Matt "The Mole" Schwarz - guitars, flute, harp, and vocals

Matt was born at a very young age, abandoned in the woods, and raised by wild moles. This, along with a tendency to squint and the fact that he's round, hairy, and can close his lips BEHIND his teeth, has earned him the nickname "The Mole". He was rescued from this subterranean life by a kindly couple named Schwarz, who have ever since treated him as if he were their own. His human parents did not give him an early exposure to the swingin' rock'n'roll of their youth, but instead he remembers the likes of Glenn Miller (on 8-track!), Scott Joplin, etc. as his early musical introduction, which didn't seem to have much of a later impact on his tastes, as well as some opera and classical, which struck more of a chord with our future guitar hero - indeed, his mother claims he would "conduct" the orchestra from his chair as a baby. Although he was given children's toy-type instruments as a young laddie, his somewhat violent youthful interactions with his older brother resulted in the instruments' destruction. Who knows, maybe this was just an early indication of his later Heavy Metal direction and an infantile attempt to imitate such classics as The Who? One of his earliest appreciations of the arts was centered upon literature. He was an avid reader from early on - indeed in 5th grade his teacher borrowed a book she saw him reading, which was on the bestseller lists (Mary Stewart's Arthurian novel "The Wicked Day"). Matt was especially enamored of the fantasy works of Englishmen J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, and the like. This may have planted the seed in his mind which grew into a general appreciation of the culture of past and present Britain (and to a lesser degree Europe)- which currently encompasses the folklore, history, literature, television, and especially the music of the British Isles. In fourth and fifth grade our budding musician studied the saxophone and bass-clarinet - the latter, because he "thought it looked cool". (Obviously we had a discerning genius on our hands.) Not only was he able to elicit the usual musical notes from these reed instruments, but the budding Hendrix-of-the-sax was also able to achieve many feedback-like sounds from a register higher than normally used on these instruments - while playing melody! Sadly, his prodigal abilities were under-appreciated, and when he decided not to continue his musical studies in middle school (because he was not interested in compromising his other studies for music lessons), no-one objected. However, his decision to focus on academic matters did have a side effect that benefited his music - his father bought him his first album as a reward for getting good grades: Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on cassette. Not really very indicative of anything special, I'm afraid - pretty much everyone was buying it at the time, although the title song and video might've given him a gentle push towards Metal! His tastes in music at that time were pretty much undeveloped - he hardly knew who sang what, until he started buying his own music, and listened to the general pop music of the early to mid 80's some of which (like Duran Duran and Adam Ant) he still remembers as being a little better than the rest. (Maybe Matt merely makes much 'membrance of the alliterative names.) Significant were a few metal bands of the day that would have a more lasting impact. The Scorpions, Def Leppard, and Quiet Riot were all big around '83 when Matt first hit the cassette racks, and made their way into his collection. A more subtle influence were the dance pop band Men Without Hats. Although their radio hits were pretty much light-weight pop fluff, Matt found deep enjoyment from their "Folk of the 80's" and "Pop Goes the World" albums. Aside from the pop element, Men Without Hats had an artsy tendency that later Matt was to find fully realized in progressive rock - as he puts it, "Although pop music, they are more reminiscent of early Genesis than Genesis themselves were in the 80's!" Indeed, the band even had Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson guest on flute on one track. It was in high school, though, that Matt truly found himself musically. Def Leppard was his favorite band by the end of middle-school (succeeding light rockers Huey Lewis & the News), and then he heard Iron Maiden. A classmate had brought "Powerslave" in for music class in 8th grade, and Matt had been the only other who'd appreciated it. Then, at the shore over the summer, his older brother's friend had played "Ryme of the Ancient Mariner" from the "Live After Death" album, and Matt was hooked. It was more magical, more powerful, and richer than anything he'd ever heard before (except maybe some classical, but he didn't give classical the same chance he did rock music yet at that time). He picked up all their studio albums (previously he had tended to collect multiple albums if he liked a band, but in high school he began to collect all of a bands albums if he liked them - a tendency he still adheres to - "I find if a band has something special about them, they tend to carry it with them throughout their days. I often appreciate their less known stuff, and indeed find many gems in the less popular albums. Sometimes it's how they develop their special sound through varying times and styles, sometimes it's just that it's their least interesting stuff that is best known!"). To this day, he has yet to find anything to top Iron Maiden musically - "there are a few that have reached their level in my estimation: Jethro Tull, Beethoven, even Fairport Convention when I'm in the right mood. But I have yet to find anything better!" (UPDATE - since this was written, Matt would like to acknowledge the fantastic metal scene that was hidden from public view for the 90's "I never knew people were still making good music - all you heard was boring dreary stuff, but I've discovered bands like Blind Guardian who have followed in Iron Maiden's footsteps of high energy, musically rich, uplifting metal. I actually now believe that 1998-2000 or so was the high point of heavy metal music with albums like Bruce Dickinson's "Chemical Wedding", Blind Guardian's "Nightfall on Middle Earth", Iced Earth's "Horror Show", Dream Theater's "Scenes From A Memory", and Symphony X's "V", which are every bit as good as the best metal from the previous 30 years - and the mainstream scene didn't even acknowledge this stuff existed at the time!END OF UPDATE) It was at this time (high school) that he remembers consciously directing his tastes towards Heavy Metal - aside from the previous bands, he also discovered Aerosmith, Twisted Sister, Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, White Lion, Van Halen, Guns'n'Roses, etc. It was the days of glam- and light-metal, although Matt didn't really separate it from the "real" metal like Iron Maiden and the Scorpions. "It was OK for the time, a lot of the glam stuff - in fact, I'd still take it over a lot of the dreary and monotonous music that was the mainstream rock of the '90's! I never really understood the big hair and make-up, even at the time, but musically most of it was rock'n'roll - exciting and melodic, if sometimes shallow or tasteless. I avoided anything I thought to be Satanic, though - I'm not heavily Christian, but I've always had too much respect for religion to want anything to do with Satanism, or care for anyone who plays with it. The lighter stuff - Ratt, Van Halen, etc., I haven't really listened to much since high school, but the more metal or rootsy stuff I still quite like - Scorpions, early Def Leppard, and of course Iron Maiden. Whitesnake's earlier stuff I appreciate more now, with my greater familiarity with 70's rock, and Zeppelin I definitely never completely got until I got into folk music." Mid-way through high school, he had another great discovery - Jethro Tull: "I have no idea why, but listening to all these guitar-based metal bands, I had the conception of mixing a flute with it. Now I understand music more, I think it may have something to do with the fact that a guitar is basically a tenor instrument - even your highest wailing guitar solo is only in the mid register of the flute, so a clear soprano instrument like the flute would go well with the lower, distorted range of guitar. At the time I don't know what I was thinking, not knowing a damn thing about the details of music performance and composition. What I do know is that I saw this review of a Tull greatest-hits compilation, and they mentioned that there was flute in it and they'd just won a metal Grammy! This I had to hear." Not being one for greatest hits, he picked up a random CD (by this time he'd gone Digital, having been frustrated by tapes getting eaten by the player, and preferring the clearer CD format for his recent listening taste - which often had different instruments doing different interesting things, unlike much pop). Luckily for him, it was one of Tull's harder rocking efforts, "Minstrel in the Gallery". As it was, he was perplexed by this strange music, but it grew on him, and he picked up their other albums in the ensuing months. Tull affected him strongly, like no other band except Maiden - here was a music of incredible sophistication and richness and it drew him in completely. It also paved his way for his post-metal forays into music, which came a few years later. Around this time, Matt started to reflect his musical taste in other ways than his CD purchases. "It was in high school that I began to develop my current identity. I started to grow my hair out Freshman year - I think originally because I broke my elbow badly in gym class, and while recuperating just never bothered to get it cut. I started to identify with these long-haired rockers whose music I was listening to - it was powerful and dark and I felt an affinity for it. I didn't really hang out with other rockers, I was mostly an honors student and most of my classmates were these clean-cut preppy types who listened to stuff like Depeche Mode, REM, and (later) rap. I got along fine with these kids; I really liked many of them, but I felt I was different. I didn't really hang out with them outside of school, mostly I hung out with my cousin Walter, with whom I'd play Dungeons & Dragons and computer games like Ultima that were similar to D&D, usually while listening to Aerosmith and Tull. I wasn't really the athletic type, and didn't do any school sports or extracurricular activities, but Walter and I would make up our own sports. One of our favorites was Badball, a combination of volleyball and badminton. We'd hit the volleyball with tennis rackets - we learned to get it off the rebound, after a few broken rackets and some serious arm pain. It was a very loud sport, and in a pre-Calvinball practice of constantly making up new rules, we'd do things like grunt when we hit the ball or only jump in the air to hit the ball, even when swinging low. I also started weightlifting and, later, running in high school to offset my general tendency to be fat and round like a mole. "A crucial time in my life was when my parents were great enough to send me to Australia as an exchange student. The family I lived with, the Krosts, were actually German immigrants. They were great people and I think very fondly of them to this day. Significantly, their son Arne was also a bit of a rocker. He didn't have long hair, but his favorite band was AC/DC and he played guitar. I remember having previously decided I wanted to play guitar and maybe flute. I'd actually put a lot of thought into what would seem to be an obvious decision to take up guitar: 'well, it's very versatile - you can play lead, rhythm, metal, folk, classical, sing and play or play solo.' Who was I trying to persuade? I mean, was I trying to outweigh the obvious lure of playing heavy metal accordion? Listening to Iron Maiden had really inspired me to want to PLAY music, and not just listen, but it was Arne who actually put a guitar in my hands and taught me some chords. He gave me a rhythm guitar book when I left, that taught me chords and blues scales and stuff, and is the bulk of my formal instrument training (I don't remember much of what I learned in elementary school). Also, Mr. Krost's record collection was a window into the world of classic rock I'd only pecked on with stuff like Zeppelin and Aerosmith. I first listened to stuff there (Deep Purple, Yes, Wishbone Ash, UFO) that I've been getting into in the years since high school. "When I returned to America, my musician friend Todd Lanka (a staple of the NJ local music scene since the late 80's, I've seen the very talented Lanka playing bass for various blues, jazz, and rock outfits - sometimes when I was going to see him, but often I didn't even know he was playing with them) helped me pick out my first guitar. He suggested a Fender Stratocaster, as a versatile instrument. I don't know if I realized or not at the time that it was the main guitar of Iron Maiden, but I got one (a cheap import version) and have been happy with the decision since. I picked up a Tull piano-vocal songbook, with guitar chords, figuring I could also try it out on the family's little electronic keyboard (which I did, clunking away at Aqualung). I soon added to my repertoire a brilliant find - a songbook for the first 4 Iron Maiden albums. This was to be my main textbook - although I'd work out the occasional song from a CD, mostly I spent long, joyful hours playing Maiden tunes from this book." After the introducion to playing guitar at the beginning of the 90's in high school, as well as getting into truly inspirational music like Iron Maiden and Jethro Tull, Matt's college years were to see him truly get sucked into the seductive world of music. As a stepping stone to this opening, Matt discovered the music section of his local library in the summer after graduating high school. There he had his folk music, as well as a reintroduction to jazz. The jazz was in the form of flutist and sax player Rahsaan Roland Kirk - who was a major influence on the early Tull flute sound! Matt ended up buying a number of Roland Kirk CDs over the next few years (as well as the excellent Charles Mingus "Blues & Roots"), but these had only a small impact on his musical development. The folk music struck deeper. The most authentic find was a Musical Heritage Society record entitled "Irish Harp Pub Music" - actual field recordings of traditional Irish musicians in pubs. This (and local Irish band McDermott's Handy) got Matt started on Irish music, while some of the folk-rock and other folk crossover bands (like Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, and the Pentangle) introduced him to the traditional songs of the British Isles, and still form an active part of Matt's listening selection. Although he majored in the natural sciences at college, his first pack of friends in freshman year were all music majors. This led Matt to discovering a number of things - the music rehearsal building (with its pianos & pipe organs), the music library, and the student classical performances. Matt began slipping into the music building, armed with a simplified versions of Beethoven's "Fur Elise" and Mozart's "Sonata in C" that he got off of a music program on his home computer, and his Tull songbook. Matt found the proper version of "Fur Elise" in the school's musical score library, as well as Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", Bach's "Tocatta & Fugue in d minor", and some Scott Joplin (a throwback to his parent's listening in his youth). He learned to read the sheet music from his Webster's dictionary! Soon he was spending 3 hours at a time playing piano (mostly Beethoven, with a bit of Scott Joplin, and later Tchaikovsky) several times a week, and pipe organ (Bach) on Sundays! By the end of his college days, Matt was working on complex classical masterpieces like Beethoven's "Appassionata" and "Choral Fantasy" - without ever a lesson! (Although Matt would take a few music classes in college - including "Music of the Renassance", which ended up covering mostly vocal church and art music). As well as piano, Matt started to branch out into other instruments. He acquired a wooden fife (by Sweetheart Flutes) to see if he could play flute. Despite the ecouraging words of a friend ("you'll never get a sound out of it"), Matt took to the instrument - mostly just making up melodies. For Christmas he asked for and received a used flute, and picked up a book of Irish flute (and, soon, the excellent "O'Neil's Music of Ireland") and would spend many hours jigging and reeling away on it. He'd just leave the flute assembled on his desk and pick it up when the mood struck him - not the best way to care for an instrument, but an excellent way to achieve some level of competency at a new instrument! He also brought the classical side over, finding music by Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi for the flute. Similarly, he found a book of Irish ballads and songs and would try them with his guitar. Matt picked up a cello a few months later, and added that to his arsenal, as well as learning some classical guitar music by Bach, Fernando Sor, etc. on his electric guitar (he was kindly handed down an old classical guitar a few years later, as well as buying a cheap 12-string acoustic for $50 with the sales pitch "it's a piece of crap, but I like it"). He even was given his grandpappy's old fiddle a few years on, but he never got far with it ("I managed some Irish stuff one Christmas break, while my girlfriend was away and I had a lot of lonely free time"). To compliment his playing, Matt got deeply into listening to classical music during his college days. He would go to the music library and borrow records to listen to while studying. He picked up a budget 3-cd collection of Beethoven piano music (and soon after, a $20 Beethoven's complete symphonies) - and followed up by buying a large collection of classical music. Interestingly enough, Matt's CD buying followed his old "artist" allegiance, and he now owns over a hundred CDs by Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, and Tchaikovsky alone! In college, Matt mostly drifted from rock music (excepting his beloved Iron Maiden and Jethro Tull, both of which had a musical sophistication which stood up well next to classical music), and would spend his evenings listening to Beethoven String Quartets while reading Dickens and Conan Doyle. (As an aside - outside of music, Matt's reading taste during college drifted towards the classics, inspired by the books he actually liked in High School English and a "classics book sale" in the local book store. Matt was particularly into the 19th-century British authors Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories at this time.) When a friend (the notorious Chris Russo) had to attend a school opera performance for a class, he dragged Matt along. Although not previously into opera, and just barely getting into classical music at the time, Matt instantly fell in love with it. He proceeded to attend each of the school's productions while at college (an opera scenes performance in the fall and a full opera in the spring - usually in translation or with supertitles, which helped the new devotee!). By the time Matt was 25 he'd been to more operas than rock concerts! He even watched some opera on video at the school library (including Wagner's complete Ring cycle and Beethoven's "Fidelio"). Matt was also lucky enough to catch other classical performances put on by Mason Gross College (at Rutgers University). "I was always impressed with the excellent quality of performance at Mason Gross. Funny enough, I've never seen an opera or classical performance in NYC, but I've seen a few in New Brunswick's State Theater, Charleston, and they didn't make me think less of the college shows I saw. I think it probably helped that the college students were fresh to the art, and as excited to perform it as I was to hear it!" Towards the end of his college career, Matt had his late start in playing well with others. While living off campus one summer with a group of guys, Matt was brought into a band of one of his roommates. The band, "Joe Joe the Dog Faced Boy" had started out as Glenn Heller and Paul Acquaro playing guitars together - a mixture of jazz and flamenco influence. Matt describes it as "not the kind of thing I'd have done on my own, but I used to see them perform at the student center and really enjoyed it. Glenn decided to rename the band 'Joe Joe's Astrosmash' and turn it into more of a rock band - he made Paul play bass, brought me in on flute, and my old friend Todd Lanka (a bassist) on drums! It was kind of fun, but it was so weird to me - Glenn wrote most of the stuff himself, and had a very different musical background than me. I'd have to learn these things by ear - and I was used to playing from sheet music. And they made no musical sense to me! We played a few gigs around New Brunswick that summer, and then they reverted to the old duet for the school year, augmented by Todd on upright bass". Although he had fun with Joe Joe's, Matt ended up finding a musical partnership more up his alley with another roommate there - guitarist Mark Wieske. Matt and Mark started playing classical guitar duets together, then branched out to some Irish jigs & reels (with Matt on flute) and arranged some Scott Joplin tunes for guitar and flute. "Mark did some nice guitar on the Irish stuff and the Joplin - I still have some chords of his in my O'Neils book that I use for Sarabande! We eventually focused on the Scott Joplin stuff, and worked out a number of tunes - I even memorized them. We called ourselves "Swipesy", after one of Joplin's tunes, and made a tape for our parents' birthdays and played a couple parties, before we drifted. I thought it was a wonderful sound though - with the syncopated melody on the flute floating over the steady guitar chords. I still think about trying to recreate that for a recording someday, allthough my musical direction has carried me away from that style." Matt also met a classically-trained flutist named Shirley Pompoura, who worked at the college, and played some flute duets with her. After college, Matt's life was rather shaken up by a few incidents. He broke up with his college girlfriend of 2 years around when he finished school, and moved home to help his parents during some health problems. Although his mother's wasn't lasting, his father ended up passing away (under the combined assault of Multiple Sclerosis, lung cancer, and pneumonia). Matt was happy to have had those last months to spend with his father, especially after being away from home at college for years. During this time Matt started drifting back into rock music, picking up some Deep Purple (which made a nice transition, as Matt started out with their early classically-influenced stuff like "Concerto for Group & Orchestra") and getting into classic rock. He also, while living at home and working, had the money to pick up his first decent acoustic guitar (a "bottom-of-the-line Martin") and a decent, open-holed, flute. Matt soon entered the AmeriCorps, a domestic national-service program similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Peace Corps. "It was a great chance to serve my country without being sent to a war I may or may not agree with - no offence to our Armed servicemen and women. I greatly appreciate their courage and sacrifice, but sadly do not have enough faith in our government's foreign policy to trust they're always deployed for the right reasons. The AmeriCorps was a more hippy-friendly service choice, as well as more in-line with my natural resource studies. It felt good to be helping real people when we did tornado-disaster relief and helped out with the fires in Florida and the like, and I enjoyed the outdoor work in national parks. It was no free ride, though! We worked 80 and 100-hr weeks at times, and busted our butts doing heavy physical labor - and I managed to break 3 fingers and split my head open! It was good to be DOING something after all those years of talk in college." Matt still cites this as the best-spent year of his life, and made some very treasured friends there. The mobile lifestyle helped push Matt towards more of a folk leaning. He started singing traditional songs and Tull tunes to his new acoustic ("well, trying to sing at that point! Singing is something I've had to work on over the years"). He would play around with folk and modern popular songs with B.J., a teammate who also liked to play guitar and sing. Matt ended up picking up a mandolin ("a more portable guitar alternative - we had to pack 12 people and all our stuff in one van"), as well as his aunt's mountain dulcimer (which his mom gave him for Christmas) during this time, further pulling him into the folk world. He started performing a few open mics (mainly featuring the Fairport Convention standard "Matty Groves") and worked out some arrangements (including the flute arrangements for "Lord Lovel" and "Little Katie" which later appeared on Matt's first solo CD!). He also picked up a Fender Precision bass to lend to his friend Trevor Ritte, with whom he wrote the instrumental "Twilight at Midday" which Matt still hopes to record on a solo or group rock CD someday. Towards the end of his Americorps days, Matt was getting more and more drawn to music. The constant mobility (in the Americorps it was not unheard of to find out you'd be relocated to another state in a few days) and living out of a suitcase gave Matt a flavor for what a touring musician might expect, and he liked it. He enjoyed the feeling of new places and things to do, and having some purpose. He also was working on some originals and folksong arrangements (the arrangements of "Lord Lovel" and "Little Katie" that would end up on his "Lost Way" CD came from this period, as well as "Scarborough Faire" on the dulcimer). He decided when he left the AmeriCorps to try to get a day job where he'd expand upon some of the skills he'd learned there and try to find a band. He landed a job in house-framing that didn't last long - the nail gun caused severe cramping (carpel tunnel?) in his hands and he knew this wasn't good for a musician! They also paid him hardly more than he was making in retail as a college job, but without any benefits or overtime pay. He got a job again at Borders Books (where he'd worked between college and AmeriCorps) - intending it to be "just until he found something better", but it's proved flexible enough for a musician lifestyle and he's been there for years! (Not to mention leaving Matt more energy for practice than construction did.) At first, Matt was trying for a folk project, due to the acoustic playing he'd been focusing on for the last year or so, but although he did a few auditions, he didn't find any interest. Getting a full-time paycheck again gave Matt a chance to pick up a decent guitar and amp (the traditional Fender Strat / Marshall combo of Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, etc.) and he started looking for a situation in a rock band, as well as working on writing his own music. He went to an audition for a couple of guys from Brazil, Rod and Fabiano (guitar and drums), who knew each other and a singer who was also auditioning. The singer didn't really work out, but Matt and Rod hit it off pretty well (Fabiano seemed OK, too, but he didn't speak English so they didn't quite connect as well!). Matt and Rod both had an interest in heavy metal and progressive rock (although Rod was mainly into the metal side). They set about working on two of Rod's tunes and a somewhat convoluted tune of Matt's entitled "The Song Of Taliesyn", while seeking a bassist and singer. They decided to learn a few covers for the singers to audition with, since the previous attempt at auditioning a singer without any set pieces had proved difficult, so they learned Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers", Jethro Tull's "Aqualung", and Iron Maiden's "Infinite Dreams". Sadly, the search for additional musicians was unsuccessful and after a month or two, Fabiano ended up moving back to Brazil, leaving the two guitarists alone. Matt saw an ad in the Aquarian (a local music paper) for a guitarist for a metal and progressive band and decided to see if they'd take two. Thus, around August of 1999, Matt showed up at the house of keyboardist Joe Dell for an audition (Rod not being available that day). There was a miscommunication (Matt had left a message about Rod not being available, but Joe thought neither were coming), and Joe wasn't home when Matt arrived. Joe came home later to find Matt playing some Jethro Tull on his acoustic on his front steps. Aside from Joe, bassist Dan Castiel, and drummer Frank Melick (who with Matt would soon become Sleepy Hollow), another guitarist showed up for the audition (the songs used for the audition were two pieces the first 3 band members had started working on, later to become "Out Of The Mist" and "From Above") and, although he was a much superior lead guitarist to Matt, the band decided to give Matt the gig. Matt just fit in better personality- (and appearance) wise with the band, but it probably didn't hurt that Joe was a big Tull fan! It turns out Matt and Joe had a widely overlapping taste in music - classic progressive rock and metal, discussing bands like King Crimson and Wishbone Ash. They have since turned each other on to many of their new favorites such as Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Uriah Heep, etc. Matt liked the fact that the band seemed to have an old-school prog-rock influence as well as being into metal (bassist Dan and Joe were both big Iron Maiden fans like Matt). Matt had taken the week off for a family vacation at the shore, and decided to work on his guitar rather than go on vacation. This set the pattern for Matt's dedication to music over the years, much to the detriment of his social life, as his long suffering girlfriend can attest (not to mention anyone from whom he's declined a party invitation with "sorry, I've got to practice for an upcoming gig"). He returned with Rod to audition again, only to realize the band had already accepted him. Rod was accepted, also, but things didn't work out as well with him. Although Rod had been able to learn Matt's complex "Song of Taliesyn" (which Sleepy Hollow put off as too much work to learn), he didn't gel as much with Sleepy Hollow's writing style and the others let him go (although they all liked him). Matt recalls vividly the last time he worked with Rod, who'd come down to Matt's house to brush up on some tunes. That night, after Rod left, Hurricane Floyd made Matt's home an island - surrounded on all sides by several feet of water! "I enjoyed working with Rod, but I stayed with Sleepy Hollow because we had a full band and I saw how much time could be lost seeking musicians! And I liked their music." Sleepy Hollow would try out other lead guitarists (Matt was particularly keen on the harmony guitar sound of bands like Iron Maiden and Wishbone Ash) and various singers, with no success. Dan was quite comfortable as a singer and Frank was an excellent backing vocalist who could do fine on leads, also. Dan was a big fan of the multi-vocalist/no-front-man style of bands like KISS, the Beatles, and Pink Floyd, so Sleepy Hollow decided everyone would sing and play lead. So, Matt spent a lot of time working on his vocals and lead guitar, skills which weren't exactly his strengths! Unfortunately, what he saw as his strength didn't get full play - Matt's progressive metal songs were "put off for later" by the band. Aside from the "Song Of Taliesyn" (which arose when Matt was playing some medieval dances and wrote a little melody of his own, which he fleshed out in a sort of Iron Maidenish arrangement), Matt had finally written lyrics to finish off two other pieces he was working on. ("The Mirror" and "La Femme Arme") and soon finished his prog-metal masterpiece "Aristotle's Lantern". Joe had just finished spending two years in progressive metal band Spectrum Green only to break up after one gig. He wanted to get a set of music together quickly and play out before working on really complex stuff. (Dan was simply more interested in simpler stuff like KISS or writing songs together as a band). Matt accepted this for the time, as the band as a unit was very prolific and had a great songwriting chemistry - songs like "Sleepy Hollow" and "Armageddon" were put together with various member input and fit Matt's taste in music perfectly. When Frank and Dan left Sleepy Hollow at the end of 2001, and Joe was struggling with various studios and engineers trying to get the right sound from the forthcoming "Going Over" CD (which was recorded in a weekend or two in the fall of 2001, but only finally released in 2004!) Matt first focused on seeking a new drummer/rhyhm section for the band. As time went by, he started performing solo, with acoustic guitar - first in the nightclubs he'd known from his Sleepy Hollow days (where he'd been trying his set out at open-mikes), and soon branching out to bookstores and coffeehouses. Along with arrangements of Sleepy Hollow material and the occasional cover (like Iron Maiden's "Prodigal Son" and Jethro Tull's "Dun Ringill"), Matt's set would eventually lean more towards some new original folksongs and traditional British material. Matt also formed an acoustic project - Sacred Fool - with 12-string guitarist Steve Klem, their originals mixing folk, medieval, eastern, and rock'n'roll music and showing a strong influence by the acoustic work of Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. Steve brought in classic rock covers, and Matt traditional folk songs to fill out the sets. Sacred Fool would see Matt performing on not just acoustic guitar, but also flute, mandolin, lap dulcimer, and 'cello, while Steve used several 6- and 12- string acoustic guitars with various tunings, as well as mandolin and (eventually) electric guitar, and the band tried a few other members (notably the lovely soprano Bonnie Filipak). Over the course of the year, Matt recorded an acoustic album (entitled "The Lost Way" - which saw a limited pressing in December of 2003 with a full pressing following several months later) of the originals and traditional songs of his solo set, focusing on his guitar and vocals but with plenty of flute and Matt's dulcimer, harp, and mandolin making appearances. He also included a few guest musicians on some tracks (Steve and Bonnie from Sacred fool appear on two tracks each and bassist Todd Lanka - a friend of Matt's since kindergarten - adds cello and bass violin to 3 songs). 2003 saw Matt performing acoustically with Sleepy Hollow, Sacred Fool, and solo. People who heard Matt's CD often commented that he should do Renaissance Faires, and Matt started practicing his harp in earnest. Sacred Fool parted ways as Matt drifted more towards the traditional folk side, while Steve was more into Alice Cooper covers and his own rock songs. (Matt saw Steve a few years later with a rock band and thought he was great). 2004 saw Matt performing solo harp gigs and entering the Renaissance Faire circuit. He started off with the NJ Renaissance Kingdom, which had him playing guitar and singing as part of the Wench & Rogue group and playing flute for the maypole dance and the Revellers troupe. He also played renaissance guitar as a "strolling mintrel" and played his harp in between other performances. During rehearsals for the NJRK, Matt met up with flautist Lisa Thompson and violinist Julia Hull, and they decided to try out some music together. Lisa had various pieces of renaissance sheet music, Matt had a book of gypsy violin tunes, and everyone brought in some Irish stuff - thus Sarabande was born! They would grab an empty stage and play when not performing elsewhere at the faire. After the 2004 NJRK, Matt picked up a handful of small renaissance faire gigs later in the year, including the Paladin Family Medieval Festival, The Wrightstown Village Library Renaissance Faire (in PA), and a Medieval Faire in Maine. The following years saw Matt enlarging his renaissance faire circuit, encompassing about a dozen faires in NJ, PA, NY, VA, NH, & ME -usually repeating previous festivals as well as seeking out new ones (sadly, he had to turn down a few due to conflicting gigs). At most of these faires he concentrated on harp, as well as strolling minstrel, where he played renaissance music on guitar, and - later - mandola (a more period looking guitar and lute family instrument), with some flute and recorder. He also picked up some renaissance-related gigs - renaissance weddings, libraries, and various gigs through the Period Productions group. At the NJRK, he sang and played guitar (and sometimes harp) with the Wench & Rogues, Revellers, and Maypole shows, played recorder and flute for dancers, and performed (mostly guitar, but some flute and harp) with Sarabande. Sarabande added Maria Gavilanes on percussion (and occasional guitar) and recorded a CD in 2006, and picked up a few gigs outside the NJRK. Sometimes, two or three members would perform (sometimes causing instrument switches - at one gig Matt played Lisa's parts on flute and Maria played Matt's guitar parts!). At the end of 2007, Matt relocated to Colorado because of a woman (she's a looker!). Since Sleepy Hollow was focusing on recording (Matt would fly in for mixing and overdubs), this was his chance to finally live in the same state as his girlfriend again, and also try a new music scene. It worked out well for him, for in 2008 he was accepted into the CO Renaissance Festival, which was a bigger event than his previous faires. They hired him as a harpist, so he finally was able to concentrate fully on one instrument! He arranged a number of songs from the Sarabande and "Lost Way" albums for solo harp performance, as well as working in a few new, challenging pieces he'd been meaning to add to his repertoire. One of the other performers there - Matt Rose of Castle Musicale - had a home studio and offered to record our hero, so the Mole finally got a chance to record a CD of solo harp music - something listeners had been asking him for for years! Performing 5 or 6 hours a day for 8 weekends also got Matt in condition to record this CD relatively smoothly. As well as the chance to perform a steady gig for 8 weekends and the opportunity to record a harp CD, Matt met violinist Jennifer "Melimiti" Scott, who was kind enough to do some violin parts for the Sleepy Hollow "Legend" sessions. After the faire, Matt was asked to do a number of harp gigs in October (some through faire connections), and Matt Rose asked him to join his group Castle Musicale for some recordings for a medieval Christmas CD, and for a handful of holiday gigs with the group. He also requested Matt play harp with the Castle Rock Orchestra's March 2009 performance of Hovhannes's 2nd Symphony, which is an exciting new prospect for our Mole (he has since continued to perform as a regular member of the orchestra, despite the fact that the modern classical music favored by the orchestra is not easily playable on Matt's folk harp!). Dec. 2008 saw the official release of Matt's solo harp album "The Journeyman Harper". He currently is focusing on harp playing and recording, while fine-tuning the long-awaited "Legend" album with Joe and Sleepy Hollow.