New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu


Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Matt Witte’s ‘Ol' Boy’


By Bob Makin

originally published: 01/12/2018

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Matt Witte’s ‘Ol' Boy’

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Matt Witte’s ‘Ol' Boy’

Exceptional Manasquan-raised, Brooklyn-based guitar-pickin’ storyteller Matt Witte delivers a powerful self-released 10-song solo outing, “Ol’ Boy,” which will be celebrated Jan. 12 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen. 

 

Murder … mutilation … torture … fallen angels … pacts with the devil … the decay of one’s soul and the city that encompasses it. These sound like the subjects of a death metal band, right? Or at least Hank Williams III.

Like Hank III, Matt Witte has told truths, tales and tall tales about these topics for 20 years along a trail of broken hearts and dreams, but in such a charming, witty, well-rooted way that the effect somehow is much more fascinating than disturbing. Whether solo or in such bands as Coach ’N Commando, Chainsaw Trio or New Blood Revival, Witte’s richly developed and achingly vulnerable characters are like anti-heroes whom you can’t help but love even though they often can be despicable. Once again, his latest solo effort, the self-released 10-song “Ol’ Boy,” brims with great bad guys right from the get-go with the circus-sounding opening track, “Old Brains,” a painful but soulful look at a couple failing to grow old gracefully or with each other’s love intact.



 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



After presenting Witte in the roots-rockin’ two-piece Coach ’N Commando twice last quarter, I’m happy to see that he mixes things up by continuing to put out solo albums. “Ol’ Boy” is similar to Coach ’N Commando’s approach to Hank Williams-, Rev. Gary Davis- and Junior Kimbrough-inspired country-blues, but with less of the Hank III raucous raunchiness and frantic fingerpicking and more introspection and folk foundation. 

Another favorite track is “Bedtime for Bozos,” perhaps a toxic musical update of the 1951 comedy “Bedtime for Bonzo,” but with Donald Trump in the lead instead of Ronald Reagan. With a haunting Mexicali beat, the grisly tune examines the mounting threat of a growing pack of wolves.

Even more harrowing is the fuzzy tale of child abuse and sibling murder in “Ol’ Boy, Old Rope.” Yet, like Witte’s playing in so many of his songs, an absorbing mix of clean picking and disturbing distortion lifts the macabre, morose immorality play up from the depths of Witte’s dark, lyrical soul. 

“Back from the Dead” recounts how life can turn you into a zombie if you let it. A soft, simple country accompaniment sounds like how the aching hollow within the protagonist’s bones must feel. The same feeling permeates the regret expressed in “Sometimes the Devil Gets Inside,” about unforgivable anger when love is on the line, and “Angel Plays Dirty,” a harmonica-driven she done ’em wrong that turns that devil inside into dust. The Clapton-like slide and Dylanesque melody of the instrumental “King and Queen of the Gutter” also impresses. 

Most like Coach ’N Commando are the exceptional, bloodcurdling spaghetti western “3 Days Out and Time to Kill,” whose horse-hoof beat is brilliant, and “The Fly!,” what would have been a tasty chicken-pickin’ nugget about infidelity if it wasn’t marred by a warped track of a female opera singer interspersed throughout. I’m also somewhat disappointed in the lackluster performance of the Williams’ masterpiece “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” I’ve seen Witte perform this tune live a couple of times to much greater effect, but then that was with Coach ’N Commando, so maybe it’s just in keeping with “Ol’ Boy” as a more mellow affair.

John Swayne, Witte’s drummer for 20 years, makes a hefty contribution to the solo outing, as do Silverclouds vocalist-bassist Daniel Pena, Fatty Lumpkin/Om Trio bassist Pete Novembre, Mad Doctors drummer Greg Hanson, and Kentucky-based guitarist Tom Blankenship. Whether they will be backing him or not remains to be seen, but Witte will celebrate the release of “Ol’ Boy” on Jan. 12 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen with The Fermenters, Secret Admirers and Giant Flying Turtles also on the bill. 

Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at makinwaves64@yahoo.com. Like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.




 
Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info




FEATURED EVENTS

ART | COMEDY | DANCE | MUSIC | THEATRE | COMMUNITY


TOTO

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Count Basie Center for the Arts
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
category: music

Click here for full description


Richard Shindell

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Lizzie Rose Music Room
217 E. Main Street, Tuckerton, NJ 08087
category: music

Click here for full description


Lee Brice: Me & My Guitar

Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: music

Click here for full description


Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.







 

LATEST NEWS


Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center

(AVENEL, NJ) -- Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 10, 2024. They are known worldwide for their award-winning sound combining original pop songs with a unique take on traditional Irish music. Showtime is 7:00pm.


Danú Takes Audience to Ireland on March 10th




New Brunswick Performing Arts Center presents Chris Ruggiero's "Summer Serenade"




Lucy Wijnands Salutes Sarah Vaughan at March Jersey Jazz LIVE! Concert in Madison


Click here for more event previews







New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762
info@newjerseystage.com

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!


Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed


Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy