WHEN I Skype English blues guitarist Matt Woosey about his upcoming tour, I find him in Germany, getting ready to come to South Africa.
Woosey (pictured) is from the West Midlands in England, Malvern to be exact. So his accent sounds nothing like the almost American country-tinged, but oh-so-contemporary rock blues music you’ll hear him play on online clips or on any of six cds.
“I have a heavy right hand, I play hard,” Woosey explained about his explosive slap and pick style.
He keeps the rhythm with the bass sound and creates a percussive sound, playing the melody at the same time.
How did a kid from the heart of England get into the blues? Apparently his father sent him to boarding school with a lot of Led Zeppelin tapes and he became interested in who had influenced their heavy metal blues sound.
This is how he came to know the music of artists such as the Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist Rory Gallagher and English guitarist, singer and songwriter John Martyn.
His first gig was as drummer in a Thin Lizzy musical at the age of 15, but he soon became more interested in the guitar and songwriting as he played in various bands.
As he became more confident in his songwriting ability he started singing and nowadays he mostly plays with the Matt Woosey Band, using his big range for a pretty powerful sound.
The 28-year-old still listens to a lot of blues and anything that has a melody or a guitar groove.
Woosey has just released On the Waggon and is coming to South Africa before returning for a UK launch then a three-month tour to Australia.
He’s coming here for a solo tour because he was intrigued by Robin Auld, of all people. He saw the South African guitarist play at a pub in the UK and made contact.
“He really turned my head,” Woosey said.
He likes to improvise and lets the audience’s mood dictate the set list. He spends a great deal of his time on the road, living out of his van.
Woosey’s also made good use of couchsurfing.org to fill up time between performances with tiny house gigs – which has turned out to be a good marketing strategy: “It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. If you get a gig at a proper venue people are more likely to come because they’ve had an intimate experience.”
He doesn’t have a preference between big or small venues, just as long as he gets to play. Ask him about matters such as the economy of making money from selling your cds versus playing gigs and all he can say is that he knows he makes enough money to keep on the road, and getting out there to play is what he cares about.
“I enjoy the variety of what I do, from playing for 10 people to playing for 100 people. The variety of it all is what I like. The travelling is cool too, apart from the driving.”
Tomorrow to Saturday, 8.30pm – Kalk Bay Theatre
Wednesday, February 20, 8pm: Dorpstreet Theatre, Stellenbosch
Friday, February 22, Lowlander, Grahamstown
Saturday, February 23, 7.30pm: The Music Kitchen, Port Elizabeth
Tuesday, February 26, 8pm: The Red Door, Pietermaritzburg
Wednesday, February 27, 8pm: Blue Stockings, Durban
Friday, March 1, 9pm: Murambi Country Kitchen, East London
Saturday, March 2, 6.30pm: Big Blues Fest, Kleinmond Harbour
Sunday, March 3, 8pm: Olyvenhoudt Olive Farm, Stilbaai
Wednesday, March 6, 8pm: 5 Ryneveld, Stellenbosch
Thursday, March 7, noon: Woordfees, De Vette Mossel, Stellenbosch
Friday, Mar 8, 8pm: Sea-side Blues, Melkbosstrand