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Q97 Snapshot: Matthew Songmaker and the Mountain Messengers

10/01/2013 01:19PM ● Published by Enjoy Magazine

Meet Matthew Songmaker, a 14-year-old bluegrass musician from Shingletown via Thailand, who is amazing Northern California audiences with his group, Matthew Songmaker and the Mountain Messengers.

I met Matthew and his dad, Michael, at an Old Time Fiddler’s jam and soon after attended his album release party. I was enthralled by his extraordinary talent and stage presence.

Matthew was attending Black Butte School in Shingletown when, at the age of 6, he joined the after-school music program, picked up a fiddle and never looked back. And along with the fiddle, he learned to play the saxophone and the mandolin. And the guitar, the banjo and the stand-up bass. And this wonderful young man, who is one-quarter Thai, one-quarter Cambodian, one-quarter German and one-quarter Eskimo, also plays accordion!

It was just a couple of years ago that Matthew was busking in front of a local store. Karla Fultz was so impressed that she asked Matthew to perform the National Anthem at the Patriot’s Day event in Red Bluff. He was then invited to open for the Crist Family at the Church of God. He needed a band, so he put together the Mountain Messengers. They just released their second CD.

Matthew is busy. In addition to performing, he practices two to three hours a day. His dad said he has never had to push him to practice. The high school freshman takes three classes at Shasta College, and is an instructor for the music program at Manton School. When he is not creating, practicing or teaching music, he’s listening to it. His favorites include Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Chris Thile and Old Crow Medicine Show. He met and played for Old Crow when they came to the Cascade, and he got an autograph from Ketch!

So what’s in the future for Matthew? He told me he’d like to continue to play his music and be known throughout Northern California by his 18th birthday, and someday he’d like to perform at HardlyStrictlyBluegrass in San Francisco.

Check out the Mountain Messengers the next time they play. “Like” their Facebook page, and find Matthew on the web at MatthewSongmaker.com.

The Mountain Messengers are Matthew Songmaker, George Fredson, Don Palmer and Lloyd Raeg.

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