Fresh off an airplane, Matt Hopper paid a visit to The Portland Playlist Wednesday night. He is a recent transplant to Portland by way of Alaska and Idaho. It was in an Alaskan high school that he picked up the guitar and never looked back, 10 albums and many compilations later. He is a guitar slinging singer-songwriter with music rooted in Country, Rock, and Blues, with elements of Psychedelic and Pop. He performs as a solo artist or with his full band, Matt Hopper and The Roman Candles.
Matt’s influences cover a wide range, Christian, Rock, Pop. We listened to two, Weezer’s, “Say It Ain’t So,” and Starflyer 59’s, “All My Friends Who Play Guitar.” Weezer is a group that heavily influenced him as a teenager, and the guitar solo in “Say It Ain’t So” blew him away. In fact, this song earned the #72 slot in Rolling Stone’s, “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” list. Starflyer 59 is a group Matt discovered in the Christian bookstore his Mom took him to. He wasn’t interested in the books, instead gravitated to the music section. The bookseller kept him immersed in music he thought would appeal to the young Matt.
We played a couple of his original recorded tracks, Entertainer, influenced by Richard Swift from Starflyer 59, Compass Point, a song he wrote in Mist, Oregon, and the more Country sound that is Wild Horse. His live performances included a sweet new, as yet untitled song he wrote for his Mom for Mother’s Day. You can watch the Facebook Livestream video here.
Hopper has crisscrossed the United States in fits and starts, playing on stages and in studios with members from the likes of Portugal. The Man, Brandi Carlile, Builder & Butcher, Dr. John, Everclear, Todd Snider, Gin Blossoms, Young Dubliners, Barenaked Ladies, and many more. His catalog numbers in the hundreds, some published, some not, in a variety of genres to appeal to any audience. His gravelly voice (ofttimes compared to Tom Petty), guitar styling, and sometimes plaintive lyrics draw you to him like a moth to a flame. One minute he’s rocking out, the next subdued in a beautiful ballad. Like his vast music catalog, Matt has so many wonderful stories that an hour isn’t nearly long enough so we will just have to bring him back.
Matt is playing with the full band at Doug Fir Lounge this New Year’s Eve along with Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons. One lucky listener to our show won two tickets to the concert and we’re wishing them a great time. You can find more information about the show here.
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