He’s already opened for the likes of Steve Miller, the Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton and Foreigner, but 19-year-old guitar wunderkind Matthew Curry hasn’t let such early successes get to his head. Based out of Bloomington, IL, he’s a talented musician with an ear for classic rock, but he puts his own modern spin on it with hard-edged rhythms, slick guitar riffs, and a voice that belies his age. It’s no wonder that musicians and critics alike keep comparing Curry to Stevie Ray Vaughan. That may be one of the reasons why Curry pairs so perfectly with the classic rock masters. He’s got an arsenal of original and impressive songs that pay homage to classic rock all while adding a fresh, blues-influenced spin. Curry will be playing in Urbana at the Canopy Club, and he kindly took some time to speak with me about life on the road with the big guns, and what he’s planning for his Urbana show.
SP: You’re only nineteen but you’re already a proficient and talent guitarist. How did you get started?
Matthew Curry: I’ve been playing since I was four. I kind of learned the basic stuff from my dad. When I was five or six, I started taking lessons for a while. But I kind of got bored with it, and started teaching myself stuff.
SP: What influences your particular sound?
Curry: Well, definitely blues. That was kind of my first love. Also classic rock. Some older country. I’m not a big fan of the newer stuff, but I like some of the older country songs.
SP: How did you end up opening for Steve Miller?
Curry: Our agency hooked that up, Paradigm. Steve’s also with Paradigm. [chuckles] Well, I guess I should say, I’m also with Paradigm. I think Steve’s people heard about us through Foreigner’s people, though. It was a really good fit. He’s a very nice guy and so is everybody on the crew. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
SP: What was the best single experience to come out of opening for Miller?
Curry: I developed a little bit of a friendship with Steve. Steve stayed in touch and he’s an incredible guy with great advice. He told me, “Well, if you get some new tunes, send them to me and I’ll give you my thoughts on them.” He’s a really down to earth guy. For him to be so nice and down to earth was really cool.
SP: Who would you love to tour with one day?
Curry: I’d like to go back out with Steve, the Doobies, or Frampton again. It’s tough to stay. Playing with Tedeschi Trucks Band or John Mayer would be pretty fun. I always thought it would be cool to tour with Eric Clapton, but he’s probably not going out much anymore.
SP: You’re well known not only for your guitar playing, but also your songwriting. How do you write your songs?
Curry: Well it just depends. Sometimes from personal past experiences and sometimes just from hearing a melody in my head and kind of wanting to write a story around that. Sometimes it has nothing to do with anything that’s ever even happened to me.
SP: Have you encountered any issues or negativity about being so good, so young?
Curry: Not really. I think that might be a reason why those guys [Steve Miller, etc.] are so nice, because they can kind of relate to me. You know, being young and doing my own thing. They did the same thing at my age, traveling in a van and driving for twelve hours. [Pauses] I did have trouble getting into bars to play when I was younger [Laughs].
SP: What can Champaign-Urbana audiences expect to hear at your upcoming show?
Curry: New tunes. We’ll be playing some brand new songs that we haven’t even recorded yet. It’ll be kind of fun to bring them out. I’ve been wanting to get in the studio and start recording, but the summer was so busy. That’ll be in the works soon. It’ll also be a little bit of a new show, because we’ll include an acoustic thing.
SP: How much do live shows feed into what you’ll eventually record in the studio?
Curry: One cool thing about being able to do some of the tunes before you record them is that you get a sense of what the audience is feeling from them. If they’re not feeling it then maybe I can rethink that tune.
Catch Matthew Curry at the Canopy Club this Saturday with Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers. Tickets $10 advance, $13 door.