The Matt Burke Band has been developing and refining the sound they dub “Soulcoustic Beach Rock” for nearly a decade with impressive results. Inspired by multiple genres of music, the distinct sounds of southern rock, reggae, funk, and blues are methodically woven throughout the band’s original music.
Singer/songwriter and guitarist Matt Burke and lead guitarist Brue Baker, the rootsy and eclectic musical forces behind the emerging Matt Burke Band, live hundreds of miles apart—Burke in Chicago, Baker in Florida, where the two first started playing a handful of years ago as college students at Stetson University. Late in the summer of 2010, the group released their debut album with the tongue in cheek title ‘Pretty Close To Very Good,’ to nothing but positive critical acclaim.
In addition to headlining shows at The Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville (where the group held their debut CD release party to a packed house), The Bottom Lounge, and Goose Island in The Windy City, the band has brightened up The Sunshine State even more with a self-booked tour up and down the coasts, from Jacksonville, to New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa Beach and Jupiter. Logistical issues dictate that the lineup can be anything from Burke playing solo to a hard driving five-piece rock ensemble. Regardless of the lineup, the original music comes through in every sense for crowds of all ages across the country.
The steel pan-tinged, feel good vibe and opener of the ten track collection, “The Weekend War”, sets the ultimately optimistic musical and lyrical tone that’s completely in line with Burke’s free-wheeling musical philosophy: “I love music. I have a passion for what I do, and I try with every note I play and word I sing to convey that passion.” Lyrically that song also captures the theme of many of his songs, which speak honestly and autobiographically about the angst of having a 9 to 5 office day job while pouring out the musical energy at night. Pretty Close To Very Good has the feel of a singer-songwriter being backed by a solid rock band with some cool and unexpected musical textures like the pans, Moog synth and Spanish guitar. Baker’s leads aren’t over the top or flashy, instead serving as additional harmony or coloring to the songs. Burke’s goal was to write songs that make people feel joyful and have lyrical content everyone can relate to.
Any artistic person who ever went the “straight route” while pursuing their dream will connect with Burke, who went to grad school at Michigan State and earned his master’s in Behavioral Neuroscience before leaving the Ph.D. program to pursue his musical career in Chicago. The rollicking “White Collar Blues” is a spirited lament about working a good but ultimately unfulfilling job to support those creative endeavors. Besides addressing such existential crises in the present, Pretty Close To Very Good includes some rich reflective pieces like “School,” a grooving acoustic tune about sitting behind a beautiful girl in school he didn’t have the nerve to talk to; and “Fading Faces,” about the quick and unexpected turnover of people who pass through our lives.
While adding more gigs to their Chicagoland and Florida schedule, Burke and Baker are currently in the process of writing material for their sophomore effort, which is expected to be released in spring of 2012. “I’d like to show people that music is something I need to do, that no matter the challenges, there is no other option for me in my life,” Burke says. “The way I see the world, there are so many people content to just live unhappy unfulfilled existences. The joy and success I have is something I hope will be an example for people who wonder if it’s worth taking a chance to have a more fulfilling life.”