Guitar and Vocals with Matt Katz
RIVAA GALLERY, 529 Main Street
RIVAA to Host “Music and Memory” Concert
Matt Katz will offer a variety of songs, guitar music and reminiscences at a 4:00 P.M. recital on Saturday, March 26 at Gallery RIVAA. Katz, a twenty-two-year Roosevelt Island resident, has played the guitar for over fifty years.
He started playing as a twelve-year-old, after attending a summer camp at which Pete Seeger, a Beacon, New York neighbor of the camp, led the kids in al fresco songs. Matt, a piano student at the time, was relegated to playing castanets on the lawn, a role he found “unsatisfying.” He studied basic guitar technique at Brooklyn College and much later, classical guitar at the Guitar Study Center, operated by Paul Simon’s younger brother, Eddie.
He has performed in a variety of venues including the Lake Tarleton Club in Pike, New Hampshire, a summer resort that catered to a New York, Boston and Montreal clientele, where his primary job was lifeguard. He also has performed on cruise ships where his duties included squiring single young ladies in the evenings.
Katz began teaching guitar during his U.S. Army tenure (our of sheer boredom, he says) and this continued with his return to civilian life in New York, teaching privately, at community centers and settlement houses and at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope. While he adored teaching, he gave it up for, as he says, “a job that actually would support me.”
While stationed in Honolulu, he and a young Navy chaplain wrote and produced a service with an environmental theme and presented it at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base synagogue, a Quonset hut that the rabbi shared with the Seventh Day Adventists. Katz attributes the success of the program to the mountain of music with an ecological theme sent to him by Pete Seeger.
Katz has performed in an assortment of contexts here on Roosevelt Island. He presented a solo recital at Gallery RIVAA several years ago, and has played during the Fall for Arts Festival and during the RIRA 9/11 memorial observances. He participated in making the Roosevelt Island film, A Necessary Music, and contributed a guitar solo to the sound tract. In addition, and with Chris Fuller and Howie Leifer, the other two-thirds of the Bearded Bards, they have presented a half-dozen folk music concerts under the auspices of the Roosevelt Island branch of the New York Public Library. In their group bio, Matt claimed that the trio had been born in a Louisiana canebrake and were raised by wolves.
Matthew holds his opportunity to perform with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, at Peter’s home during a fundraiser for Island-based Orphans International, as a supreme highlight of his musical career. “For a baby-boomer folkie, it was a fantasy moment,” he said.
Saturday’s two-hour program will include folk, blues, classical, and ragtime music and of course, a large helping of his beloved Tom Lehrer songs. The concert is free and everyone is invited.