Interview with Matt Slocum
We recently caught up with Matt Slocum about his upcoming tour dates with the allstar outfit, “The New Stew”, performing Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall album. The group will stop in several cites (see full dates below) including a date in DC at The Hamilton (May 10) just blocks from the White House.
Last interview you told me that a great moment of learning for you was with Susan Tedeschi, “it wasn’t about playing all the notes, playing fast and playing all the cool licks, it was about backing up a singer and playing to the song. I had to realize that it wasn’t about me, it was about me as one of the ingredients in a bigger piece.” You’re likely taking a similar approach to the Bill Withers tunes as well I’d imagine.
What songs are hardest to “hold back” on?
Matt: It’s not so much having to hold back as it is knowing how to play to the song. Each song requires everybody to listen and be on the same page and ultimately back up singer or soloist at the time. Being a piece of the puzzle instead of trying to be the biggest piece.
Could you tell us how your role on keys (playing within the song as opposed to mainly improvising) fits into the whole perspective of bringing the 1973 album to life?
Matt: Well, this is an iconic album. Live at Carnegie Hall is all about the groove, the pocket and 100% coming from the soul. I could listen to this album all the time. It’s about the vibe and the feeling that you get from listening to this album. It’s really about everybody playing the perfect part at the perfect time and staying out of the way.
You’ve known Roosevelt Collier for roughly ten years. You’ve recorded together in the studio and toured together. How did the idea for this new project “The New Stew” come together, why Bill Withers?
Matt: Yeah I’ve known Roosevelt for over 10 years he and I toured together with Oteil Burbridge and the Lee boys and I recorded a record with the Lee boys and he and I’ve done several shows on and off. But I’ll tell you it was really Jared stone the put this whole thing together. Jarretts the one who came up with the idea and really got the wheels in motion looking for the right musicians and organizing the whole thing so it’s really his his baby. I got a call from Dave Yoke who was asking if I wanted to do the gig and I said absolutely, especially when I heard who was going to be playing on it. I’m really excited about this tour!
The electric Rhodes piano can be heard throughout this album. What do you like most about the tone of this instrument and what’s your favorite way to play it?
Matt: I love the sound of the Rhodes. But honestly the Wurlitzer is my favorite electric piano and you can hear that on this album as well. But as far as the Rhodes, it’s really that warm bell like tone that it has. It’s so soothing and funky at the same time. The original suitcase Rhodes has a speaker cabinet with 2 12″ speakers. I love the sound of the Rhodes with the vibrato on. Definitely!
Which artists would you compare Bill Withers to and why?
Matt: I guess you could compare him to Billy Preston. But really you can’t compare Bill to anyone. He’s so unique and truly a Legend!
Could you tell us why this all-star cast of musicians is a well rounded fit for your style of playing, and in what ways are these other players pushing you?
Matt: Well for one, everyone on this gig is an amazing musician and player. I’ve played with everyone but Jared and Corey. So I really looking forward to meeting them and I’m sure I’ll feel right at home with all my buddy’s on stage. Dave Yoke and I played in Susan Tedeschi’s band, I’ve played with Yon Rico’s band and also sitting in with the Derek Trucks Band, and Kevin and I have a band together with Mark Raudabaugh and Rick Lollar called King Baby.
When I play with musicians at this level and caliber, I’m always challenged and I’m a better player and person because of it.
5/5 Thu – Live at Ludlow Garage – Cincinnati, OH
5/6 Fri – The Ardmore Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA
5/7 Sat – Ram’s Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD
5/9 Mon – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
5/10 Tue – The Hamilton Live – Washington, DC
5/11 Wed– The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
5/12 Thu – Center Stage – Atlanta, GA