As an official media partner of the 30th annual St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, Montreal Theatre Hub brings the #FringeBuzz in 2021 with an all-new interview series with artists from this year’s edition of the fest! In this Snapshot, we feature MATT ENOS of ‘Matt Enos and the Rivermen’ – an electric blues and folk music concert inspired by southern swamp grooves and eastern melodies. Read our Q&A with the frontman of the Fringe show in the lead-up to its premiere on June 12th at Petit Campus.
MONTREAL THEATRE HUB: What is ‘Matt Enos and the Rivermen‘ about?
MATT: Our Fringe show is a rock concert. We’re playing mostly electric blues and some folk songs from the repertoire, but we’ve got some original stuff too. I had played with Gavin Marshall (Bass) on and off in various projects for the last 20 years, and we even went to the same University to study music. We use to play in a band called Snap Caravan and we’d play shows mostly in Sherbrooke but sometimes Montreal and Ontario. We had a myspace page! I’ve been playing music for the past 2 years with Sahand Mousavi (Keyboard and Violin) that has been mostly instrumental folk/world music, and wide wide open, and me and Roy Whybro (Drums) have had late jams and played a couple of gigs together pre pandemic. Luckily all 3 of these great musicians were available and wanted to play in a band for the Fringe and beyond.
MTH: What can audiences expect from the experience of seeing it?
MATT: Hopefully a good time. The music is high energy and emotional, and there’s a big improvisation component to it. We have a lot of fun playing with lots of expression, and we hope to share that feeling.
MTH: What was the idea and inspiration behind the piece?
MATT: The thing that got me into playing music was listening to groups like The Allman Brothers Band. The first time I saw them live I was 15 and it totally blew my mind. I’ve been an acoustic or jazz guitar kinda guy for most of my life, but since the start of the pandemic I’ve been playing electric guitar almost exclusively, which has opened up a whole new range of sounds for me. So, the more of that I played this past year, the more I started to think about actually getting a group together that could do the kind of show that I’ve always been excited and inspired by. I had actually meant to write a play or do some long-form improv for the festival, but something was telling me the time was right to take action on the music side of things and assemble a group. So, really, the idea is 2 months old, but it’s actually been something I’ve wanted to do for about 20 years. The other guys in the group are such strong players and they all have their own authentic way of speaking through their music; it’s a treat to play music with them.
Matt Enos (Photo Credit: Francis Martins)
MTH: Why did you choose the Fringe as the place to premiere this work?
MATT: The idea of playing 5 shows in a short time period was very appealing, and Fringe audiences are so ready to take in shows that it seemed like a perfect fit. My experience with gigs is that you often have to space them out over a few weeks or months, and everything is so variable that it’s hard to know what the hell happened musically. This is a chance to establish what we sound like in a live context when it’s not a one-off and to get a clear picture of what we sound like together when we’re not worried about the hundred extra things you need to deal with when playing a new venue. We’re lucky to be playing Petit Campus. They have such great sound and a great team there.
MTH: What has it been like trying to create a show during a pandemic?
MATT: It’s been relatively painless. We’ve been allowed to rehearse in a jam space, so aside from the masks getting in the way of singing, it hasn’t been that different. It does feel like we’re really lucky to be able to meet and create, and especially to have a goal to work towards. Music can get you through some very hard times.
Matt Enos (Photo Credit: Francis Martins)
MTH: What’s kept you driven to keep creating during this past year?
MATT: We’re all pretty connected to music in our day to day lives. We’ll often send each other music from all over the world via text or email, sometimes it’s just because it’s insane (like Japanese funk from the 80s) or because it’s beautiful and inspiring or intensely spiritual, or hilarious. What’s kept us driven to create? I think all 4 of us generally are always close to music and always working on something, even if it’s just listening. The past year has kind of forced us to spend more time inside with our instruments, and it’s been a great way to pass the time and release some of the feelings associated with whatever it is we were all going through. As soon as we agreed to do the Fringe, we got our practice schedule in order and met way more frequently. I’ve always found that making a poster that says “Hey, we’re doing a show on this date” and then sharing it with the public is always equal parts terrifying and motivating. You put your future self on the spot when you do that and it really lights a fire under you.
MTH: How does this show speak to our present times?
MATT: It’s a blues show with attitude and feeling that will hopefully bring some people together. We all really like spiritual music, and we try to bring that element to our playing.
MTH: How does it feel to be back presenting on a live stage?
MATT: It feels completely amazing and electrifying.
MATT ENOS AND THE RIVERMEN presented by H4C Productions plays from June 12-20 at Petit Campus (57 Rue Prince Arthur Est). Tickets ($15.00) can be purchased online at www.montrealfringe.ca
Trailer for Matt Enos and the Rivermen
Read here all of the interviews in the Fringe Artist Snapshots series: