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with Special Guest Donovan Woods


TO THE TOP When chatting with Matt Andersen, I ask about what to expect from his upcoming ninth album, Honest Man, set for release on February 26. It’s a pretty innocuous question, admittedly, and I figure I probably know the answer. Since 2002, the big man from New Brunswick with a commanding, soulful voice and surprising dexterity on the guitar has earned a steadily growing fan base from his blend of blues and folk. “A lot of the recording process was different as far as using drum loops and beats,” he says. That I wasn’t expecting.

Despite being the only Canadian to ever win the International Blues Challenge in Tennessee, which he did in 2010, substantial recognition outside of traditional blues and folk circles didn’t happen for Andersen until the release of his cheekily titled 2014 album, Weightless.The album earned a JUNO Award nomination and the corresponding tour culminated in a sold-out show at the iconic Massey Hall in Toronto.

This January, he was named the male vocalist of the year for the second straight year at the national Maple Blues Awards in Toronto. It

was the fifth time Perth-Andover’s Andersen has been honoured with a Maple Blues award.

So after more than a decade of fighting the uphill battle for greater recognition, the bluesman is going to introduce drum loops and beats to his sound? “It’s something I’ve never really done before and, honestly, is something I never really thought I would do,” says Andersen, explaining they were the idea of producer Gordon “Commissioner Gordon” Williams, who has worked with everyone from Amy Winehouse and Quincy Jones to KRS- One and Lauryn Hill. “But when you start to talk and go over it and see how he works and thinks, it is a lot more musical than I ever really gave it credit for, so it has kind of really opened me up a lot that way. A lot of the sessions were built around us just jamming. He would have beats and I would have my guitar and just started playing back and forth with other players in the room, so it was still as organic as it ever had been for me.”

Fortunately, Andersen is in a position to take chances. It’s one of the benefits of the slow-build approach. “I have never been somebody who got a whole lot of radio play, so it has mostly been word of mouth and I think that is a great way to build a career,” he says. “The fans I’ve got have been with me for five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten years, since

the beginning. So it’s really great and a really strong foundation and I think you can have more of a career that way than if you just, you know, make some fans overnight. I think you can lose those as fast as you make them, really.”

Heading out on his first cross-Canada tour with a full band, Andersen is insistent that on stage, unlike in the studio for Honest Man, he needs a living, breathing drummer. “I miss having friends too much, I guess, to not have a drummer,” he laughs. “Something I do miss when I’m on stage solo is having the people to interact with. I found a way to kind of make the audience part of my band as far as you feed off their energy, but when you’ve got four people on stage and things are really happening, it can be a pretty magical thing.”

- Michael Raine

Matt Andersen & The Bona Fide with special guest Donovan Woods


7:30PM Wed 2 Mar CENTRESTAGE 25

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