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Wild dreams of a great gig
Singer-songwriter Matt Woosey is playing the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, Birmingham, on May 6, 2015. The 30-year-old from Malvern, Worcestershire, released his latest studio album, Wildest Dreams, at the end of last year. A live album, While The Cat's Away, was released last week. Here's what he had to say:
When did you first pick up a guitar?
I first started playing guitar at school. I had classical guitar lessons for a while but I really got into it properly when I left school and started doing my own thing.
Which artists influenced you most in your early days?
Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and a lot of '60s stuff.
Dreaming: Matt Woosey (pic: Stuart Stott)
When did your musical career really start to take off?
After I finished university and got myself together enough to start gigging five or six nights a week. It took a long, long time to build up a network of places I could play where I wouldn't be booed off! Over the years I have started playing bigger places to bigger crowds; I would like to think I'm most of the way down the runway to taking off!
Do you play any other instruments other than an acoustic guitar?
My weapon of choice used to be the electric guitar but as I fell in and out of bands I concentrated on mainly playing solo which lent itself to the acoustic and it kind of stuck.
Is this your first time playing at The Kitchen Garden Cafe?
I have played there several times with various bands and also solo gigs. It's a great place to go back to and the audience has grown each time which is fabulous. It's a quirky place with staff who are into the live music so it's always a joy to play.
How many albums have you released to date?
Eight albums, one EP, two DVDs and a box set compilation of my first five albums plus the first DVD.
Have you a favourite album and if so, why?
Yes, Wildest Dreams. As soon as I had finished cutting it I was really chuffed with the results. I had a great team around me for the recording. It's such a cathartic experience to go into a studio and put all your newest material down. I've reached a point where I have calmed down a bit from the earlier heady days of touring and the albums captures what I hope is a mature sound. There's not so much blues on this one but I'm excited about the new tunes.
Favourite: Matt Woosey's Wildest Dreams album
With so many albums, can you say what songs you are most proud of?
The one that I've been playing the longest is Cruel Disposition.
Do you still get a buzz from playing live and how does playing to a receptive audience make you feel?
Definitely. The day that stops is the day I get a real job. It's a great feeling to be appreciated for what you do in any walk of life. To do something creative which is received well makes all the ups and downs of the music industry and touring worthwhile. I get a proper adrenalin buzz from it when it goes well.
Do you get time to go to gigs and if so what was the last one you went to?
Not so much but I do see a lot of other music at the events and festivals I play at. I took my dad to see Chris Rea last month, I have a lot of memories of listening to him when I was really young.
Anyone in particular you like listening to now?
This week I've been listening to Scott Mathews, Van Morrison, Supertramp, the Doors, Chris Isaak, Cream, Richard Hawley and Big Mama Thornton.
Cafe gig: Matt Woosey
Who do you enjoy playing with most and why?
Dave Small. We have a good connection live, which comes from doing so many gigs all over Europe together. We kind of always know what the other person is going to do and follow each other well through improvisation.
How would you say the music scene has changed since you started playing?
I'm not sure if it has really, I'm doing much different things now compared to when I started but that's due to hard work and a slow but steady climb towards bigger venues and playing further afield. Any thoughts on what we should be doing in the UK to safeguard and strengthen live music and emerging natural talent?
It's a large and never-ending debate which musicians normally put to rights in the early hours of the morning. I personally think we have a huge spectrum of different opportunities for musicians and bands of all genres and abilities in the UK, from open mics to arena gigs, as well as a wealth of festivals. Music has always been a hard living to make and always will be, there will always be incredibly talented people who don't get anywhere. There will always be acts that tick all the commercial boxes who burn out like magnesium ribbon. If you want it bad enough then you'll keep going and try to be heard. Persistence is the key to a true following of fans who respect you for what you do and not what you look like or how brilliant your cover version of Hallelujah is or how many Johnny Cash songs you know.
Live album: While The Cat's Away
What are your hobbies and interests apart from music?
I love swimming, walking my dogs and spending chill out time with my wife. And eating curry.
What advice do you give to young emerging musicians?
Take more clean underwear than you think you need. Don't stay longer than two hours at motorway service stations. Try and get references on promoters and venues before you agree to anything. Be yourself.