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Matt Murdick

Matt at the Big MuddySTLBlues: Where were you born?

Matt: Farmington MO

STLBlues: How long have you lived in St. Louis?

Matt: Lived here from 1989-1992, then from 1995 to present.

What's your favorite musical instrument?

Matt: Even though my primary instrument though grade school, high school and college was saxophone, I have always had an interest in piano and organ music. In college I took extra lesson time on piano because I was having trouble getting gigs on the horn, but all of the bands seemed to need keyboards, so by the time I was out of college I was known more as a keyboard player than saxophone, and now I enjoy keyboard instruments alot more than playing horn.

STLBlues: What are some of your musical influences?

Matt: On keyboards I have to point to some of the great jazz players,like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Count Basie, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, and then there's blues players like Otis, Pinetop, Rollin' Pete, Ray Charles. Around St. Louis there are still some great players that continue to influence my growth in the blues. Johnnie Johnson, Silver Cloud, Bob Loehr, and of course the late James Crutchfield and the 'king' Henry Townsend.

STLBlues: Who do you like to listen to now?

Matt: There's one out of town band that I try to never miss, who perform at BB's Jazz Blues and Soups, called the Gamble Brothers, out of Memphis TN. Otherwise I find myself on a night off, going to see Benny Smith, or Arthur Williams. I'll try to catch any show involving Brian Casserly when I can, and also enjoy catching the Bottoms Up Blues Gang from time to time.

STLBlues: Where did you go to college?

Matt: I went to college at Webster University (St. Louis) where I received a bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies.

You performed a lot in college! Tell us more!!

Matt: Like everyone in college I was broke a lot so yes I performed quite a bit while in school. One of the combo instructors at Webster University hooked me up with Gordon Lawrence (Con Alma) for a Latin jazz gig, and another instructor hooked me up with Lenny Klinger's Galaxy Band organization which was more or less a wedding band playing Motown and other R&B.

STLBlues: What were your childhood music influences?

Matt: One of the most influential piano players was actually Vince Guaraldi, from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Not so much Linus and Lucy, the one that everyone associates with the Peanuts gang, but more like his version of 'O Christmas Tree' and the nice little number at the end of the Thanksgiving special which I can't remember the name of at the moment. I also really got a kick out of listening to Wagner, and Tchaikovsky, I think because of how dramatic the music was.

STLBlues: Anyone in your family play music?

Matt: My father played trumpet when he was young, and my mother piano, though neither played professionally.

STLBlues: Do you have any recordings?

Matt: A few. I'm on Kim Massie's A Diva Survival Guide, Rich McDonough's solo release, and as a guest on Bottoms Up Blues Gang's South Broadway Blues. I also recorded a CD for an independant label out of Indianapolis for a jazz fusion group called The BeBops. That CD was entitled A Place Beyond.

STLBlues: What's your favorite music moment?

Matt: That one is tough. I think I can narrow it down to a few. One would be watching Jim McClaren wow an audience at the Sternwheeler Festival in Ohio, while we were performing with the Soulard Blues Band. Another would be the first time that St. Louis Social Club performed together at the Top Kat Lounge down in Isabella Mo. My most favorite moment experiencing hearing another band would have to be Chick Corea at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1988.

STLBlues: What goals do you have in your musical future?

Matt: I hope to expand my own solo project (Matt's Barrelhouse Blues) in the near future, including the release of a CD within the next year. Matt's Barrelhouse Blues is my solo project, where I sing and play blues, boogie-woogie and stride style tunes. For the most part it is a tribute to 'Rolling Pete', Art Tatum, Fats Waller, and the like. I try to stay away from Scott Joplin when possible but sometimes I through that in as well. The act is mostly a 'happy hour' kind of act, to supplement my income and give me an opportunity to play other gigs later in the evening.

STLBlues: What do you think of the state of St. Louis Blues music?

Matt: That's a little hard to say. There's always room for improvement of course. I certainly wish we could attract the 'industry' to more local artists. We have some fabulous players and bands in this town and they deserve to be recognized. On the other hand, I think the local scene has grown tremendously in the last ten years, thanks to more prominent local clubs supporting blues musicians and music. The Blues Society here in town does it's part to help as well of course, with special events, the Mission Fund, and the newsletter. And of course don't forget this wonderful website. It's great to have an online source for what's going on around town in the blues world.

For more info on Matt Murdick, check out his website!

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