William Matheny, Jordan Smart
Thu March 7, 2024 7:30 pm (Doors: 7:00 pm )
The Southgate House Revival - Revival Room
Ages 18 and Up
$12 adv/$15 dos
William Matheny

“Y'know, I once had a birthright/ but I traded it in/ For a fine collection/ Of motel pens”

Let me tell you an anecdote about William Matheny. And no, this is not the 5:15 AM drive to the Albany Airport when we both were drinking Genesee beer and black coffee because we were both thinking correctly at that hour. More on that later. It was before I really knew William, but the moment when I knew that he was great. Envision: A punk rock club in Washington, DC, its inhabitants and paid customers. Who knows why and how he had been booked? A songwriter from Mannington, West Virginia stepping into the lair of upper-crust, judgment-packed DC punks with their Fugazi-leftover orthodoxies in their wildly provincial scene. He had fifteen minutes, a Vox amp, a telecaster and no one interested in the audience. I live in DC and I would have fled. There was a 10,000% chance that the next band up was going to have a spiel about gentrification and then play “angular riffs.” Billy -- I can call him that, you can’t -- played a solo set. He played loud. He played “Out For Revenge” and “29 Candles” and “Teenage Bones” and the other great songs which you may not have heard on his debut LP. Over the course of that short set he first brought that crowd to heel and then brought the crowd around. By the end the applause was thick and the appreciation unmistakable. He did it in DC. He can do it anywhere.

But let’s talk about the other thing with the beers and the coffee and Albany. You need to know that William Matheny and I have been through some things together. We’ve seen parts of the world that I was sure existed only in Elmore Leonard novels. When I needed to pull over on the Cross-Bronx Expressway to throw up in a plastic trash bag, he was my driver and bag provider. We made it to the Bowery Ballroom an hour later for soundcheck and everything went great. William Matheny is the lead guitarist in my band the Paranoid Style, in addition to his other obligations. William Matheny is a man that makes things happen.

William Matheny may be the best songwriter working, and is at a minimum the best songwriter you might have never heard of. For those who haven’t had that good fortune, let's go, as Warner Wolfe used to say, to the videotape. Consider his 2018 standout single “Christian Name,” which is like Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream” if it had been “Runnin’ Down A Nightmare.” Or reckon with “Living Half to Death,” the comically terrifying instant classic from 2017’s Strange Constellations in which he apologizes for “abusing all his friendships and drinking all their beer.”

Over the past four years, he has assembled a wondrous catalog which situates itself amongst the indelible tradition of roots-rock misfits like Guy Clark and Lowell George, with just enough Jackson Browne-craft and Springsteen-triumphalism to make the thing potentially huge. You can’t talk about Matheny without talking about West Virginia, although it is sometimes true that he would prefer not to discuss it. Matheny is from Mannington, population smaller than your average small town. Like most of the state, Mannington fought on the side of the Union in the Civil War and represented a crucial strategic stronghold as one of the stops on the B&O Railroad. The correct side, not that it helped all that much. They say history is written by the winners, but in spite of upholding the Union, history was not written by Mannington. Heavy industry: logging and coal. An oil boom in the 1910s. Comfortable lives and then the Great Depression. Bankers and foreclosures. History was written by Mannington and then history was written on Mannington. That grand old feeling, indeed.

And while he might not always want to talk about it, West Virginia is a central character in Matheny’s songs. The dirty snow falling on the Coffindaffer Crosses, the Moundsville guards, the doomed shout-outs to Stoney Cooper, the unhappily married lovers at the Elks Lodge and the tapes from Go-Mart melting on the dashboard all enforce the notion that the man can travel wide and far from Mannington, but Mannington never leaves the man. Like so many before him -- Elvis from Tupelo or the Mekons from Leeds -- he can check out any time he likes. But he can never et cetera, et cetera. Or as he once elegantly put it, “Moon over Mannington/ Moon over Spain/ Moon over happiness/ Moon over pain.”

Two things occur to you when you realize that your lead guitar player has made a series of incredible, self-evidently life-changing records. First of all you couldn't be more proud. Secondly you wonder: “Wait -- am I going to lose my lead guitar player?” Ronnie Wood once memorably titled his own solo collection: I Got My Own Album To Do. Fortunately, that turned out to only be half-true -- or at least not career-altering -- and soon enough Ronnie was re-ensconced into the “ancient art of weaving” alongside Keith and Mick. Will Billy and I weave together again? I know we will, but we both know things are likely to be materially different once the world experiences Strange Constellations, Moon Over Kenova and his forthcoming third record. It’s like he sings on “Late Blooming Forever:”

“Oh dear friends and gentle hearts/ That I've known along the way/ I've been late blooming/ but I think it's gonna happen any day.”

It’s happened.

-Elizabeth Nelson, Durham, NC, 2nd November 2021

Jordan Smart

After logging thousands of miles hitch-hiking and countless hours busking curbside in cities around the country, Jordan Smart had gained quite a bit of life experience to share with his listeners. Slowly working his way into the hearts of smoky old dive bars and tucked-away mountain music festivals, it came as no surprise to those who had come to know and love his music and message when Jordan joined the ranks of folk singers before him and landed multiple slots opening for Senator Bernie Sanders on his presidential campaign trail. Anyone with a little musical ability can call themselves a singer-songwriter, but Smart is a Troubadour, tried and true, and he earned his chops in the streets of America. 


The folk singer-songwriter was born in Cleveland, and raised in the rolling hills of rural North East Ohio. Smart’s songs evoke rich and timeless imagery not unlike the landscape he grew up in or the many he has visited in his travels. He has mastered the art of lyrically conveying both simple and complex human emotion, often with a good dole of wit. With a sound that is raw yet accessible Smart has made friends and fans throughout the country, and his reach is beginning to extend around the globe. He is currently booking in support of his first full-length album entitled “Heart of It All” released fall of 2017.