The Saint Peter’s Fiesta

My album The Suite Acoustic began with a composition I wrote soon after graduating from college. I was inspired to write it after watching the 8mm films of my Grandfather. My Nonno used to film the vacations that his family went on. One day my Mom had the footage converted to VHS and scored it to various songs. The effect was powerful to say the least—there was laughter, tears, the full gamut of emotion and the realization that my family has been through a lot and has shared some really memorable moments.

My Nonno passed away in 2003 and I shelved the project. I didn’t want to revisit this idea that he inspired because I wanted him, most of all, to see it. It was just too painful. So I just let all of the footage and the piece itself rot in a closet.

Then, in 2009, I began to question what the hell it was I was doing with myself in the grand scheme of things. Am I an artist or just a wedding guitarist getting by on my classical/wedding repertoire? Was I just living for a paycheck or did I want something more? As I have mentioned on this blog I was inspired by having my work recognized on YouTube and I was finally motivated to create more as I felt that, not only was it fulfilling to me as an artist, but maybe somebody else out there would find this material as compelling as I did.

And people did. My 8mm film “Our Time Is Short” got accepted to the Flicker film festival and screened in Brooklyn. There was something to this. People started to pay attention. People started watching my YouTube channel.

So I embarked on writing The Suite Acoustic. Each one of my original compositions on the album was supposed to be accompanied by a short 8mm film that I hoped would be as powerful as the 8mm films of my grandfather. Each piece had an 8mm film in mind while I was writing the piece itself.

The latest 8mm film was inspired by my wife. She grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts and came, like me, from a big Italian family on her mother’s side. Every year the St. Peter’s Fiesta takes place on the last week in June. The festival is an Italian “sagra” or religious festival that revolves around Saint Peter, the patron saint of fisherman. Gloucester has long been a fishing village since Italian immigrants first started coming there, and these immigrants often brought their trade with them to the new world. Just like Italian sagras the Saint Peter’s fiesta has religious events, such as the blessing of the fishing fleet, and the famed “albero della cucagna”, which in Italian means “The Tree of Plenty”. The Gloucester version of “L’Albero Della Cucagna” is a contest known as “The Greasy Pole” contest. Contestants walk along a greased telephone pole suspended over the ocean in an attempt to capture the flag on the other side. The result, as you can see from the video, is hilarious:

My wife and I go to the Saint Peter’s Fiesta every year. We love Gloucester and would like very much to move there, despite the fact that I have built a career here in New Hampshire for the past ten years. That makes it very difficult to pull up stakes and move, but you know, a man can dream.

On a side note I’d like to thank the talented genius Christopher Harn, who edited all of my 8mm footage for this video. I’m so glad I found hitRECord and, in turn, Chris Harn, who has been instrumental in helping me realize the full potential of the pieces that I wrote for guitar and 8mm film. I’m grateful to him and for his friendship. This could not have been possible without him.

I’d also like to thank Good Morning Gloucester for featuring my piece on their site. I was initially a little nervous when they featured it—it’s offbeat enough that I know not everyone will understand its intention as a piece. I love how, even though it was filmed in 2010, it looks like it was filmed 35 years prior due to the vintage look of Super 8. I got a good response to it, judging from the comments below the video on the page.

I have more 8mm films and more general YouTube craziness in the works! I can’t wait to unleash some more insanity upon the unsuspecting web. I have some really big projects in development as well as my first fan-requested YouTube video. In the meantime stay tuned to my YouTube channel as more updates will be coming soon!

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Internet Weirdo Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

It’s March so I’ve had enough time to sit back and reflect on 2013 and it occurred to me… Why did I only put out 3 YouTube videos in 2013? What was I so occupied with that I only managed to get that much work done?

Well, there was my first album, The Suite Acoustic, that I wrote and recorded. That was a 16 track behemoth that tested my resolve and my sanity but I managed to get it out regardless. I sold enough CD copies to put that puppy into its second printing so you know, that was nice.

What was the other thing I was doing? Oh yeah, I signed up with hitRECord. Forgot about that one.

And I kind of got involved with it. Obsessed with it. Lost in it.

For those of you who don’t know hitRECord is an online collaborative artist community started by the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The way it works is that people upload their art and, by doing so, give permission to other artists to remix their art into something new. For example, I could upload a guitar track and someone could, say, add vocals to it.

I got involved with some AMAZING artists. I mean really amazing. And inspiring. I still can’t believe this happened:

I never thought anything was going to come of it. I just wanted to make stuff. Work with other artists. I got way more than I bargained for! In just one year I scored some short films, laid down guitar and ukulele tracks on other people’s art, wrote a bunch of pieces, shot some videos, and learned more about home recording in one year than all years previous.

Then came the TV show, “hitRECord on TV”. Mr. Gordon-Levitt was taking this little site to the public via the Pivot network.

And I got into the TV show, along with thousands of other artists. I got to work with the amazing film and TV composer Brian Langsbard on a piece called “Above It All”. I submitted super 8mm footage for the episode entitled “The Other Side.” I got video (yes, my face on TV) and a guitar recording into the episode entitled “Patterns”.

So there it is. Pretty amazing. Life-changing, in fact. I gotta hand it to RegularJOE (Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord user name), somehow he got my ugly mug on to TV, ironing board in the background and all:

I know, that got on TV. Pretty crazy, right? All the episodes are available for download from iTunes if you don’t believe me! The above image is from Episode 8 RE: Patterns.

That being said, I can’t help but get the feeling that I kind of let my YouTube channel die to do all this stuff last year. But 2014 is different. I don’t have an album to record at the moment, although I did already finish my first piece for it. (Otep inspired me to write a piece to accompany her poetry so that’s probably going to be on album number two at some point). So I have a little more time than I did last year.

Long story short I’m already making good on my New Year’s resolution to do more YouTube videos. So here it is, my first YouTube video of 2014!

Yep, my first Disney arrangement! And man did this one bring back memories. I had this game at one point for the Sega Genesis and I remember it being impossible to beat! So much fun though. I’ve seen Disney’s “Alladin” at least 50 times. I had it on VHS as a kid and I loved every minute of it. Back then I had more time to watch a movie over and over and, since I grew up in rural New Hampshire, there wasn’t much else to do. It’s still an amazing film. If I had more time on my hands I would track down the 16 bit game online and see if I can beat it this time around. Alas, that will probably have to wait for another lifetime as I have way too much stuff to do at the moment.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Yes, I have more free time now that the whole hitRECord thing is over and my album is done. The 90′s X-Men cartoon theme! Done in costume! This video’s got it all! Cosplay! Guitar! Ukulele! Deadpan delivery! Enjoy!

Anybody remember the original?

So let’s recap: From my efforts last year I was able to put out an album and I managed to get on TV. I did all this at the cost of my YouTube channel but I’m working on building that back up. I already have a TON of arrangements ALREADY WRITTEN! All I have to do is practice them up and record them. 2014 is going to be crazy, mark my words. I have some insanity on the backburner that is just waiting to be unleashed. This year, just as in years past, I will be doing my part to keep the internet weird.

Posted in Classical Guitar Duets, My Arrangements, ukulele | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Albums that Made Me

This is a list of 10 albums most responsible for the guitarist I am today.  They are in no particular order, so this isn’t a “Top Ten”:

1.) John Renbourne—The Black Balloon
2.) Alexander-Sergei Ramirez—Sor: Compositions for Guitar
3.) John Williams—Spanish Guitar Music
4.) Pepe Romero—Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
5.) Sharon Isbin—Bach: Complete Lute Suites
6.) Yo Yo Ma—Bach: Complete Cello Suites
7.) James Levine conducts Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana
8.) Sabicas—El Rey Del Flamenco
9.) Miles Davis—Kind of Blue
10.) Pepe Romero—Giuliani: Complete Guitar Concertos

John Renbourne’s “Black Balloon” comes first to mind.  My parents played it occasionally but I became fixated with it when I was 15 or so.  I had been playing guitar for about 3 years and my playing was in a rut.  I listened to that album and was blown away.  All that from just one guitar?  Back in the day the Shanachie label (which put out Renbourne’s albums) allowed for listeners to send away for his music. I did and, sure enough, 6-8 weeks later I got the tabs to play the album! Some of Renbourne’s albums even came with the music inside the LP or CD! I got hooked. I would listen to the recordings and try to play them back as best as I could. Little did I know that John Renbourne would be my gateway drug to classical guitar, which had a similar technique. The rabbit hole went deep, seemingly without end, and here I am today. Sometimes I ask myself, “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?” I’m glad I didn’t.

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NEW ALBUM IN STORES NOW!!!

So, I recorded an album.

That’s right, a full length album. This is the dream of a lifetime come true. Ever since I received a guitar as a gift for my 12th birthday I’ve wanted this day to happen. Now it’s here and, in the digital age, it’s never been easier to get worldwide distribution for pennies on the dollar.

Here is a plethora of links to online stores that now carry my album:

The Suite Acoustic on iTunes

The Suite Acoustic on Amazon mp3

The Suite Acoustic on Google Play

And for you cheap freeloading streamers out there you can also stream my album for free on:

Spotify: Click here

MOG: Click here

Or stream it here on Bandcamp for free. Buy it if you like it!!!

Buy it. Stream it. Love it. SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Send this around— Facebook me, tweet it to me @mattguitarman, tell me what you think—make this happen! I want my album in the ears of as many people as possible.

Oh my, look at what just came through the door:

Order my new CD’s! Now available from the following local shops:

Spun Records 274 Central Ave, Dover NH 03820 (603)742-6939

Earcraft Music 432 Central Ave Dover, NH 03820 (603) 749-3138 (You can also get guitar/ukulele lessons from me here!)

Baldface Books 488 Central Ave Dover, NH 03820 (603) 749-2300

Bull Moose Music You can get the album from their Portsmouth, NH location at:

82 Congress St
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 422-9525

OR order it online from them! CLICK HERE!!!

Or you can order The Suite Acoustic directly from me through my Bandcamp store! Click here and then click on “Limited Edition Compact Disc”!

I didn’t make this album alone. I had help from some amazing people along the way. They’re mentioned in the special thanks inside of my album but I wanted to take a moment to thank them again here.

Who did the lovely artwork for my album? Why none other than local artist, friend, and fellow table top gamer Matt Talbot. Click here and check out his amazing artwork!

Who else is on this record? Why my violinist, Melissa Waterhouse, plays on tracks 3 and 7. You may have seen her before in one of my YouTube videos:

And Nick Lanzer plays guitar on tracks 9-16. You may know Nick as the epic viking helmet guy from my Skyrim video:

I should also mention that The Suite Acoustic was recorded at Tweeksound and at RowCo studios.

The album has already received two fanastic reviews, one from The Daily Album and the second from local newspaper The Wire. I’m psyched that my album is already receiving some attention and I hope it reaches even more music critics and fans of instrumental acoustic music.

So what’s next? Lives shows, people. Live shows. I’m cooking up some real 5-alarm insanity here. I am going to play, busk, and shop these tunes to everyone within earshot. I hope my music spreads far and wide. Check out my schedule for every venue and open mic I will be playing. If it’s not a wedding, come on down! Or crash the wedding. I’m good either way.

As for the artistic vision for my album: The Suite Acoustic begins with the Suite New England, a collection of my own compositions inspired by various places around New England. I plan on releasing an accompanying 8mm film for each of these pieces. I have low-fi home recorded versions of three of these pieces already:

These pieces and videos were very much inspired by the 8mm films of my Nonno. His 8mm films were a great document of the times he shared with his family. I very much wanted to use the same medium for the pieces I put on this album—old home movies and memories of things gone by were very much in my mind when I composed all of the tracks in the Suite New England.

There’s a lot of tracks on The Suite Acoustic so I want to take a moment here to explain what’s happening on this record:

Track Listing
——————————
1. On White Mountain Tops
2. 92 Second Street
3. Saint Peter’s Fiesta
4. The Seacoast
5. March of the Leaf Peepers
6. Our Time Is Short
7. The Dead of Winter
8. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
9. KV 65a Minuet #1
10. KV 65a Minuet #2
11. KV 65a Minuet #3
12. KV 65a Minuet #4
13. KV 65a Minuet #5
14. KV 65a Minuet #6
15. KV 65a Minuet #7
16. Reverie

The album starts high in the mountains of New Hampshire with “On White Mountain Tops” before descending into a haunted house in Fall River, Massachussetts. It then heads north to the Saint Peter’s Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachussets, where it attempts to capture the flag from l’albero della cuccagna. After that it meanders around The Seacoast before heading inland to join the March of the Leaf Peepers in Vermont. The end of the Suite New England ponders how Our Time Is Short before reaching its end in The Dead of Winter.

After the Suite New England is a brief service, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, to lament the passing of these pieces but to take comfort in the many great pieces ahead. After the service all are invited to join in some light but regal dancing with European nobility. The album closes with a reminder that it was all just a dream.

Now, a quick word regarding some of the wacky genres I have been put into on some of the aforementioned online sites. I submitted my album as an “Instrumental” album through tunecore but apparently some sites have decided to brand my music as something else. This was done without my knowledge or consent. I don’t agree with these labels, but apparently there is little I can do in regards to changing them. All I can say is that it’s a crying shame I couldn’t get into the “Death Metal” category. That definitely would have ended in some of the worst/most hilarious reviews in Google Play/MOG/Spotify history. Bright side: Someone who likes something as terrible as “Easy Listening” may actually hear a good album for a change whilst searching in what is, most probably, the worst genre in the history of music.

Do I really need to point out the irony of Google Play not using Google to, say, Google my name and find out that I am not a Christian/Gospel artist? But that’s where they put me. Instrumental classical guitarist? Nope, that doesn’t sell. Put it in the Christian section! Whatever. Well, if it means more ears then sure, fine. I’m over it. But seriously, I am an instrumental classical guitarist. I am not easy listening, I am not Christian/Gospel, AND I SURE AS HELL AM NOT NEW AGE, DO YOU HEAR ME SPOTIFY? NOT. NEW. AGE!!!

Then again I’m not saying that playing my album while shoving a crystal up your nose won’t heal all of your ailments*. Try it, see if it works, please tweet me @mattguitarman with the results.

Sadly all of this highlights the larger point that the genre of classical music just plain doesn’t sell. It doesn’t sell to the point that some sites don’t even have a classical genre, hence why I put my album in the “instrumental” genre. I also had the option to choose a “second genre” in tunecore and I picked “soundtrack”. I should also mention that I recently licensed all of the works on this album for film, TV, and radio, so you might be hearing more from me soon! Some of my compositions may become a soundtrack for something in the near future…

Stay tuned! I’ll be posting on my blog more frequently in the months to come. And, above all, please listen to The Suite Acoustic!!!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The Suite Acoustic is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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2012 Christmas Concert on 12/22 at 8 PM Via USTREAM!!!

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for my holiday Christmas Concert! That’s right: If you’ve seen it before you’ll want to see it again! This show’s got it all—Costumes, music (of course), special guests, holiday shenanigans, the works! So bust out the egg nog, cozy up by the computer, and enjoy some Christmas cheer! Just click on this embedded player on Saturday, 12/22/12 at 8 PM and enjoy the show!



Video streaming by Ustream

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The Holidays, A Game of Thrones, and A Special Transmission from Andrew Foy

I’m going into the studio this Sunday to start recording my first full length album of original compositions and arrangements. I could not be more excited! That means my workload is about to get crazy. I am going to try to get this album out by the Summer—I’ll be talking about this in my next blog post so stay tuned! All this in addition to: 1.) My YouTube release schedule and 2.) My Ustream Holiday Christmas concert! More details to come so please be patient, the next blog post is going to be a long one!

Yes, it’s November. Yes, Halloween has been over for nearly a month. My YouTube channel has ignored this fact entirely and will continue to do so. This month I served up my take on the theme to the popular show “Game of Thrones”. Yes, I know—does the world need another Game of Thrones cover? I submit that it does! I think my arrangement has a unique classical guitar/classical ukulele sound that you won’t find in the many arrangements that are out there on YouTube. Plus, as always, there are no overdubs. Nick and I could potentially perform this, among many other arrangements that we’ve done, at a live concert. Yes, that might actually happen. But I’ve said to much about it already… Here’s the arrangement:

Here, of course, is the original show opening for the HBO series “Game of Thrones”:

I love this show! I’ve been a sucker for the whole fantasy genre ever since my Dad read me the Hobbit in its entirety when I was five. Sadly I am too poor for HBO, which means I go over a friend’s house to watch “Game of Thrones” (watching this show with fellow nerds actually really enhances the experience!). In this arrangement Nick and I cosplay two sworn brothers of the guard. If you saw the last episode of Season 2, yikes… The brothers of the guard are in for quite the surprise. Season 3 is starting up in March and I can’t wait! That means the viewing parties are back on. I was told by one of my friends, Matt Talbot, that the sworn brothers of the guard take an oath not to choose sides. And yet, plain as day, I have the House Stark sigil in the background of my video. OOPS! Big mistake. That’s a big, nerdy mistake. Not confusing Star Trek with Star Wars big (which is punishable by death in more viciously nerdy circles), but pretty big all the same. Luckily I tend to run with a very docile crowd. They’ll forgive me, even if the internet might not. Still, my bad.

Speaking of Matt Talbot, he recently worked on some album artwork for me. Matt’s a next-level-brilliant artist (check out his website! HE’S BEYOND AMAZING: http://http://mattrobot.com/) and he agreed to do the artwork for my Christmas Single up on Bandcamp:

Look at how adorable that is! Matt did a brilliant job coming up with artwork inspired by LP covers from the 1950′s. Come one people, that’s worth a $1.00 in my humble opinion! Plus the music is nice and would make a worthy addition to your holiday mix. Throw it on your iTunes playlist this Christmas season. Am I laying this sales pitch on a bit thick? I hope so.

One more thing: People are transcribing my arrangements and putting them on the Interwebs! Here’s my original Doctor Who Arrangement, wherein I take the original theme and re-write it in 12/8 for solo classical guitar:

Someone transcribed my arrangement and put it here: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/m/misc_television/doctor_who_theme_acoustic_tab.htm I’m on Ultimate Guitar! Woo-hoo!

So, it was only a matter of time before this would happen. Here’s an 11 year old kid named Andrew Foy doing my arrangement:

He originally posted his video as a response to mine but then changed the response to another video. He probably changed his response to a video that gets more hits, seeing as how things age rapidly on the internet and my video is now, like, so 2011! Can you blame him? He should have a ton of hits for this! He did an amazing job. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from him soon. If children are our future then I say our future is looking bright!

Best part of the video: He saved up all his allowance money so he could buy a sonic screwdriver to use at the end of the video, just like I do in my video! I saw that and my two Gallifreyan hearts just plain melted. That’s money well spent, Andrew! I’m still enjoying my sonic screwdriver and I’m in my 30′s.

That’s it for now, folks. New update coming really, really soon, and I promise it will be worth the wait!

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Matthew Lister, Classical Ukuleleist

I haven’t been posting much on my blog lately. That doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. Tons of things have happened since my last blog post, but I’ve been too busy to stop and reflect on my work on this website. So here it goes, my first blog post in quite a while—I promise I will be posting more often starting… Now!

First off: I know, it says “Matthew Lister: Classical Guitar” on the website, but where you aware that I am also a classical ukuleleist? I’ve been writing a number of arrangements lately for guitar and ukulele. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been up to:

Here’s my arrangement of the John Williams’s “Imperial March” from Star Wars:

Just call me UKE SKYWALKER! *groan* No more puns, promise…

And yes, I have to confess that I have been sucked into the show “Downton Abbey.” What can I say? I’m a sucker for period dramas. Can’t wait for season 3! Here’s my version of the theme song for guitar and ukulele:

Compare mine to the original (I included more of the original piece in my arrangement than the TV show intro):

I plan on taking the whole “Cosplay YouTube Arrangement” thing I’ve been doing to the next level this year. More videos coming soon! Watch out for the video I have planned for Halloween. If all goes according to plan it’s going to be a doozy… Last year’s Halloween video really set the bar since it got featured in Doctor Who Magazine and on the BBC website. It’s going to be hard to top that so that’s why this year I’m going for over the top!

So why haven’t I made any new YouTube videos for 2 whole months? For starters, the amount of arranging I had to do for weddings this Summer was INSANE! It’s nice to have the gigs but I spent more time arranging for weddings than I did for YouTube over the Summer (What can I say? I need to make rent!). I regret nothing because one of those arrangements is *definitely* going up on my channel this year. This tune will be a departure from my normal YouTube cosplay arrangements and more of a return to form for me in terms of covering pop music. I know, why wouldn’t I do something a little more obscure? Typically I don’t go for well known stuff but I had to make an exception this time…

Reason Number 2 for the lack of YouTube-age: My YouTube accomplice/partner in crime Nick Lanzer got married! And yes, I did play his wedding ceremony just like he played mine. Nick just got back from his honeymoon which is why we couldn’t record any of the YouTube arrangements we were working on. Right now we have a backlog of stuff so my channel is going to EXPLODE very soon!

Reason Number 3, and the biggest reason, that I haven’t made any new videos is the fact that I am working on an album of original material and arrangements. The first third of the album is already out as an EP entitled “Guitar Duets, Mozart Minuets.” Click here to listen to the whole thing streaming for free! Yay Bandcamp embedded player!

The rest of the album is comprised of all original compositions and 2 more arrangements. I plan on putting the whole album up on Bandcamp and iTunes next Summer. My best seller on iTunes/Bandcamp thus far is still my cover of the Princess Bride:

It still blows me away how popular this arrangement is! This single is still going strong on iTunes! I’m hoping the audience that found me through my Princess Bride arrangement will enjoy my original work as well.

So there you have it: New album, new YouTube arrangements, a ton of gigs, and a full roster of guitar and ukulele students for the Fall… All this means that I am going out of my mind with work. And yes, I couldn’t be happier about all of it.

Oh! One more thing! I got my Subway Performer’s License and started busking in the Boston T! I will be tweeting my location when I do it so there you have it—a very rare opportunity to hear me perform live on a random Sunday! Just follow me @mattguitarman on Twitter! (*WARNING* I tweet about the nerdy stuff I like a lot…) Lately I’ve been playing guitar/violin arrangements with the very talented Betty Widerski. Look for us in the Boston Subway sometime!

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My Annual Christmas Concert 12/21/11 at 8:00 PM EST

Well it’s about that time of year again. The holidays are upon us and this year, like every year, I will be holding my live Christmas concert in December! Tune in on December 21st at 8 PM to hear me play holiday classics on solo guitar! So, on that day and time, grab a nice tall glass of egg nog and click on the embedded player below to enjoy some warm holiday goodness! Or you can CLICK HERE!

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