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5 Questions with Matt Lindsey

Chip Ellis
Taking a bluegrass turn with jazz standards, the Dread Pirate, Roberts, plays the Bluegrass Kitchen this month. The band is (from left) Rob Francis, Matt Lindsey and Bryan Roberts.
WANT TO GO? The Dread Pirate, RobertsWHERE: Bluegrass Kitchen, 1600 Washington St. E.WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through JulyCOST: Free INFO: 304-346-2871__________________CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tuesday nights this month at the Bluegrass Kitchen, flat-picking guitar champion Matt Lindsey performs with a new jazz/bluegrass fusion trio called "The Dread Pirate, Roberts."The band, which also includes guitarist Bryan Roberts and upright bass player Rob Francis, takes its name from Rob Reiner's film "The Princess Bride," which seemed a little odd (dare we say, "inconceivable") for a West Virginia band that plays a mix of jazz and bluegrass. The gazz spoke with Lindsey to find out what the connection is, if any, and how the band got started. Q: How was The Dread Pirate, Roberts, formed?A: "I met Bryan Roberts at the Fret and Fiddle in St. Albans. Bryan was teaching over there, and I go over there and hang out. I've been going for years and years."Someone said we should sit down and play a tune together and that led to us getting together to swap tunes and ideas. We'd get together about once a week, and we thought we might ought to get some gigs playing parties. We worked up a couple of hours worth of material and started doing that and playing corporate picnics, those types of events.
"My friend Rob [Francis] and I play in a band at Maranantha Fellowship. He plays electric bass, and he went out and bought a standup bass. I told him we were looking to find a standup bass player, and he had the bass and started learning our material."Q: Why call the band Dread Pirate, Roberts?"
A: "Well, Bryan's last name is Roberts, and then there's the movie ['The Princess Bride']. I've watched that over and over. I've got a number of kids, and we just loved it."I kind of brought the name up almost as a joke. Bryan and I never used it when we played out as a duo. It was always Matt Lindsey and Bryan Roberts, but when we brought Rob on, we thought we needed to get a band name."It's kind of funny."Q: What do you play?A: "We play a lot of jazz standards -- older jazz. Once I got to the mid-1950s, that's about as far as I got into jazz. I don't know. That's just where I felt the best jazz was."Bryan and I are both into Charlie Parker and Django Reinhardt. We share those common interests. I come at music from the flat-picking side, like from Doc Watson or Tony Rice, and Bryan comes at it from a more jazz/rock point of view.
"We meet in the middle and do everything from traditional fiddle tunes to Charlie Parker and Chick Corea. We're working on a song by Stevie Wonder. I guess we're not really putting any limits on genre. We're taking music from many genres and putting our own twist on it."Q: The band gets billed as "jazz grass." Did you come up with that, or is that an actual musical genre?A: "You know what? Jon Steele kind of coined that for us. I think that's the closest anyone has gotten to putting a genre to it. I think it describes it pretty well."Q: You do a lot of flat-picking contests. You're a flat-picking guitar champ. Do you think you'll compete with this band?A: "Well ... no. The flat-picking is more of a solo thing, but we're thinking about playing the Appalachian String Band contest at Clifftop this year -- that is, if I can talk them into it." Reach Bill Lynch at or 304-348-5195.
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