On Friday, January 31, The Matchcoats will perform at Sound & Page. The acoustic duo lovingly continue musical traditions native to the South and aim to inspire a similar appreciation in others. A practitioner of alternating-bass blues guitar, Gabe Akins sees the show as a celebration of one of Alabama’s cultural treasures: “I hope everyone has an opportunity to look around them, think back, and ask, ‘Why we are hearing folk music and blues today?’”
“I hope they will find encouragement to know their own story and how it spans far beyond the years present in our own experience,” he continues. “Culture in the South is both rich and complex and I think we all would do well to practice exploring and understanding it.”
It’s evident from their music that The Matchcoats are in touch with Southern culture. The lovely harmony of Gabe and Sarah Akins’ voices and the lesson-laced lyrics could have easily been pulled from a long history of oral tradition and front porch gatherings. The roots of their music run deep in Southern soil, drawing from ragtime and Delta blues pioneers as well as the folk resurgence of the ‘60s.
Those familiar with The Matchcoats’ duo style will be pleasantly surprised to hear the contributions of two newcomers- Carter Laney and Doug Davis of The Yahoos. Laney brings fiddle and banjo into the equation while Davis provides upright bass. “Sarah and I both had moments during practice where we had to refocus our attention,” says Akins. “We were basking in the glow of what seems to so naturally flow from their seasoned fingers.”
The two add an old-time string feel to The Matchcoats’ vintage folk and blues, an appropriate meeting of sounds that grow up in the same neighborhood. “Sarah and I both enjoy old time string band music,” says Akins. “Since our sound tends to be more basic and traditional, we thought asking Carter and Doug to join us would help form a more full sound spectrum.”
Equally fitting is the venue, the recently opened Sound & Page in Woodlawn. Grey Haven founder Caleb Chancey and company have created a limited seating listening room for intimate engagements between artists and listeners. Since its 2013 opening, Sound & Page has showcased serious talent and inspired songwriting from Birmingham and elsewhere.
“I really appreciate what they are doing for culture,” says Akins. “I think their space and time is conducive to more than just how we spend our free time away from work. Sound & Page and the folks behind it are fostering genuine leisure that is aimed at the well-being of individuals and local culture.” That’s the crux of the show- celebrate the culture that bred the music.
On Sunday, January 26, The Matchcoats will appear on Birmingham Mountain Radio’s Southbound. Tune in to 107.3 FM, 97.3 HD2, or listen online. The program starts at 8 p.m.
Sound & Page is located at 5529 1st Ave South, Birmingham, Alabama 35212. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. This event is BYOB.
You can join the Facebook event here.
Cover photo by Hebert Handal.