Whatever Happened to... Matt Barrett?

Matt Barrett and Pig

I think it is about 20 years since my last show. It depends on what you define as last show though. My last gig was at The Cave in Chapel Hill. I went to the bar and set up, went across the street to Pyewacket and had a couple glasses of wine and something to eat and then returned to the bar. The only person there was Mouse, the owner. I sat around for awhile and when nobody showed up I packed up my stuff and went home vowing to never play again. Except for a reuinion show at the Old Captain Bar in Sifnos, Greece with my now deceased friend and mentor Dorian Kokas, I never did.

People come up to me on the street and ask me if I am still playing. I am generally a polite person so I don't say what I am thinking which is "Maybe if you had come to see me once or twice I wouldstill be playing". A lot more people know I am a musician than have ever heard my music. I guess that is a testament to my marketing abilities. After all I do own The Posterguys, the company that puts up all the band flyers in my town. Not that I am bitter about the collapse of my musical career. It began as a vehicle to get a girlfriend and I just happened to get pretty good at it. Maybe not the girlfriend part. But the rest.

It seems like since I stopped playing my life has sort of taken off. I have a successful travel site and I go to Greece several times a year and take pictures and write about it and I get to sit by the sea and drink a lot of wine. At least I did not quit playing music to get a job at Kinkos or in some corporation in Research Triangle Park. I feel like I quit music to do something better. Yes music lovers: BETTER. Music is a wonderful thing and I had some good songs but there are a lot of people who do it a lot better than me and with as little success. If a hero of mine like Robert Kirkland is a cabinet designer who am I to expect to be successful? I made some good music with the help of some very talented friends but the truth is that writing about Greece and helping people realize their dreams of going there is a lot more fulfilling than passing the hat and maybe sleeping with the bartender at the Cave. (Not you Mouse). Plus I got married, sort of, and had a daughter, so the easy-sex fringe benefit of being a musician lost its lustre.

I miss playing. For those who have not realized it, playing music and especially being a singer-songwriter is a big ego trip. You can believe you have some important message to the world, or your friends in the bar, but really you are just talking to yourself with spectators. If someone in the biz thinks they can make money off you then great. You are on your way. But don't kid yourself into thinking that you are using them to get where you want to go. That's like a fish thinking he is using the fisherman to see what it is like outside the sea.

But playing music for the sake of playing, with no expectations is the only way I could approach it. I didn't care how much money was in the hat or if I even got paid. Just as long as there was someone there to sing to. I spent thousands of dollars making records, tapes and CDs and then I just gave them away. I still do it. My guitars sit in the furthest corner of my room but every so often I find an old tape and walk over to Brent at Kitchen Mastering, and commit some of these songs to the medium of the day. A re-release of a Matt Barrett Classic album! (Limited Edition)

Anyway I am getting tired of telling people I am starting to get back into it. It is starting to sound like a lie. I may play again. I may not. Does it matter? The good thing is that should I decide to start playing again it won't take long to get my chops back as they say in the music world. Only because I did not have any chops to start with. Just a handful of good songs that I still get off on when I listen to them loud in my room or with my headphones on. And for me that seems to be enough.  

Oh and before I forget, I want to thank Holden Richards who built this website for me almost before I even knew what a website was and what you could do with it. I have added to it but kept his original design pretty much intact. If there is one person who has selflessly helped me throughout my musical career it has been Holden.