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On stage with Iain Matthews

By Gary Wien

originally published: 08/22/2017

On stage with Iain MatthewsIain Matthews first gained attention in the late 1960s as a founding member and vocalist for the influential British folk band Fairport Convention on their first three albums. He went on to create Matthews’ Southern Comfort, whose cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” topped the charts in the UK in 1971. In addition to a lengthy solo career, he’s also released several albums with Plainsong.  In a strange twist, he has brought back both Matthews’ Southern Comfort and Plainsong at various times throughout the years.

On September 8, Matthews returns to The Strand Theater in Lakewood to perform with Jim Fogarty in a special “backstage pass” setup.  These shows place the artists and the audience on stage together. The Strand turns into something of an intimate listening room.  Matthews said he plans to play songs from throughout his career including ones that might appear on the upcoming album by Matthews’ Southern Comfort, Like A Radio, which is due out in 2018.

“I try to cover as much ground as possible, but ultimately only scratch the surface,” explained Matthews. “There will be old songs, but new songs too.  I’ve played in all kinds of configurations and the Strand is a unique but workable one, featuring direct contact with your audience. Ray Coles is gracious enough to keep having me back.”

His last album was called The Art of Obscurity, a thinly veiled statement to the music world that Matthews was not only still around but continuing to produce great music.  Like A Radio continues that message.

“Being on the outer curve of music and working without a net is an art,”  continued Matthews. “I love what I do and as long as that’s the case I will continue to be that obscure guy from the 60s. For me it’s not about the numbers.  It’s more a testament that I’m still here and feeling the muse. New recordings are musical calling cards, reminding people who you are now and where they can find you.”



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Matthews will never be just an obscure guy from the 60s.  In fact, Fairport Convention is often thought of as one of the most important bands in English folk rock history. Even though he was only with the band from 1967–1969, he was part of the pivotal creation of the group.  Looking back at that period of time, he says they were just “five kids having fun with the daily grind” - none of them had any idea about the importance of what the band meant to the folk scene or what they would mean to history.

“My entire career has been a series of fortunate encounters,” said Matthews who was very surprised when he topped the UK charts.  “Any kind of success in this business takes me by surprise. ‘Woodstock’ was the first and most exciting. It’s still opening new doors to this day.”

Matthews only came close to reaching the top of the charts one other time when his solo track “Shake It” nearly cracked the top ten in America in 1979.  Other songs of his to make the Billboard Top 100 include “Mare, Take Me Home” and “Tell Me Why” by Matthews’ Southern Comfort and solo singles “Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)” and “Give Me An Inch.”  A small sample of commercial success, but hit songs were never his focus.

“I don’t function in hit terms,” he explained. “For me it’s about evolving, both as songwriter, a player and as a human being. Hits are stepping stones. Every time a song becomes popular, one can add 10 years onto a career. I’ve been more fortunate than most.”

Instead of focusing on his songs, he has tried getting the most of the bands he’s been with — reuniting both Matthews’ Southern Comfort and Plainsong years after their original runs.  When asked why he decided to bring those bands back he said, “Mostly because we didn’t get it right the first time and I believe in completing circles. With Matthews’ Southern Comfort, I’ve resisted being a heritage act for 40 years and now it’s time to dig that furrow. We’ve recently finished a new album, Like a Radio, and later this year we’ll begin taking it to the streets.” 

On stage with Iain Matthews“If nothing else, it’s fun to keep changing horses,” he added. “Keeps it all fresh and vital.”

He recently found himself revisiting his career (over 50 years in the music business) when someone suggested that he create “memento boxes” for sale.  He wound up assembling a half dozen boxes or so, each crafted for a specific time period with photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, show tickets, and other memorabilia from show tickets to concert posters.

“It began as a joke really,” recalled Matthews. “I made one for a kind benefactor and liked the result. I had a couple more requests and it just lifted off from there. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for something made by these hands from my personal archives, I’m your man. Just name your era.”

Iain Matthews will perform with Jim Fogarty at The Strand (400 Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, NJ) on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $19.





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Hope 10 - The Final Hope Concert To Take Place On December 23
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Musician, bandleader and community icon Bobby Bandiera and the Count Basie Center for the Arts have announced details for HOPE 10 – THE FINAL HOPE CONCERT. The annual charity concert, which has raised millions for area community organizations, will take place at the Basie Center on Sunday, December 23. Tickets range from $50 to $500.
Mayo Presents Puddles Pity Party
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Puddles Pity Party -- The "Sad Clown with the Golden Voice" -- comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center with his heartfelt anthems and a suitcase full of Kleenex!  Puddles Pity Party performs on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $35-$55.
State Theatre Present A Tribute to ABBA
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(LANOKA HARBOR, NJ) -- Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center  will be hosting a Halloween-themed event, Mischief Masquerade, as part of their Speakeasy Series on Tuesday, October 30th. This October event follows their previous “Prohibition Party,” which was a great success. The Mischief Masquerade will run from 7:00pm-10:00pm and will feature a Halloween DJ, a costume contest, vendors, mixed drinks from Asbury Park Distilling, a $5 bar menu, tarot card readings, henna and more! The event is sponsored by Breaker Zine, an arts and culture magazine, and Asbury Park Distilling.
SOPAC Presents Roots Music Legends: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have been filling canvasses with music of the American West for decades, coming from two very different directions. Now, they will play together at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on November 1 at 7:30pm for the very first time. Though far from home, Alvin and Gilmore’s first duo album, Downey to Lubbock, contains all the elements that have sustained their musical journey through the years.


Cliffside Park, NJ Celebrates "Cousin Bruce Morrow Day!"
A crowd of local residents and dignitaries gathers outside Public School #6 in Cliffside, NJ on this beautiful fall evening. They are all awaiting the arrival of the “man of the hour” — celebrated radio DJ Bruce Morrow — since Mayor Thomas Calabrese has proclaimed today, October 5, 2018, “Cousin Bruce Morrow Day!”
Cynthia Sayer and Her Joyride Quartet LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
The audience is already in place this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts for a special “Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon” performance by Cynthia Sayer and Her Joyride Quartet entitled The Hot Banjo Show!
Whitney Houston Exhibit Opens at The GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center
Interviews with Pat Houston, President of The Estate of Whitney E. Houston and Bob Santelli, Founding Executive Director of the Grammy Museum
"Very Happy!" The Buckinghams and Cowsills Star in Cousin Brucie's Rock and Roll Yearbook Vol. 2 LIVE!
Fall is in the air at Homdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center this Friday, September 28, 2018 evening as thousands of ’60s music lovers ready themselves forCousin Brucie’s Rock and Roll Yearbook Vol. 2! The show — produced by Cousin Brucie, along with Rob Albanese and the Garden State Arts Center Foundation — features four fab acts from the 1960s: The Buckinghams, The Cowsills, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, and The Orlons!
“Brilliant!” The Young Dubliners LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a mild Saturday, September 29, 2019 evening as fans of Celtic rock are streaming into Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts for a concert by The Young Dubliners.










Event calendar
Sunday, Oct 21, 2018


MUSIC

DiTrani Bros: Folk, Swing, Jazz, Ragtime!! @ Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse, Dunellen - 7:00pm

Jazz Guitarist Abe Ovadia @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Gypsy Jazz Brunch with Pyrenesia and Max Hansen Buffet @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

Dryden Ensemble: Bach Cantata Fest @ Miller Chapel (Princeton), Princeton - 3:00pm

Suzzanne Douglas @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm


THEATRE

The Ghost Princess @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

CDC Theatre presents A Few Good Men @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 2:00pm

Wait Until Dark @ Somerset Valley Playhouse, Hillsborough - 8:00pm

World Premier of, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, A Horror of a Play @ Forum Theatre (Metuchen), Metuchen - 3:00pm

The Color Purple @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

Almost, Maine @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Black Tom Island @ The 1882 Carriage House, Liberty Hall Museum, Union - 3:00pm

*Uncle Vanya, Scenes from a Jersey Life in Four Acts @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 7:00pm

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie @ Westfield Community Players, Westfield - 2:00pm







DANCE

DRACULA - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 4:00pm


FILM

A conversation with John Cusack Following a screening of Say Anything @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:00pm


KIDS

Summit Farmers Market Pumpkin Painting @ Summit Farmers Market, Summit - 10:00am


POETRY

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 9:00am


MISC

HAUNTED ILLUSIONS LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 3:00pm

THE MAGIC OF BILL BLAGG LIVE! @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm

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