Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Songs of Zion

Matt Whitney, Plan Be Music

I gotta just tell you the story of how I got to know Matt.

He and I were involved in the LDSmusicians email group, and we also worked together planning the LDS Independent Music Festival a couple of years. For one of those years (or maybe two), we actually put together a band. The first year, we called it a "project" because we knew that if we ever called it a band or gave it a name, it would end up in a horrible breakup with ugly litigation. Because that's how ALL "bands" end, right? So, we were quite adamant about NOT calling it a band.

It had Matt on keys, vocals (incredible vocals), and songwriting, John Newman on horns, songwriting, keys, arranging, and other miscellaneous things that we needed. Morey Day played the drums, and I played bass, guitar, and sang (thought not as well as Matt).

We were a twisted eclectic band. We did everything in a kind of weird way, because we all came from such diverse styles. John was our jazz, I was the rocker, Matt was the showman, and Morey was just along for the ride, playing just about anything we could throw at him. That first year at the fest, we did a few of John's tunes, one of mine, and a couple of Matt's. The hightlight, however, was this fast, funky jazz version of Book of Mormon Stories. We called it, "BookaMo". I can still remember it.

At one point we did actually get a gig in a park and at that point we decided that we had progressed beyond "project" and that we needed a name. One suggestion was "Matthew, Mark, Morey, and John". Another, since John, Morey, and I were all pretty stout, and Matt, being in the military, was in great shape, was to call us "Slim and the Fatboys". We figured that our schtick could have been that we would all argue over who was actually slim.

In the end, because our sound was so eclectic, and because our rehearsals always seemed to degenrate into silliness, we settled on the name, "Random Tangent".

In the end, we did split up. Matt went to Iraq, then to the east coast. John went back to school nights, and we just couldn't keep it together. Fortunately, it wasn't an ugly breakup. We're all still friends, and no one has even mentioned suing anyone.

In the intervening years, we've all progressed in our music in our own way. Matt, in particular, has just put up a website with a couple of tunes on it. He is an amazing writer, an amazing pianist, and an amazing vocalist. The big reason I find him most amazing is that he doesn't sound anything at all like all of the other Mormon pianist/singer/songwriters. His style is more show-y, with a cynical, yet heartfelt edge to his testimony that has been painfully honed by the sharpening stone of reality. When the scriptures talk about the sword that cuts the joints and the marrow, they're talking about his tunes.

Unfortunately, the ones of his that I like the best are not available for free download. But the ones that are there are certainly worth checking out.

C'mon, Matt! What about DC Tonight? :-)

Mark Hansen

1 comment:

  1. Good going. I've been playing music in the parks for years. Was in the military and had a few bands break up becuase of the moves. Keep on playin!

    Sound Doctrine Band
    (just type our name into google)



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