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Let’s listen to Matt Charles…

December 6, 2010 by · 2 comments

Ludmila Yordanova

Мат Чарлз

Matt Charles

This is a true story. A story indeed. Almost a saga. It has a protagonist – the singer and composer Matt Charles.

It also has the circumstances required for the story to happen. The wind, the rain and the sun of Hamburg (the order of appearance varies).

There are three different locations where the action takes place – Cotton Club, Spielbudenplatz and The Academy. In the third place one drinks, whilst someone sings. In the second you may also have a snack, while that someone is singing. And the first place is for singing until you run out of the breath and the heart to do it.

The story has a beginning – 23rd July 2010. I hope that this story might turn out to have no ending at all, but one episode is already finished. So I thought I might as well tell it…

For the first time I realize what it means to be a music fan in the literary sense of the word. My heart is in my throat because I will probably not have the chance to hear Matt soon. For the first time I have been learning song lyrics only by listening to them. It is an unusual way to realize how young you are when you are in your later adulthood.

I knew a few things about Cotton Club in advance. For example, that it is ancient in comparison to the other clubs in this city and that it is a place for people who value what they are offered. Nice jazz, pleasant challenges, an authentic environment from the 50s and friends to share the experience, the drink and the good conversation in Hamburg, that I am still a stranger to. Yes, I thought I was prepared.

When Matt started singing the first thing that stuck me was the fact that he made me actually listen. God, I was UNDERSTANDING! As a poet, clerk and a writer, linguist by heart, grammar master by vocation, I swear – usually a good song is just a good song. Music is leading. But without the words it’s somehow empty. And because of some of the songs released in our country I am not even able to listen sometimes…

Let’s add to this how hungry I was to UNDERSTAND something from the language of the foreign-speaking sea in which I was diving.

But today, three months later I know even more. Even the tiniest detail can be just a nuance of the pallet.

Let’s listen to Matt…

That was Bull’s Eye! From the first song. He was singing about some things that my mind and soul were discussing exactly at the same moment. Not only was I UNDERSTANDING., but I was feeling as if someone understood ME.

Yes, and the second song was for me too.
And the third one.
And then I don’t remember…

As it happens after the third glass.

I got an autograph using a friend of mine as a mediator. My poor English abandoned me completely…

Now I know more. But at that moment, I realized something with my entire heart.

To get the meaning of Matt’s songs is easy. He speaks in a simple and clear way about the things we really do say to our beloved ones, to our friends, to the other, to ourselves. The phrases are easy to follow. The choruses open all the senses to perception for the message.

And the message is beautiful. Be yourself, yourself, yourself. When you love sincerely. When you leave sincerely. When you fail sincerely.

When you give the other the freedom to be themselves.

The music in Matt’s songs reminds us of what is behind the surface of the simple and natural things – the things we see, say, or hear. Often, underneath those surfaces there are unexpected depths. Sometimes radically different from what we thought they would be.

The music leads you into the message. It reveals, conquers, passionately holds you and kisses you even when it says “Don’t kiss me again…”

Accompanied by Bernd Kuhl and Mickie Stickdorn, it is easy to feel as if you are the singing protagonist in Matt’s songs.

Мики и Бен

Mickie and Ben

Mickie is the constantly beating heart that you realize is beating only when it skips.

Bernd Kuhl is a different story. Secretly he prepares the horizons of the distance for the voice and the message of Matt. The solo of his electric guitar does blend in with the rest of the music. Instead, Bernd turns his solos into a way of his own self-expression.
The moment is only his.

The first time, I thought this was quite generous from both sides.

Today I know more. Bernd’s original solos reflect the idea of freedom and the message to be yourself in Matt’s songs.

“You can say what you wanna say.
I will not break you…”

All of this is amazing. I am not a musician and I am probably speaking as if I have just discovered hot water. First of all, this can be better written. Second, it can be written about many artists and their bands. And it would be true to some extent.

However, Matt is the unique one in this story.

Every time I see him, I wonder if he puts a boundary between his stage persona and what he is in real life. Even if he does, I can’t distinguish that boundary.

Matt has a warm, sincere, entirely devoted, devouring, magical and vulnerable human presence. You can feel it from the moment he appears on stage as he puts his mascot on the microphone, plugs everything in, checks the same things for hundredth time, messes about with Mickie and Bernd and as he carries out his sound and ears-of-the-audience check…

He stops singing, he waves his hair, shakes his head, greets someone, chats to the newcomers and to those who are leaving, chats to the couple in love sitting on the right and he sips from his drink.

Sometimes the next song would start all of a sudden. At other times it would take a moment or two, maybe three, for Matt to have his time of distraction and fun.

Warm, warm, warm…
There is no plan in advance, just yourself and Matt in that moment.

The smile is his weapon. He attracts and distances with it, disarms or builds up a wall. He sincerely announces it when he is ready for a new battle…

When he sings it can be really hard to to notice anything else. It’s a good thing I’ve taken some pictures in order to remember exactly what he looks like, and it’s good that I’ve heard many of the songs more than once, so that I could afford to take pictures. Otherwise, I would have simply been too into the music for anything else.

Warmth and sincerity…
You hear and feel the real things.

Now is the moment to say that this is the story of an interview. When I questioned Matt, he answered my questions as warm and sincere as he lives on stage.

Мат пее...

Matt sings...

However, I am still waiting for answers to some of the questions, and I am excited for the challenge of finishing the interview, and for Matt to say “there you go, this is it.”

A logical continuation of this story seems to be a visit from Matt and his band to Bulgaria. I truly believe that this is what is going to happen indeed.

But I am warning you: I’m not sure I can prepare you for that meeting.

Despite all the circumstances, the time and the way in which they happen, the wonderful experiences with good music and warm sincere people are always miracles.

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