Inspirations: Matty Sheets

If you Googled "blockhead definition", the first thing you would see at the top of the page of results is the following:

block·head  

/ˈbläkˌhed/
Noun
A stupid person.

Synonyms
dunce - numskull - dolt - loggerhead - dunderhead - fool

 

Greensboro-singer-somngwriter-Matty-SheetsMatty Sheets. photo from Monkeywhale ProductionsBut then... why would I ask you to look up blockheads, or what interest could there be in what is pretty widely accepted as a descriptor of a dolt? Well, all is not as it seems in the world and being a "blockhead" can be a good thing, if you're among the right friends. Such is the case when these dunderheads, as the synonyms would have you believe, are really the supporting musical cast of "Matty Sheets & The Blockeads". But first, some personal history...

The year was 1997 (roughly, and that's as good as it gets in my brain these days... heh). A coffee shop called "Perks Coffee & More", newly opened on South Elm Street in Greensboro, had become the talk of downtown coffee lovers who would no longer have to travel blocks or miles to find the nearest Starbucks. Once rumors hit the street that Perks would be hosting live music, a regular flow of curious musicians started drifting in with hopes of booking a gig. I know all too well. I was one of those musicians and a fortunate one at that, for I did get a gig at Perks. But I digress. During that time, a pair of unassuming guys with rather cavalier attitudes going by the name "Matty & Gino" began playing from time-to-time at Perks. What struck me about them was, unlike me or many of my other musician colleagues, they did not play the expected cover songs, caving to audience or business-owner pressure. They boldly played their own songs with a bit of happy-go-lucky irreverence. But I never took that to mean they weren't serious. I kind of got the feeling it didn't matter what I thought, or anyone else, as far as they were concerned. These two seemed to have decided quite early on that doing their own thing was the ONLY thing to do.

Flatiron's open mic recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary.As is often the case in life, we all ended up going our separate ways. It has only been in the last couple years that I have seen the name Matty Sheets popping up in all sorts of places around Greensboro, but that's not because Matty hasn't been busy. Oh no, quite the opposite. It's more that as I begin to change direction in my own music endeavors, I am becoming more knowledgeable and aware of what's happening locally. Perhaps Matty's most visible and recognized achievement has been hosting what could possibly be the longest-running and arguably most successful open mic in the area, which happens on Tuesday nights at The Flatiron on Summit Avenue. You might even catch him on stage there doing a tune if you're lucky. He is a confident and animated Emcee who has built a family of performers who seem to know and like him and each other, breaking into spontaneous collaborations on any given night.

Open mic Host is only one of a long list of notable things Matty has been involved in since he and I last spent any length of time together. What does the rest of the list look like? Well here, take a look...

Add to the list above the fact that he has been in at least a dozen different bands over the years, the most current being "Matty Sheets & The Blockheads" and "The Slow Drivers", and you can quite easily see that finding time to eat and sleep must be a challenge. You have to be passionate and driven to work this hard and you have to make peace with the struggle that is a way of life for many in the arts. Oh, and by the way, Matty is also a huge advocate for his fellow musicians and doesn't mind "speaking his mind" on the subject or making efforts to lift up the "Creative Class" when possible. I ran into him recently at a meeting hosted by the City of Greensboro to discuss the drafting of regulations and procedures to provide permits for local and travelling musicians which would allow them to "busk", which is to say... perform on the streets as can be commonly seen in many other cities throughout North Carolina and beyond. Matty was very honest about his feelings on the subject and very clear and concise when asked to speak, or offer his take on the topics being bantered back and forth that day. We owe Matty Sheets some big thanks for being an ever-present, ever-persistent force to be reckoned with on the local music scene.

Here's to you Matty!