Hometown

Lockhart Songwriter Series features Matthew Wise

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Special to the LPR

Lockhart’s Evenings with the Songwriter, the monthly series of the historic Dr. Eugene Clark Library, welcomes Matthew Wise as featured guest on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. The acclaimed series now in its eleventh season is free to the public, hosted and produced by veteran Lockhart songwriter Fletcher Clark.

Growing up in a musical family in Victoria, Texas, Matthew Wise was molded to become a “collector of songs.” At six years old, he began playing the piano by ear with his paternal grandmother who loved ragtime and big band music. His father had played guitar and bass as a teenager, so Matthew grew up surrounded with music from the 50s, 60s and early 70s. Singing in church and community choirs brought him a deep appreciation for sacred and classical music. As a teenager Matthew developed a love of the lyrical and stylistic styles of 90s country music which led him to explore some of the outlaw and folk music of the 60s and 70s.

By the time he arrived for college at Texas A&M, Wise was ready to soak up the songwriting of fellow Aggies Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. Upon graduating with a degree in English, Wise became the Director of Youth Ministries at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in San Antonio, the congregation that four years later sent him to seminary where he earned his Masters of Divinity from The School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South. Since his ordination to the priesthood in 2008, Wise has served three communities, and has been Associate Rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal in San Antonio since 2016.

Concurrently some thirteen years ago, Wise’s return to the styles and storytelling in folk and Texas Country/red-dirt music led him to form and front the Americana band ‘Down for the Count.’ It wasn’t long before he began creating a growing repertoire of his own songs. He will soon be releasing his first album ‘We Ain’t Finished Yet,’ with songs about rites of passage — leaving one’s hometown, lost loves, the joys and challenges of long-term relationship/marriage, children, and parenting.

“When I first heard Matthew with Down for the Count,” Fletcher said, “I was immediately taken by his voice and his presence. Then when I later heard a solo gig where he did just his own songs, I knew I would do whatever it took to introduce him to the wider world of Texas songwriters. I brought him out to the Kerrville Folk Festival for a day to enjoy first-hand the song circles in that great incubator for songwriters. Then I spent many hours with him recording preliminary tracks and some sketch recordings before turning over his album project to the quite capable hands of veteran producer Lloyd Maines.”

Celebrated past guests of Evenings with the Songwriter have included Tish Hinojosa, Shake Russell, Don Sanders (RIP), Vince Bell, Susan Gibson, Butch Hancock, Christine Albert, Eric Taylor (RIP), Dana Cooper, Sarah Hickman, Ken Gaines, Shelley King, Rex Foster (RIP), Walt Wilkins, Bianca DeLeon, Michael Hearne, local favorites Stoney Gabel and Talia Bryce, and scores more. The 2023 season will continue with Eric Gerber, Mark Jungers, and concluding in November with HalleyAnna Finlay.

The songwriter series is sponsored and supported by Old Settlers Music Festival and LockhartArea Music Association.

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