has been incredibly supportive of local bands, including Preacher Jack, and tries to include one on his show every month. I have been tossing around an idea for a show for MATV, part music/part politics/part Malden history type of show a sort of Ed Sullivan meets Keith Olbermann format.

MO: Wasn’t there a Malden show with Norman Greenbaum (of “Spirit in the Sky” fame) phoning in? Charlie Farren playing, etc.?

Levine: Yes, the show you are referring to was a concert at Jenkins Auditorium in October of 2007 — it was part of the weekend-long celebration for the 150th anniversary of Malden High School. I put that show together and recruited all MHS grads for the event. We had music, comedy, and some spoken word poetry with Ronny Cox as the MC for the night.

Ronny actually convinced Norman (a 1961 grad of MHS) to videotape a tribute to his alma matter since he was laid up with a leg injury and could not travel from California. Charlie Farren, Gary Cherone, John Surrette, Dave Russo, Mark Tolstrup, Jawn P (from Top Choice Clique) and about 10 other musicians donated their time for the event.

As I’m answering these questions it is 4:25 on Tuesday, Nov. 4, Election Day 2008, and I am pretty excited about possibly having our first African-American president. Never ever thought I’d see it in my lifetime and I feel pretty good about his chances and the history that will be made.

MO: Is David X Levine your brother? Could you discuss his artwork?

Levine: Yes, David X Levine is my baby brother. He’s a very talented artist (as is my sister Barbara and my mother). He’s been living in New York for the past nine years or so and is making a pretty nice name for himself there. I love his stuff; it’s very dynamic artwork — brilliant use of color, quite abstract. I love the fact that he incorporates his love of music (pop music especially) to inspire his creations. Please go to his Web site, buy his work, and make my mother happy.

 

 

 

 

 

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