Matthew King has a few projects on the horizon that will be of great interest to local music fans.
First, he puts the finishing touches on “The Resonance Within,” the second release from his Latin Funk Fusion band, TapRoots. Plus, he’s gearing up for the Global Groove Fest, a mini-festival that celebrates world music that’s scheduled for the Shea Theater Arts Center in Turners Falls on Friday, August 19 at 8 p.m. The festival will feature performances by TapRoots, Hartford’s The Lost Tribe and Amherst’s Jose Gonzalez and Banda Criollo. The festival will also serve as a CD release show for TapRoots’ new album.
The King of Amherst is very busy, but his enthusiasm for both projects outweighs any stress he might feel.
TapRoots was born out of King’s work with reggae-rap group, the Alchemystics. The band’s drummer, the late DemseZullo, encouraged King to follow his own musical vision. So he took that advice and formed TapRoots. A multi-instrumentalist who handles vocals and songwriting for the band, King draws inspiration from elements of rock, soul, reggae, salsa, soul, hip-hop, samba , folk rhythms and beyond. TapRoots creates uplifting, highly danceable music that defies easy categorization. King said that because of this, people are sometimes hesitant to check out the band, but once they do, they quickly become fans.
TapRoots’ debut album was released in 2018, and now with “The Resonance Within”, King takes music to the next level.
“I wrote all the music in the first two years of the pandemic because I was teaching remotely and was home a lot,” King said in a recent phone interview. “I figured I might as well do something with time because I felt that creative spurt. When I started writing the music, I realized that it was evolving into a more complex sound with more of a tinge to it. Latin.
To capture this sound on record, King began working with a group of almost all new musicians.
“The old team was really great when it came to the reggae and funk aspects of things,” King explained. “For this album, I really wanted to have people who were born into the rhythmic framework of Latin music. I’ve put together a new group for the live show that relies heavily on Latin players who really have a feel for that swing.
TapRoots’ lyrics have always been uplifting and positive, reflecting King’s spiritual side, and this time around, some of the issues that arose during the pandemic were also reflected in his writing.
“I feel like in many ways the pandemic has forced us to face the fact that time is really short, so why not experience your joy today?” said the king. “So I feel like on this album, there’s a lot of those kinds of questions about what are you going to choose? You’re presented with all these options about how you want to live your life and how do you want to use this time ahead of you?”
To give listeners a preview of the new album, TapRoots recently released a single titled “Song for the Ocean.”
“‘Song for the Ocean’ is my tribute to Yemaya, the Yoruba Orisha of the ocean, as well as the mother of all life, because all life began in the sea,” King explained. “Like many TapRoots songs, it crosses over many genres – from reggaetón to samba reggae, salsa, folk music and timba. I really wanted it to come out in time for the summer, because when I hear it, I can feel the sun on my face in the ocean waves singing me to sleep as the ocean recedes in the background.
‘Song for the Ocean’, with its bright horns and driving beats, is definitely a feel-good song and an indication that the music of ‘The Resonance Within’ is going to be special.
The king agrees. “It sounds otherworldly, beyond all my expectations and I can’t wait to put it in people’s ears,” he said. He also hopes to branch out and bring his music to as many stages as possible, perhaps focusing on festivals next summer.
But it all starts at Global Groove Fest, when King and his 11-piece band take the stage at Shea where they’ll perform music from the new album.
King describes Global Groove Fest as a celebration of culture, spirit, rhythm and the arts. This is the second Global Groove Fest he has organized, the first having taken place in Holyoke in 2019.
“I love the idea of branding the Global Groove Fest. I love what I can put under that umbrella,” King said, adding that it’s about celebrating the great music in the world that is available to us here in the valley.
The other artists on the lineup are great examples of the talent we have access to in our region. The Lost Tribe is a drum-centric afro-funk fusion ensemble led by multi-percussionist Jocelyn Pleasant. Their sound crosses many genres rooted in West African rhythms and sensibilities, with performances full of energy and groove.
Also on the bill, Jose Gozalez and Banda Briolla. Gonzalez is a guitarist from Puerto Rico who has called the valley home for many years now. With their band Banda Criolla, you can expect the band to bring high energy, authentic Latin/Spanish/World music to the Shea.
There will be live vendors and paintings throughout the event, so grab your dancing shoes and head to the Shea.
“It’s about bridging cultural differences and it just comes down to us having to talk to each other,” King said. “We need to spend time with each other, we need to learn each other’s languages and we need to learn to celebrate with each other. This show is just one of the many ways I think this can be done in a positive way, in a way that will have far reaching implications.
Doors open at 7 p.m., the show is at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.showclix.com/event/global-groove-fest-at-the-shea or at sheatheater.org
We have lost a bright light on our local music scene with the recent passing of musician Kate Lorenz. Her brother Matt Lorenz (The Suitcase Junket) announced the loss via his Facebook page saying she died unexpectedly two weeks ago. Kate and Matt Lorenz along with Zak Trojano founded the Amherst-based folk-rock band Rusty Belle in the early 2000s and were a staple in the valley for many years. Kate Lorenz then launched a solo career and released her first and only album, “Sing When Lonely” in 2018.
An incredible singer, whose music has brought great joy to our community, she has often appeared on many stages here in the Valley, from singing with her brother at his Suitcase Junket shows, to leading her group the Constellations or having fun at one of the many Llama Lasagna Shows.
I had the good fortune to have the pleasure of interviewing her a few times over the years and always found her to be extremely warm and optimistic. Condolences to his family, friends and many fans. Kate Lorenz, you will be missed.
Sheryl Hunter is a freelance writer who resides in Easthampton. His work has appeared in various regional and national publications. She can be contacted at [email protected]