Solo Acoustic

Old Captain Sifnos

My solo career happened by chance. I didn't think I had the courage to be a solo guy and be able to sit up there and talk between songs or break a string on stage and have to deal with it. But we were supposed to do a show at the Art Center and I had promised Jacque Menage that the Dads would do it, and then Scott announced that he was going to the beach that weekend and no way he was going to change his plans. No problem. Let's just use Charlie Shaw like we did when Scott could not make it to Spring Fest at UNC. Zoe and Rick did not want to use Charlie because then God forbid, we would have to rehearse. So we did the next best thing. We broke up the band. But when I told Jacque he was a little bit angry so I said I would do the gig myself. I did. Luckily there were two other bands on the bill and instead of headlining, Matt Barrett, the now ex-Dad was opening the show. Nobody booed so I guess I was OK.

Quitting the Dads really opened up my summers for me so the first thing I did was save moneyt to go to Greece. My old friend Dorian Kokas had just opened a club on the island of Sifnos and invited me to play. Dorian had a pretty good career in Athens in the seventies and was at the age where stars in Greece open their own clubs because it is the only way they can get gigs.

The night before I was going to Greece I was cutting through The Cave to get from Pyewacket to Tijuana Fats. I was a little drunk and stopped for a moment when I realized that my friend Phil Lee was playing solo to a crowd of about 10 people. He pulled me on stage and I played guitar on some standards, I guess, I can't imagine what else I could have played, and suddenly he was gone and I was alone on stage. I played Nothing At All To Write Home About, which I had just written. When I finished, Meg, the owner asked me if I would do a show there. I told her I was leaving for Greece the next day. When I got to Greece (Pay attention because this is how musicians do things to become successful) I went to The Old Captain's Bar and said I had been playing at a club called The Cave in Chapel Hill. I got the gig in Sifnos and played every night for the entire summer and got pretty good. Then I came back to the states after 'playing in Europe' and began playing regularly at the Cave and all over the place and Frank Heath liked me so asked me to open for lots of famous people. Then I went back to Greece with a list of places and people I had played with and played the clubs and did a gig at the AN Club which someone recorded and released as a live album. When I came back to the states people had heard I was a 'star' in Greece.

Well I was never a star except maybe on Sifnos. But people liked my solo shows and some said they were better than my recordings. But I got tired of playing in Chapel Hill and the Triangle and did not feel like going on the road and being lonely and eating junk food and sleeping with a bunch of different women so I kind of quit. I played a couple more gigs at the Cave which I obviously thought were more important than the audience did because I showed up and they didn't. Anyway for me it is more fun to play an electric guitar really loud in my room than it is to play to a handful of people at the Cave who are not really listening.

From the 1986 Live in Athens album you can listen to Rebuild Our Love and God Bless You All.

Reviews of Live Shows

Local guitarist Matt Barrett provided an extremely solid opening set Saturday night and served as a nice foil to Richman's adolescent optimism. Barrett, who's been a staple of the cave and area clubs for close to 15 years balances his often cynical appraisal of life with an innocence similar to Richman's. Although not typical, Barrett's lighthearted songs add up to a healthy list, including "Six-Pack", about a lady who downs beer at the breakfast table for stability and "Nothing To Write Home About" a tale of a one-night stand which escalates into a weekend of captivity to a leather-clad mistress. For Barrett, politics is great songwriting fodder: he attacks the IRS, the "war machine" and the establishment in general on songs like "Let It Go", and "Is This It?", from his latest cassette release the price of illusion. While the tone of his political songs seems cynical, his simplification of issues like paying taxes betrays a very youthful outlook. Barrett attended high school in Greece and he draws upon his experience to offer up a very unique writing perspective especially on songs like "The Idiot", in which the speaker watches as a village idiot is derided. Eventually the speaker comes to identify with the idiot in the chorus: "Who are you and who am I?/We both live and we both die/Under clear and cloudy skies/And are we as mad to you as you appear to other's eyes?" Consciously poetic in his lyrics, Barrett often recalls Ray Davies whose songs he often covers. If you haven't seen Matt Barrett, you owe it to yourself. 


Junior Brown show

Local dude Matt Barrett opened the show, playing about 40 minutes worth of acoustic guitar and singing songs that were more like Rock-without-a-band than anything else. Barrett was good-he had some cool original songs in his repertoire, played some decent guitar and kept everyone interested.