Matthew Curry

Curry’s roots certainly run muddy-waters deep, something that’s not been lost on the guitar legends he’s had the honor of sharing the stage with over the past few years. “Matthew Curry is a phenomenal guitar player,” marvels Peter Frampton. “A highlight from my tour last year was jamming with him. He’s the next guitar hero!” Echoing that sentiment is Steve Miller, whom Curry both opened for and joined onstage during an exhilarating nine-date run in Canada in 2014 — and will again be his opening act for a slew of dates starting in May. Steve Miller declares that Curry is a “wonderful guitar player [and] great songwriter in the Stevie Ray Vaughan area of virtuosity and originality.” Besides continuing on with the Steve Miller Band, Curry will also be opening for The Doobie Brothers and Don Felder. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” Curry says of supporting these and other heavy hitters. “We have so much fun out there and I really, really enjoy it. I grew up listening to those guys, so to be out on the road with people like Don Felder, The Doobie Brothers, and the Steve Miller Band is quite an honor.”

Not only does he get to go toe to toe and string to string with some of his heroes, but Curry recently became one of only 10 artists asked to be a part of The Fender Accelerator Tour, a program that provides developing artists the resources needed to get out on the road and spread the good word about what they do and where they can be seen next. Fender provided a touring van, promotion, equipment and publicity to their 2 Million plus fans!

While Curry loves it when his band headlines its own gigs, he also sees the opening slot as a way of winning over new fans one lick at a time. “Part of the reason people like us so much is because we’re not just a corner-bar blues band,” he reflects. “We’re trying to make an impact and connect with audiences as best we can, even though when they see this young blond kid with a Stratocaster walk out there, they’re thinking, ‘Just get it over with.’ I know they’re there for someone else, but we’re able to grab their attention, so I like to think some of those people are walking away as fans.”

Curry believes the way to convert an audience is to perform an undeniably engaging set. “One thing I really enjoy is putting together a show,” he acknowledges. “We all have so much fun when we’re up there. Interacting with your bandmates or interacting with the people in the crowd — like maybe jumping off the mike and stepping out front and singing to them really loud — can really make people think, ‘This is so great!’ Sometimes it’s the real simple things that will connect you to the audience like that.”

As much as Matthew Curry is invested in summoning the spirit of the blues — a commitment that’s in full display on the pair of smokin’ hot albums he’s released to date, 2011’s barn-burning If I Don’t Got You and 2014’s hard-charging testifier Electric Religion — the 19-year-old guitar slinger and soulful singer from Bloomington, Illinois likes to take a much broader view of his style. “If somebody came up and asked me what I would call my music, I don’t think I would say ‘the blues,’” he admits. “And I don’t think I would say ‘rock and roll,’ either. I would actually say, ‘good music.’ Blues is my first love, but I also love ’60s rock like Cream, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. I’m also into things like Southern rock, Chet Atkins, and The Allman Brothers. All of those artists are complete musicians. They write great songs, and they sing great too. They’re just incredible.”

All in all, it’s been an amazing trajectory for someone who just couldn’t get enough of that guitar stuff at age 4 to having a tune he’d written, If I Don’t Got You’s epic tour de jam “Blinded by the Darkness,” win accolades as the Best Blues Song in the International Songwriting Competition. “My dad had this beautiful Martin acoustic guitar, and he was really big into old-school blues like Muddy Waters,” Matthew recalls. “It really caught my ear. I can remember my dad sitting in his recliner and playing his acoustic while I would just sit on the floor, watching every single movement his fingers made. I was mesmerized by the sound.”

“Walter Parks is an extraordinary singer whose songs can break your heart as well as get you dancing. Lyrical and political, personal and otherworldly at the same time, transcendent as well as down to earth, Walter is a musical treasure, an artist of the highest caliber. To hear him is to be lifted into a mystical sphere. I adore him.” – Judy Collins

“A listen to Parks’ soulful Americana rock is to be immersed in warm guitar melodies, smoky vocals and troubadour narratives that gather strength with age.” – WNYC

Veteran blues and jazz guitarist Walter Parks has built an international career as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens, as half of the folk-duo The Nudes, and as leader of the neo-southern rock group Swamp Cabbage. Just as Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp has served as the headwaters of Florida’s Suwanee River, so has it served as the inspirational headwaters for Walter’s unique guitar concept – a banjo-esque fingerpicking style that toggles between expressing the swamp’s foggy, ambient underbelly and it’s eminent danger via the use of a modicum of pleasant distortion. Inspired by the sultry black gospel that wails from storefront churches and roadhouses in the American southeast, Parks’s raspy vocal lows and soaring operatic falsetto explore the frontier of the modern human spirit in search of a place where it can flourish.

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida at a time when classical music was offered in public schools, Parks began his music career studying the viola in the sixth through eighth grades. After a transition to the guitar in 1973 he formed his first group, The Parental Tears Band (an ode to their parents’ shared dread that their offspring would pursue music careers). Succumbing to his parent’s advice that he lay the foundation for a more stable career, Parks enrolled in business school at the University of Georgia in Athens. Parks recalls “Unfortunately the fall-back strategy ultimately backfired as I became disillusioned with the mentality of making important decisions only in allegiance to the bottom line. I withdrew one year short of graduation. The best the thing about college was serving in the Student Union organization that promoted big concerts. Our budget was astronomical, our allegiance was to quality and most shows made money. I was fascinated by concert booking and production and I stayed to the bitter end at every load-out and roadies loved me. I learned that great reward could follow extra effort, for after a Dixie Dregs show I had the opportunity to play Duane Allman’s 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul, which at the time was in possession of Dregs’ road manager Twiggs Lyndon. I still feel the power and magic of that cherished guitar, which is now on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

In the early 1980’s, Parks returned to his hometown to form a fusion jazz band called Sneakers. “It was an exciting time when we could draw 200 people every Monday night on instrumental music alone” Parks states. Managing his own clothing store by day, Walter took quarterly buying trips to New York where he became magnetized by Manhattan’s pace and serious music scene. To fund his eventual departure from Jacksonville Walter created a society band called The Wing Tips taking full advantage of the prosperous Regan years. In 1989, after winning a Tangueray Rocks talent contest piloted by rock impresario Don Kirschner, he took his first original electric band Dear John, to New York.

By 1991, burdened by the logistics of running a band in the big city, he simplified and formed an acoustic duo called The Nudes with cellist Stephanie Winters. The Nudes recorded three albums and enjoyed a successful career touring U.S. colleges and folk festivals, serving for a short while as Richie Havens’ support act.

Road-weary and searching for a new perspective, in 1999 Parks traveled to Plum Village, Tich Nat Han’s Buddhist monastery in southwest France. Allowing himself time to reboot and reflect, Walter refers to the adventure as “the best vacation I’ve ever taken – living amidst unparalleled beauty, in complete tranquility, with plenty of time to listen to my life. Up until my very last day in the monastery, I told no one that I was a musician just to find out what was left of me, without the guitar as my identity.”

In 2000 Parks returned to New York in a business role as a label manager for indie MPress Records however in 2001 the New York scene re-ignited Walter’s urge to perform and he was asked to join Richie Havens’ trio. “Accompanying Richie from 2001-2011 and hearing that wonderful voice by his side on stages all over the world was incomparable honor. The grandest shows were at Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, The Cannes Film Festival in France and The WOMAD Fests in New Zealand/Australia but nothing compared to the frenzy Richie would incite at The Jazz Cafe in London.”

“My first move to New York, in a sense had been an attempt to shed any influence that my Florida roots might have had on my playing. I was chasing other styles –mostly European. Hopelessly, everyone seemed to notice the southernness in my music. One day it hit me that I already had what myself and every other artist comes to New York to find and/or exploit – a unique style. I therefore accepted that my path would be to develop the swampy North Florida sound rather than to obscure it.” Walter formed Swamp Cabbage and used any down time in Richie’s schedule to meticulously craft three fine analog recordings–Honk, Squeal and Drum Roll Please. Since Richie’s retirement in 2010 and passing in 2013, Walter has been focusing on Swamp Cabbage and solo performances. The band’s fourth CD “Jive” is due out soon.

Parks’ various music projects express both his diverse background as a musician and balance distinct parts of his personality. “I’m as comfortable with rural culture as I am with so called “high society.” I enjoy doing construction, chatting with locals and driving my Ford F-150 through the Georgia back woods, but I also enjoy throwing on a nice suit and taking in a New York museum.”

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