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Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Anchorage, Alaska, United States
Band Pop Avant-garde


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The best kept secret in music


"Milo Matthews take root IN Alaska"

Milo Matthews
Wandering bass player takes root in Alaska, sets up studio, records debut CD, tours state
When Milo Matthews toured Alaska with the Danny Godinez Band, he fell in love with the state. After tying loose ends, Matthews packed his bass and moved to South Anchorage, ready to blend into the artful music scene. He’d grown weary of a lifetime in competitive scenes like Seattle, Chicago and Boston subways and performers climbing over each other to reach the top. Alaska, on the other hand, offered a strong music environment and a beautiful place to call home, he said.
“Alaska is a refreshing place. People here are genuinely having fun doing their music.”
Emphasis on fun and space. After years spent performing other people’s music, Matthews now focuses on his own. Even better, working more on his own music has enhanced his ability to play with others, he said.
With a style grounded in funk, Matthews can hold his own in a solo improv show or lay down great roots to support other players.
“Milo is one of the most funky bassists I have ever played with,” Danny Godinez touted. “He has a great sense of rhythm, and his one-man show is exceptional. I like to play with him any chance I get.”
Recently, Matthews partnered with local folk musician Shawn Zuke to form Earthshine, a duo that blend funk and folk. During live shows various artists join Matthews and Zuke, and they are always searching for other musicians to round out the sound.
Throughout July, Earthshine travels Alaska with Todd Johnson and John Ferrar of the band Salem. Eventually, Matthews hopes Earthshine will carve a niche as a multi-media act, incorporating film, imagery and dance. The duo is also writing and producing their self-titled debut CD.
But one project never seems enough. Matthews is also recording his long-awaited solo album, “Miles of Eva.” While he has released several small home productions available on, “Miles of Eva” will be his first official CD. The album bears the same name as an instrumental love song for his two children, Miles and Eva, and focuses on his bass, vocals and a few other instruments such as drums.
While working on both CDs, Matthews enjoys flexing his producer skills. Years as a musician providing the backbone for songs has given him the ability to focus on many parts at once, he said. That skill has spawned Love Life Music Productions, his modest, at-home Pro Tools studio. One of his clients is Girdwood’s Melissa Mitchell.
But Matthews’ first and greatest love is the bass. His father, a bass player, engendered a love for music in him. But nothing took hold until age 13 when Matthews first heard Canadian band Rush, with Geddy Lee on bass, keyboards and vocals. The teenager picked up his father’s instrument and was playing for crowds within a year.
Eventually, Matthews wandered to Boston where he busked in the subways for more than a decade. In 2003, he met Rob Wilson, a film student from Beantown’s Emerson College. Their friendship led to a film documentary on Matthews, “Milo aka: Street Musician Documentary.” Still seeking distribution, the film focuses on his life and history and the consequences of the ban on subway amplification.
With no worries about bans for his local gigs, Matthews freely generates an original sound. Meanwhile, the seeds of growing relationships planted with other Alaska artists continue to blossom into a collective musical family.

EARTHSHINE performs Friday, July 1, at the Sunrise Inn in Cooper Landing, 907-595-1222; July 3 at the Forest Fair and Maxines in Girdwood; July 5 at the Organic Oasis in Anchorage, 907-277-7882; July 6 at Vagabond Blues in Palmer, 907-745-2233; July 7 at Live After 5 in downtown Anchorage; July 8-9 at the Denali Salmon Bake in Denali National Park, 907-683-2733; July 10 at the Talkeetna Moose Droppings Festival and July 18-20 and 25-27 at the Long Branch Saloon in Anchorage, 907-349-4142.

- AK This Month

"From Street to Stage"

Web posted September 1, 2005

From street to stage
Bass player Milo Matthews returns to Juneau as a solo act


Courtesy of Todd Anders Johnson
Milo returns: Milo Matthews plays the bass during a summer tour of Alaska earlier this year. Matthews will play Friday and Saturday, Sept. 2-3, at the Hangar on the Wharf.

For many years, bass player Milo Matthews didn't play the music of the streets. Instead, he played songs under the streets as a performing busker, or street musician, based in Boston. Before the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority banned amplification systems, electric pianos and horns for street musicians in December 2003, Matthews would take his bass, a small amplifier and some computerized sound loops down into the subway tunnels and play for the commuters.

This weekend, Juneau music fans will be treated to two solo shows by Matthews, starting about 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Hangar on the Wharf. Matthews, who is making his fourth trip to Juneau, also will play a brief pre-open mic show at about 4-5 p.m. tonight at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar. He is scheduled to play on Sunday at the Pioneer in Haines, and he might play another show to be announced in Juneau on Monday before he heads home to Anchorage.

"I just hope this is going to be the start of a constant visit to Southeast, where I play more as a soloist," Matthews said during a phone interview last weekend.

Matthews said his Juneau shows will feature solo bass, some recorded looping patterns and vocals. He'll play some funk, jazz, R&B, some 1970s covers (such as Steely Dan) and even some folk.

"Since he's been up here so much, he's already developed a following," said Rob Sanford, the Hangar on the Wharf manager. "He has a good energy and he draws a good crowd. Everyone has a good time. He's just a talented guy who can play a lot of different styles."

Matthews came to Juneau in 2003 and 2004 with the Seattle-based Danny Godinez Band, a jazz and pop band led by the guitarist of the same name. Earlier this summer Matthews returned to town with Salem, which is fronted by former Danny Godinez Band drummer and singer Todd Anders Johnson.

"I fell in love with the state," said Matthews, who moved to Anchorage about 11ڲ years ago. Matthews met his fiance, guitaristڦlute player Shawn Zuke, in Anchorage, and together they formed the band Earthshine.

Matthews grew up around music, and his father taught and played guitar and bass in Boston. But it wasn't until he was 13 years old that Matthews found his calling. That was when he first heard the Canadian rock band Rush and bass player Geddy Lee, who also plays keyboard and sings for the band. Matthews borrowed his father's bass and within a year he was performing with it.

Over the years, Matthews said he discovered noted bass players such as the late jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius (who played with Weather Report, Pat Metheny and Joni Mitchell) and Victor Wooten (a founder of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones). But he said his music is just as influenced by Seal, Prince and Kate Bush.

"The older I get the more stuff influences me," Matthews said. "I swore I'd never like country, but there are some songs creeping in. I'd like to learn bluegrass. I'm doing an upright (bass) and trying to incorporate it in."

An Emerson College student movie director, Rob Wilson, followed Matthews for a year about the time the MBTA was banning amplified music for "safety" reasons. Last year, Wilson produced an award-winning documentary film called, "Milo aka: Street Musician Documentary," which is being shopped around to distributors. Wilson even followed Matthews to Seattle to watch him work with the Danny Godinez Band.

"Busking has really changed, and now everyone wants a piece of the pie," Matthews said. "Now (local government officials) realize you can make some money busking."

Matthews will release a solo album, "Miles of Eva," in the near future and Earthshine has an untitled debut album coming out soon. Matthews said he's developing a Web site for his and Zuke's music. Until the site is up, people can find his solo album at http:ښ by searching for "milomusic".

- Juneau Empire

"Milo AkA: Street Musician"

Milo aka: Street Musician Documentary (2004)
Wanderweg Productions
Status: Post-Production
Director and Producer: Rob Wilson
Writer: Rob Wilson/Milo Matthews
Starring: Milo Matthews
Locations: MBTA subways, Seattle, Boston
Plot: A moving documentary that questions the drives we have to follow our heart around the time of the recent MBTA ban on subway amplification. Milo Matthews, a talented bassist and real subway musician, opens his life and his history to the audience with charisma and talent.
Genre: Documentary
Distributor: seeking
(updated 1/12/04)

- New England Films

"Midnight train to Silence"

Midnight train to silence: Boston hushes its subway musicians
By Seth Stern | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Deep Below Harvard Square, beyond rattling turnstiles and the vendors hawking popcorn and roasted nuts, Gary Innocent strums a guitar while softly singing French ballads. His audiences come and go - and come and go - as rumbling red subway trains punctuate his songs.

Mr. Innocent is one of hundreds of subway musicians who are as much a fixture on Boston's underground platforms as the rats who skitter along the tracks and the commuters tugging on hats and gloves as they swarm out of trains.

But next week, much of the crooning will cease, and the only subterranean music may be the subways' screeching wheels and the chimes that warn of train doors sliding shut. Starting Dec. 1, subway musicians will no longer be allowed to plug their instruments into electronic amplifiers or play electric keyboards, saxophones, and other horns.

Transit officials say it's a matter of safety - that loud music can drown out messages warbled over public-address speakers. But musicians and their fans say the regulations could dry up the income artists collect, a dollar at a time, and silence songs that make commuting bearable - or at least distract passengers from the strain and stench of subway life.

The rules are sure to transform Boston's true underground music scene, which up to this point has been one of the nation's least regulated. In New York and Atlanta, musicians must audition and sign up for slots; Toronto singers pay a $114 fee; in London, musicians need licenses to croon to commuters "minding the gap." And in Washington, D.C., they're banned altogether: The only songs in travelers' heads are those they're singing to themselves. For Boston musicians, these free-wheeling subway stages were a last foothold of melodic latitude - theirs for a song.

Or almost. Playing Harvard Square's "T" station requires a permit, renewable every three months - and a little loose change. Musicians flip a coin each morning to decide who performs on the most coveted stage: the platform where travelers wait on their way downtown.

The coin-flip winner may be a local music-college student, a blind veteran, or a self-taught guitarist who doubles as a short-order cook. Pop star Tracy Chapman sang underground here while a student at Tufts.

For many commuters, as well as musicians, the rules are a cacophonous shock. Haitian peasant songs, banjo bluegrass, and Joni Mitchell ballads "make the commute much more enjoyable," says Dawn Aberg, a student in Cambridge. "Some of the most exciting music being done comes up from the bottom."

The Subway Performers Program Policy mandates more than unplugged amplifiers: Musicians must pay $25 for a yearly permit, wear "proper clothing," and display photo-ID badges at all times.

"You can't help but think [the rationale] is a pretense," says Mac Craven in the Park Street station under Boston Common. "The [MBTA] messages are garbled anyway."

Alisha Lomasney, leaning against a red steel pole with headphones pulled down around her neck, worries that without amplifiers, trains will drown out the songs: "Taking away speakers takes away the whole point,"

John Ellis, crooning The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" nearby, agrees. "I'm going to feel pretty silly with an acoustic guitar, screaming over the trains," he says. Like Mr. Craven, he's skeptical of the rationale. "They are trying to weed out the undesirables," he says of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) - to clean up the city before the Democratic National Convention lands in Boston next summer.

It was not ever thus. Gov. Mike Dukakis. who rode the "T" to work, found money in the state budget to pay subway musicians - and coax members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra into performing underground, too.

But the era of government funding is gone; these days, musicians rely on tips and CD sales. On a good day, Lisa Housman and Dave Falk can earn as much as $150 singing folk music. They've been playing subways for three years since graduating from Oberlin College and Cornell - and even chose their apartment based on its proximity to Cambridge's Porter Square T stop.

They say their income - which can be more than $150 daily - will fall precipitously under the new rules. "It can be depressing down there," says Ms. Housman. "We make it more peaceful and add a unity to the crowd. People even sing along."

"It's devastating," says Stephen Baird, head of the Street Artists' Guild. And the decision couldn't have come at a worse time, he says: Subway riders are most generous in December. His group has asked the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge the rules on First Amendment grounds, and is circulating petitions.

So far, the MBTA remains unsympathetic. "A subway station is a transit center first; a concert venue is probably last on the list," says spokesman Joe Pesaturo. The rules are among 200 safety changes recommended by a task force appointed after Sept. 11, he says.

Come December, Mr. Innocent will return with his amp - no matter the consequences. "I think it's nonsense," says Innocent, who studied music in his native Paris before enrolling at the Berklee College of Music here. "You can't work without that tool. It's like being a cop without a gun." Today, he takes the afternoon shift on the city-bound platform at Harvard. Though fewer riders crowd his stage, Mr. Innocent and others actually prefer this slot. And down here, the bright light of noon, the chill of dusk, and the dark of midnight are the same. He plugs in his microphone and amp and lines up CDs before starting to sing.

A few commuters clap or drop dollars into his amplifier case as they board the next train. Then, as Innocent sings "Let's Fall in Love," the doors slide shut, the wheels rumble on, and his audience - for now - rolls away.

• Sara B. Miller contributed to this report from Boston.

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- Christian Science Monitor


Melting point---1985
Plain and Simple---1989
Milo (debut)----2000
Inbound Boomerang---2003
Miles of Eva-----Coming Soon


Feeling a bit camera shy


My Dad was a professional musician for most of his young adulthood. He tried Everything to get me to play something, but the spark never ignited, until that fatefull day I heard the band "Rush." I ran home and told my dad I wanted to play bass, which my dad's instrument of choice until he switched to guitar later on in his career.
I learned every single song they had, but the funny thing was that I was raised on R&B and definitely on the side of disco back in the music wars. After a few Rush cover bands and sorry attemps to start one of my own, I started to travel. After discovering I was a Gypsy, having numuerus adventures abroad, I returned to my home of Boston, Mass. There I was introduced to the subway and street busking music scene. I first went down there with a acoustic guitar thinking "what could I possibly do with just a bass and nothing else?" Then a friend gave me a delay pedal, and like the day of discovering Rush, I discovered my own voice: My own style of playing the bass. After learning how to use the delay pedal, I developed a kind of Pink Floyd sound with a New Age twist. I was a busker in the subways of Boston on and off for twenty years. I spent my early twenties in musical bliss.
the Gypsy in me was flaring up so I traveled around the US until I arrived in Seattle, WA, where I sharpened my skills, and where for the first time, I played with bands writting orignal music. Then it happened. Yes, big rays of light started flying all over the place, and there in the music store I found MY next level of Music---The Boomerrang. Since then, nothing has been the same. My playing has elevated ten fold. I went on to do more traveling, and to be in more bands, and now what has become of me??? I now live in Alaska which is the my home base I come back to inbetween my travels abroad.
A documentary has been made about me being a subway musician. I if you would like to know more about me or hear more samples of my music, go to