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Circle of Hope Audio Arts

The Dead Man's Rag

by Matt Sowell

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This is Matts1st release outside demos .


released February 22, 2013


Matt grew up in a modest row home in South West Philadelphia. Life was not easy but his mom did the best she could with what she had. Sowell became connected to old time music through his grandfather Frank. Frank was from the mountains in North Carolina and was tone deaf but in a charming way. One of Matt's older brothers, Stephan, played rag time music on the piano. The alternating syncopation really stuck out to Matt. Stephan was a really talented musician. He would later give Matt an old Harmony guitar. Matt's other brothers had an interest in music as well.

Later Sowell began his career as an apprentice carpenter under Nevin Fahs. Nevin was not only an incredible historic carpenter, but a great guitar player as well. They would talk music alot. He introduced Matt to Bukka White, Mississippi John Hurt. Nevin would remind Matt that this was being done on one guitar. NO LOOP PEDALS. NO SECOND GUITAR! Nevin would later demonstrate this by playing his version of the Ode to Joy on a guitar in Blue Bond Guitars. Nevin had Matt's attention now. Nevin also had old magazines from the 60's and 70's. There was this one Kicking Mule tab book with Scott Joplin guitar tabs that Nevin had. Nevin printed it and gave it to Sowell. Matt did not learned all of them but this gave Sowell a good foundation to build on. Nevin is retired now and has an instrument company called Red Head Mandolins based out of Woodberry NJ.

In 2005 Matt saw Jack Rose play. Sowell had seen Jack around around town mostly at the Rocket Cat Coffee shop. Jack opened with Sunflower River Blues. Matt was completely floored by his playing. Sowell went home and started to play around with alternate tunings. Jack opened the door in a very real way to see the potential of what can be done on a guitar. Up until this point Sowell was listening to cd's. Matt didn't even have a computer to go to You Tube. Matt Sowell is grateful that he was exposed to Jack's playing. After learning that the Sun Flower River Blues was written by John Fahey Matt started to do some research and came across the American Primitive genre.

Some highlights of this past year for Matt Sowell has been playing at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, be a featured guest on the Folk show on WXPN with Don Bikoff. Sowell has performed at the Twisted Tail where mayor Michael Nutter was in attendence. Matt Sowell opened for Mark Fosson at the Rotunda (University of Penn) Matt has also put on several American Primitive shows at Circle of Hope (F&N). Some of these guests have been Glenn Jones, Don Bikoff, Neil Tapp and Jerry Hioniss.

all songs performed and written by Matt Sowell
Produced and engineered By Joseph Mahoney
@ circle of hope audio Art



all rights reserved


Matt Sowell Minneapolis, Minnesota

Matt Sowell is an instrumental acoustic guitar player. Influenced by the guitar finger stylings of Jack Rose and John Fahey, Matt is constantly being challenged and evolving as a guitar player. Combining American blues, attributes of rag time with hints of Indian Ragas in his pieces, the sonic textures that Matt plays will bring you to deep introspective places. ... more

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