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Bluesfest Review: Matt Andersen and The Mellotones

By Terry Steeves on July 11, 2014

Imagine if you will, a booming soulful voice somewhere between that of Joe Cocker and the warm tone of Jeff Healey. And then try to imagine that voice being backed up by a 9-piece band of amazing proportions, complete with a full horn section, and some great vocal harmonies.

Matt Andersen’s songs are soulful tales of the hard working blue collar life growing up in the small town of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick. He combines his musical influences of blues, soul, and folk to create a passionate vibe to his lyrics. The moment he struck the first chord on his acoustic guitar and sang the first note, he had me hook, line, and sinker.

Every so often, he’d throw back his head, tossing that long curly mane, eyes closed, getting lost in the zone of his own music. That’s when he opens the door to let you into his world, and one can’t help but become affected by the raw emotion of his voice and his music. His performance of “Coal Mining Blues” (Coal Mining Blues – 2011), a song written in ode to the harsh labour of the trade, nearly brought me to my knees.


Brad Conrad of The Mellotones.

Brad Conrad of The Mellotones.

The Mellotones are a fabulous 9-piece band from Halifax, N.S. featuring a dynamic 4-piece horn section, delivering a variety of classic Motown, R&B, rock, disco, and funk favorites. A band with an enormous following, with regular weekly appearances at the Sea Horse Tavern in Halifax, The ’Tones have also toured with and backed up many ECMA and Juno award winning artists.

They joined forces with Matt Andersen during this leg of summer festival dates across Canada, in support of his newest CD, Weightless (2014). Today’s show was only their fourth gig as a unit, but the tightness in their sound seemed as if they’d been playing for years together. I especially enjoyed the energetic vibe of The Band classic, “Ophelia”, highlighting each and every member of the horn section. I especially loved the bluesy nastiness of “The Devil’s Bride”, in which Andersen called for “a nice, greasy trombone solo”. The show ended with a commanding performance of “With A Little Help From My Friends”, which thrilled the attentive crowd enormously.

I rate Matt Andersen and The Mellotones definitely one of the best acts in the Bluesfest line-up this year.