Album Cover Photo: Natia Cinco
Matthew Check’s attraction to the rootsy, honest pop/folk/introspective rock of the mid-late ‘70s takes hold on his forthcoming record, Without a Throne (out 9/30). The resulting hybrid of that sound—with his authentic vocals, somewhere between Jakob Dylan and the Waterboys’ Mike Scott—dominates and energizes the album’s approach.
On the lighthearted country twang of “Pretty Mama,” Check finds himself dancing in a honky tonk singing, “Come on pretty mamma won’t you take me down to this little hole in the wall on the edge of town/Wanna stick around until the break of day and let a little song take our troubles away.”
Matthew Check – Photo by Natia Cinco.
The original version of “Pretty Mama” was written by a friend – the Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Andy Hunt. “In my first decade as a New Yorker (when I was playing the banjo almost exclusively), I used to have a weekend Bluegrass Brunch residency with Andy and his wife Nancy at the Nolita House in downtown Manhattan,” says Check.
“While we played mostly bluegrass standards, we also played many of Andy’s original melodies too – one of them being ‘Pretty Mama.’ I remember loving this song every time we played it, especially for its arc towards classic country and Americana (particularly in the three-part harmonies). The thought always remained with me, ‘I’d love to record this one day.’ So when I decided to record Without a Throne in Nashville (arguably one of the meccas for this style of music), it seemed appropriate to ask Andy if he’d dust off the chords and lyrics and send them to me. He did and I even added a pre-chorus and an extra verse a few weeks before stepping into the studio.
The last thing I’ll say about the song is that Andy wrote it about one of Brooklyn’s storied bars – Sunny’s in the neighborhood of Red Hook. Ever since I’ve been a New Yorker, Sunny’s has been a place for hanging out, drinking and playing music. The bar has endured so much over the past decade (floods and the lockdowns of the early pandemic for example). Through it all, the bar has truly remained nothing less than a sacred space for many. There was even recently an art installation of local bluegrass pickers, portraits of them hanging in the back room where they’ve all been jamming together year after year. It’s really an amazing place and I’m excited to bring a song to life that pays tribute to such a musical institution of New York City.”
Listen to Check’s brand new song “Pretty Mama,” exclusively at Raised Rowdy.
Be sure to follow Matthew Check on all social media platforms for upcoming music and tour dates.
August 24 – Album release show @ The Bitter End / New York, NY