Track Premiere: Matthew Check “The Very Beginning”

Photo: Natia Cinco

Matthew Check has been producing a lot of music over the last couple of years, and he has another album ‘Without a Throne‘ coming out on the 30th of September.  He’s had quite the varied career – starting off by moving from Newtown to New York City initially to take graduate classes at the Jewish Theological Seminary. But he spent much of his time playing bluegrass banjo in jams downtown. Eventually, he would combine his love of bluegrass and Judaism into something he dubbed “jewgrass”—which yielded an album colorfully entitled ‘The Bluegrass Kabbalat Shabbat Experience.’ He was also the first banjo player for Gangstagrass and played on the 2010 Emmy Nominated Song ‘Long Hard Times to come.’  Next up was a duo Joanie and Matt with Grammy-winning Joanie Leeds producing folk/rock and that led to a solo stint, where he (currently) remains.

Matthew Check told Americana UK the background to the song: “I began writing ‘The Very Beginning’ on a friend’s piano in Hawthorne, Los Angeles while visiting the city for a wedding last summer. At the time, I had just broken up with my girlfriend after spending a long weekend with her in Las Vegas, (the first time we had seen each other in two months because I had been traveling in Arizona, Utah, Alaska and finally California before flying home to New York).  I was in LA right after we broke up and it was the first time I had sat in front of a piano in months. 

A melody quickly emerged along with lyrics about finding a way to start things over (hence the chorus of the song). I had totally forgotten about ‘The Very Beginning’ for the better part of five months until I began to assemble a collection of songs that I wanted to record for what would become ‘Without A Throne.’   I challenged myself to finish ‘The Very Beginning’ and it is one of the two brand-new songs on the album.   There is a great coda for me to this song’s composition: I finished writing it on a lonely piano housed in the sanctuary of a synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (where I worked this past season). I loved the piano so much that I inquired if I could have it since no one used it. The answer was yes! So now, in my apartment in South Brooklyn, I have the 1950s Baldwin Spinnett on which I finished composing ‘The Very Beginning.’ I also patched things up with my girlfriend too.


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About Jonathan Aird 1983 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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