Three Minute Movie

Matthew Alexander

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Daredevil Angel

Matthew Alexander

Powerful and melodic songs, outstanding acoustic guitar, warm vocals and tasteful production with backing drums, percussion, bass and organ.

Singer-songwriter Matthew Alexander is passionate about his new disc, Daredevil Angel. “It has taken me four decades to have the skill and confidence to make this record…this is the best work I have ever done in the studio”. His disc, due to be released shortly was produced by Charlotte, N.C. jazz legend, Fred Story, and contains fifteen original songs in a contemporary folk genre.

To be sure, four decades is a long time. But the New York native turned Charlottean has certainly had his share of musical adventures during his lifetime.

“Discovered” at a New York summer camp in 1966 by Tin Pan Alley songwriter, Lou Stallman (author of the Yankees theme song and the R & B standard “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle”), Alexander went on to perform the coffee house circuit in Boston, headline at the Nameless Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and develop a friendship with Bonnie Raitt while attending Harvard University in the late sixties.

“At that time, Cambridge was a hot bed of folk music. During my freshman year, some friends came over to my dorm room and brought a singer from New York City. All I knew was that she had a big smile, wore long boots and sang with a group called the Simon Sisters. We spent an entire afternoon swapping songs. It wasn’t until years later when she had a big hit on the radio that someone told me that that singer was Carly Simon.”

Upon graduation from Harvard in 1971, Alexander moved back to New York City where he auditioned for another “Simon”, his idol Paul Simon, whose songwriting class he sat in on at NYU (Simon praised his finger picking). During this same time, Alexander opened for Billy Joel in Greenwich Village and fronted the folk-rock band Moonshine who opened for Bruce Springsteen on the Upper East Side for five nights in 1972.

“When Springsteen strapped on his electric guitar and started singing, we knew he was going to be huge. I have never seen anyone command the stage like he did with his E-Street Band. We went out to a bar after closing night and Springsteen ordered milk” Alexander recalls.

When Moonshine broke up after spurning a singles deal from Vanguard Records, Alexander spent three years in Los Angeles where his songs were published by Criterion Music, Warner Brothers Music and Four Star Music.

“I wanted to be where the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and America were recording. It was exciting to be in the heart of the music business, make the rounds of publishing houses and drive down Sunset Boulevard past billboards of all the latest singers”.

During his time in L.A., Alexander was courted by Elektra Records, performed at the famed Troubador nightclub, hung out with Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and had songs held by such well known artists as Andrew Gold. He also was a pianist for the L.A. comedy troupe, the Groundlings.

“The Groundlings was the launching pad for a lot of the Saturday Night Live comedians. I played piano and made up songs on the spot with the cast members based on words shouted out by the audience” Alexander informed me.

Eventually, however, Alexander got discouraged by the fickleness of the music business and “packed it all in” to teach seventh grade at a school in Watts and eventually go to graduate school at the University of Michigan where he got his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1982.

“I remember the day I decided to go back to graduate school. I took the same song to two different publishers. The first one loved the verse but wanted me to change the chorus. The second loved the chorus but wanted me to change the verse. I knew at that time I had to get out”.

Relocating to Charlotte in 1984 to take a “day job” teaching resident physicians at Carolinas Medical Center and practicing clinical psychology, Alexander never forgot his passion for music. While in Charlotte, he started his own record company, Caravan Records, for whom he has recorded three albums: Wishing I Had Wings (1987), April Heart (1992), and American Boy (1999).

“My work as a psychologist and educator is extremely rewarding in its’ own right” says Alexander, “and occasionally provides inspiration for a song”. “Recently, I was making rounds in the hospital and talked with a patient with chronic pain. She wanted me to communicate to the resident physicians that all she wanted from them was one day without pain, just one day to walk around the block and feel the sun without the burden of her disease” Alexander told me. “I was very touched by her story and went home that night and started writing a song entitled One Day”.

One Day appears on Alexander’s new disc with accordion, bass and acoustic guitar accompaniment. It is a stand-out song. Daredevil Angel, in fact, showcases Alexander’s considerable gifts as a songwriter. His songs have the lyrical sophistication of his former instructor Paul Simon and the warmth of James Taylor, with whom he has often been compared. In addition to the aforementioned One Day, the disc contains the autobiographical song New York City Backwoods which references the suicide of Alexander’s oldest brother on the streets of New York, the Django Reinhart influenced title track Daredevil Angel, the eminently catchy America-influenced Joanna, the philosophical River City and the bouncy Chattanooga Boogie, the opening track.

With vocal and guitar tracks recorded live in the studio, Daredevil Angel has an intimate and accessible feel. Throughout the recording, Alexander’s acoustic rhythm and lead guitar work provide excitement and flair. Daredevil Angel holds up extremely well to repeated listens. The melodic songs are fleshed out by Fred Story’s tasteful keyboard, percussion and drum work. Daredevil Angel is truly the best work of Alexander’s musical career.

Four decades indeed. But this record is worth the wait!

You can find out more about Matthew Alexander and his new CD at his website www.alexandertunes.com . His disc is available at www.cdbaby.com/matthewalexander. You can also hear his song entitled Babies on an upcoming broadcast of the popular PBS children’s show Raggs Kids Club Band on WTVI and other PBS stations.

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Wishing I Had Wings

Matthew Alexander

The Flying Burrito Brothers meet Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Scaggs. An eclectic mix of pop/folk original and cover songs featuring stellar musicianship, vocals and crisp production.

Matthew Alexander has been a guitarist/singer/songwriter for the past forty years. He was discovered at age 16 at a summer camp by legendary songwriter Lou Stallman ("Gonna Take A Miracle" and "Round and Round"). Alexander had 12 songs published by Bornwin Music in New York City by the time he was 17 years old one of which was "held" by the Turtles. He was a frequent headliner while at Harvard University at folk clubs in Boston and Cambridge and, during this time, once opened for Bonnie Raitt (he also opened for Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel in th 70s).

Since then, Alexander has recorded five critically acclaimed albums for Caravan Records based in his adoped home town of Charlotte, North Carolina. His music has appeared nationally and internationally on radio and has been featured on television. He has won multiple awards for his songwriting and has been favorably compared to James Taylor and John Hiatt. He has performed throughout the USA at such venues as the Ark, the New South Music Showcase, the Double Door, the Visulite and Kenny's Castaways in NYC. His influences include Gordon Lightfoot, the Beatles, Laura Nyro and Bruce Hornsby.

Wishing I Had Wings features Alexander on lead vocals and guitar backed by North Carolina stand out musicians such as Jamie Hoover (the Spongetones), David Johnson and Houston Roper. The record was produced and engineered by legendary producer Steve Haigler, and composer/pianist Richard Putnam. Recorded at Reflection Sound Studio in 1987. Wishing I Had Wings has since been remixed, remastered and redesigned for a fall 2011 release. The disc features the cover "I Remember You" and includes three bonus tracks recorded after the original record was made. John Grooms of Creative Loafing said of this album in 1987: "crisp pop/folk...beautifully recorded...direct and honest...this LP put me through some changes". The changes that have been made to the original record transcend its original impact and deserve a careful listening by all music afficianodos.

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American Boy

Matthew Alexander

Powerful contemporary folk music with stripped down acoustic guitar and vocal sound

MATTHEW ALEXANDER

MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY

Matthew Alexander has been playing guitar since he was eight years old and writing songs since he was fifteen. His unique finger picking acoustic guitar style was modeled after Dave Van Ronk and Mississippi John Hurt. His award winning songwriting style has been influenced by such greats as Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. His songs have been published by Warner Brothers Music, Beechwood-Capital and Four Star Music among others.

Matthew was part of the dynamic folk music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late ‘60s and was a regular performer at Boston’s coffeehouses. As a solo artist and as founding member of the folk-trio Moonshine, Matthew opened in the early seventies for Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Joel. Since then he has performed at venues around the country including the New Music Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia; the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the Troubador and the Songwriters Showcase in Los Angeles, California; and the Double Door and the Latta Plantation Folk Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has won awards for his music from the Northeastern Music Festival and Songwriters Guild of Nashville, Tennessee.

Matthew has released four discs on Caravan Records: Wishing I Had Wings (1987), April Heart (1992), American Boy (1999) and Daredevil Angel (2008). His recordings have received critical acclaim. Mark Price of the Charlotte Observer said that his disc American Boy was, “a breath of fresh air that should have a place in everyone’s record collection”.

Matthew Alexander continues to perform and record in the Southeastern United States. He lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and two children.

American Boy Released in: 1999 Recorded at: The White Room Produced by: Mike Tate and Matthew Alexander

Synopsis Showcasing a stripped-down acoustic sound, American Boy features Alexander’s warm vocals, unique guitar styling and distinctive songwriting. The disc contains several stand-out selections, including “Another Name in the Stone”, a powerful ballad about loss and redemption; the melancholy “Old Love of Mine”; the crystalline finger picking of the traditional song, “My Creole Belle”; the riveting “White Crystals of Snow” and the title track, co-written with Elaine Wilson-Alexander, “American Boy”, an ode to the loss of identity in contemporary America>

Critical Acclaim

“Alexander was part of the explosive folk-music scene in Cambridge, Mass at the end of the ‘60s and later became a staple of Boston’s coffeehouses. His CD “American Boy’ offers the breath of fresh air we often search for in our album collections but rarely find” Mark Price, music critic, Charlotte Observer

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April Heart

Matthew Alexander

A soothing folk-pop style that showcases Alexander's guitar and piano playing, romantic songwriting and strong vocal style

MATTHEW ALEXANDER

MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY

Matthew Alexander has been playing guitar since he was eight years old and writing songs since he was fifteen. His unique finger picking acoustic guitar style was modeled after Dave Van Ronk and Mississippi John Hurt. His award winning songwriting style has been influenced by such greats as Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. His songs have been published by Warner Brothers Music, Beechwood-Capital and Four Star Music among others.

Matthew was part of the dynamic folk music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late ‘60s and was a regular performer at Boston’s coffeehouses. As a solo artist and as founding member of the folk-trio Moonshine, Matthew opened in the early seventies for Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Joel. Since then he has performed at venues around the country including the New Music Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia; the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the Troubador and the Songwriters Showcase in Los Angeles, California; and the Double Door and the Latta Plantation Folk Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has won awards for his music from the Northeastern Music Festival and Songwriters Guild of Nashville, Tennessee.

Matthew has released four discs on Caravan Records: Wishing I Had Wings (1987), April Heart (1992), American Boy (1999) and Daredevil Angel (2008). His recordings have received critical acclaim. Mark Price of the Charlotte Observer said that his disc American Boy was, “a breath of fresh air that should have a place in everyone’s record collection”.

April Heart
Released in 1992 Produced by: David Floyd Recorded at: Jay Howard Studios

“Formidable talents in all three areas of singing, writing and guitar playing” Bob Ruggiero, Savannah Good Times

“A welcome surprise” Dirty Linen

“Alexander has a talent for imagery…his voice is expressive, his command of form impressive” Carlo Wolff, Free Lance Writer, Billboard Magazine

“The qualities that earned Creative Loafing raves for Alexander’s ’87 album are still in evidence on the new one: romanticism, snappy melodies in a pop/folk setting, a clear vision and a good heart” John Grooms, Editor, Creative Loafing

“A rave review” Peter Basoa, Radio Rider

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Early Recordings

Matt Alexander

A mix of folk, folk rock and acoustic pop.

PRESS RELEASE August, 2008

MATTHEW ALEXANDER RELEASES EARLIEST RECORDINGS

Singer-songwriter, Matthew Alexander, has just released a new CD entitled “Matt Alexander: Early Recordings 1967-1977.” The CD contains 19 original songs that had their origins as either home recordings or demos made for record and publishing companies during the formative years of his musical career. “I see this record as a fulfillment of a promise made to my younger self” he told me. “It amazes me that these original audio recordings, some as old as forty years, have finally made it onto a CD. My stage name at the time I made these tapes was Matt Alexander and so I used that name for the disc.”

Getting the songs from audio tape to digital groove was not an easy task, Alexander says. “In the years between when these recordings were made and now, the reel-to-reel tapes on which they existed were carted around the country in cardboard boxes, stored in basements and closets, susceptible to moisture, mildew and extreme temperatures”. In order to restore them, Alexander had to utilize the services of a Canadian audiophile, Richard Hess, who specializes in restoring old recordings. “In many cases, he had to “bake” tapes and, in some cases, just let them sit in the open air for weeks at a time”. Since none of Alexander’s reel-to-reel tape recorders worked, he had not heard some of these recordings for four decades. “It was like opening a time vault to hear them again”.

The CD showcases Alexander’s original style of songwriting as well as his substantial talents as a guitarist and pianist. “I didn’t have the money to hire studio musicians so I played many of the instruments (bass, guitar and piano) myself.” The genres on the CD range from folk to folk-rock to country to classical. Perhaps the most arresting song is a song entitled “Bring Your Friends Home, David” a six and a half minute song about a young boy killed by a car in a freak accident. The song is written from the perspective of the grieving mother, flashes back and forth in time and has several tempo changes throughout. It is starkly performed with Alexander’s guitar, a second guitar and vocal.

“When I first played this song for my parents, my father, who was a classical composer, paid me the ultimate compliment and said that it reminded him musically of the great classical composer Schubert” Alexander told me. “The song attracted the interest of Lou Stallman, a prominent NYC music publisher who specialized, among other things, in novelty songs and who eventually published and produced the song”

Alexander got the chance to play this song for his finger-picking, songwriting idol Paul Simon. “My sister-in-law was a student at NYU and she was able to get me into a songwriting class that Paul Simon offered at the time. As a newcomer to the class, he walked in, looked at me and asked me to play a couple of songs on my guitar. His comment on the first song I played (“Nancy’s on my Mind” which is showcased in Alexander’s recently released CD Daredevil Angel) was that I was a good finger picker. He then asked me to play a second song and I chose to play “Bring Your Friends Home, David” Alexander told me. “Despite the fact that it is a long song, Simon immediately suggested that I play it a second time. After the second time around, he asked each member of the class to say what they thought about the song”. At this point in the interview, Alexander tenses a bit before continuing with his story. “The other students’ reaction? Half the class loved the song and half the class hated it. Finally Paul opined dismissively that he thought it was maudlin and informed me that one should never write a song with a name in the title that was not a name of a real person (David was a fictional character). Simon then moved on to critique the next songwriter”. “Needless to say”, Alexander says, “ I have never forgotten this encounter”.

The disc includes demonstration recordings made in 1971 for the record company Musicor which produced, among other artists, Gene Pitney. “Musicor was owned by a father and son team. The son liked my songs enough that he brought me into the recording studio with a studio pianist to record four demos (Crying and Going My Way are featured on Early Recordings). Unfortunately, his father was not impressed so that was the end of that”.

When Alexander moved to LA, he made the rounds of publishing houses. One of these publishing houses was Four Star Music. “I would go from publishing house to publishing house with my guitar and play my songs. I hit pay dirt one day when I walked into Four Star Music and played my songs for their A and R person, a young woman by the name of Jody, who loved them!” Four Star Music went on to be publish three of Alexander’s songs “Counting the Hours”, Give It Away” and When We Say Goodbye” and helped him demo many others. “Back then, if your songs were published, the publishing company would record you in the studio, press acetates (i.e. vinyls) of the songs and arrange for formal lead sheets to be made. It was the royal treatment”, Alexander informed me. “I would sign reverse clauses which allowed me to keep the song if no one recorded it within a twelve month period which is why I now have these songs published with my own company, Rising Moon Music”.

The CD includes three original demos of songs that show up on Alexander’s critically acclaimed CD Daredevil Angel. These are: “Shine”,” Right Now” and “When We Say Goodbye”. The CD also includes a political song (“Reap What You Sow”), a Beatles inspired song (“Oh Beautiful One”) and several finger-picking beauties (“Baby I’m Trying to Find You” and “The Master Craftsman”). The last song on the CD (“Love is an Endless Road”) is Alexander’s favorite. “I love the feel of that recording…the vocal and instruments really breathe. When I hear the song, I am transported back in a time machine to my younger years traveling the long, sun-drenched roads of Los Angeles in search of the holy grail of a recording contract. While I initially wrote it about a girl friend, the song now fits my feelings about my children, Ethan (aged nine) and Natalie (aged five)”.

When I played Alexander’s new recording “Chattanooga Boogie” (on Daredevil Angel) immediately after “Love Is an Endless Road’, the vocal quality sounded eerily similar despite the thirty odd years separating the songs. Alexander tells me, “I advise aspiring musicians and songwriters to find your sound and keep doing it! Eventually the world will catch up with you!” Sound words of advice, indeed, from a most accomplished sound man!

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