Weekly Artist Spotlight: Matisyahu

When it comes to famous Jewish beatboxers/rappers, it would be impossible to mention anyone before Matisyahu. Notorious for his blending of reggae, hip-hop beatboxing, and rock n’ roll with Orthodox Jewish themes and overtones, Matisyahu is in a musical category of his own.

What makes Matisyahu’s music so engaging and unmatched, is that Matisyahu is a vocalist with no other instrument at his disposal and serves as an integral creative part in the improvisation. Guitarist, Aaron Dugan and keyboardist, Rob Marscher work well beyond the constraints of the “solo” constantly working to modulate the improvisation, while bassist Stu Brook’s pocket is so deep and harmonically smart, that regardless of how far the melodic elements of a jam may get pushed, it’s impossible not to feel rooted to the core of any tune performed. Matisyahu allows his band to breathe within each tune, finding his place with a wordless melody that serves to enhance the harmonic elements of an improvisation, developing the rhythmic ideas with his beatboxing, or crowning a jam with a full-on lyrical call-to-the-heavens and the great unknown. It’s that cathartic moment as a jam summits and the audience lets out its release that tells the performers we are all in it together. During the band’s tours, videos and audio posts of these moments inspired a steady stream of comments and inquiries asking, “What album is this song on?” It’s not on any album. It is the song of that moment and that moment only.

Matisyahu’s live show clearly draws influence from the jam band community and style of shows. In a recent Live 4 Live Music article, Matisyahu opened up about seeing his first Phish show when he was only 16 years old and trying LSD for the first time at the concert. Matisyahu credits this as a life-changing moment that influenced his whole view on the power of live music.

In 2005, Matisyahu got to take the stage with Phish’s own Trey Anastasio at Bonnaroo, during the band’s hiatus.

Additionally, in the past 2 years, Matisyahu has made appearances with both The Disco Biscuits and Twiddle at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, which also happens to be his home turf.

Appropriately enough, Matisyahu will be returning to NYC on December 28th for a late night Phish after-party at Irving Plaza. Tickets and more info can be found here!

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