Matt Dunnam

Matt Dunnam is a singer/songwriter based out of Austin, TX. Matt first hit the scene in San Marcos back in the late 90’s with a group of up and comers that included a young Honeybrowne and Rusty Schramm. Matt’s first album was titled “Red River Outlaw” and is a really nice collection of tunes. Perhaps, his most well-known track is “Stevie Ray and Jack”. Matt has been out of the scene the last couple years but is coming back with a vengenance this fall with a new record and outlook. Check him out in this edition of 20 Questions!

1. What’s new and exciting with the Matt Dunnam Band?
Our new record, ‘Roadside Theater,’ no release date yet, but very soon. Our new lives.

2. You’ve been out of the scene for a while. What have you been up to?
Living, we’ve had some life threatening scares, life changing experiences, Justin now has a seven month old daughter, etc. We’ve been gaining a better perspective on who we are and where we want to go.

3. Name association:
Pat Green – Great person and friend
Cory Morrow – The Preacher
Jack Ingram – Adairs
Steve Earle – Prisoner’s Voice
Randy Rogers – San Marcos late at night
Doug Moreland – Funny
Johnny Cash – Truth and faith
Robert Earl Keen – Poet

4. Stories behind the following songs:
Red River Outlaw – I was angry at life and this is what I needed to say.
Stevie Ray and Jack – True story after a long night on the town, and a tribute to two big influences on musicians.
Highway 12 – I lived in San Marcos at the time but my family and job were in Austin and Ranch Road 12 was the connection between.
New songs from Roadside Theater:-
-(no title) – A celebration of how great life is and will be when we get there. We never really came up with a good title that would properly fit the song, hence ‘(no title).’
Better Way – Words to express that there is a chance to start over and succeed if you want it bad enough. A song that we feel people will really be able to identify with, it might even give someone who is currently struggling some hope.
Gravel Road – The struggles of life and finding the strength to overcome through faith.
Flatlands – A chance to finally express my feelings toward West Texas and the pride of being connected to it.
Another Time & Place – About a girl you want to be with more than anything but can’t because of certain circumstances. Was originally on ‘RRO’ but we wanted to give it another treatment on ‘Roadside’ because we feel that it’s just that good of a song.

5. Do you have a “real” job? If so, what is it?
Everyone in the band works full-time. Most of our jobs are construction related.

6. As a musician you’re bound to have some bad gigs along the way. Give us an example of a disastrous gig and an excellent one.
A bad gig would be any early show when we played for tips and beer – heavy booze and lyrics do not mix. A great gig for us was Antone’s just for the history of that place and our memories from playing there.

7. What was the first song you learned to play on the guitar?
Wild Thing – Jimi Hendrix

8. How much money did you make on your first gig? Where was it? How old were you?
Zero, nada, nothing! The show was at Touche on 6th Street, I was 21 and they gave us free drinks on Tuesdays (see answer #6).

9. Is your family supportive of your chosen career or do they wish you had gone a “safer” route?
Everyone wants his or her children to be happy and successful. Once my family saw how much it means to me, they couldn’t possibly be more supportive.

10. You get in some legal trouble and the judge sentences you to 5 hours of listening non-stop to one of the following: Tim McGraw, Toby Keith or Rascal Flatts or 5 weeks in jail. What do you choose?
If you have ever been to jail, you know the answer to this one.

11. Give us a favorite touring memory of the following towns/clubs.
Abilene – July 3, 2002 with Pat and 5000 of Abilene’s finest.
Austin – Antone’s always tops the list.
San Marcos –First cd release at Gordo’s.
New Braunfels – Saengerhalle with Brett Danaher on guitar.
Houston – Firehouse and a good band fight.
Dallas – Breaking down on the way to Adair’s.
Corpus Christi – Solo performance opening for the Derailers.

12. Top 5 influences on your music.
Johnny Cash, Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, James Hetfield

13. What’s the most gratifying thing that has happened to you as a result of being a musician?
Being able to help someone out or make them feel special just by giving them some of my time.

14. Who would be your dream co-writer? And dream duet partner?
Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris

15. Your lead guitar player, Kenny Grimes, is a veteran of the music business. Besides being one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen, he seems to be a very funny story teller. What’s the best one you’ve heard that you can share?
He does have some great ones, but part of what makes Kenny a good storyteller is how well he tells them. Unfortunately, they are just not as effective when they are written down and there isn’t a visual.

16. What are your favorite cover songs to do?
Used to Love Her – Guns N’ Roses
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

17. Rapid fire:
-Nirvana or Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam
Jack Daniels or Jim Beam – Jack
Southpark or Beavis & Butthead – Southpark
Corpus or Galveston – Corpus
Aikman or Staubach – Staubach
Simms or Applewhite – Applewhite

18. You’ve got a weekly gig at Nat’s Pub outside of Austin in Lakeway. Tell us how that’s going. Between you and Rusty Wier at the Saxon Pub every Thursday there is no reason for Austin area music fans to not get a good show every week.
It’s been going very well. There is a laid-back vibe and it’s a great atmosphere for songwriters. We wrote a few songs that will be on ‘Roadside’ just jamming at Nat’s.

19. Favorite George Strait song.

20. Compare/contrast the music you and your peers are making with the stuff that Nashville/LA is pumping out.
Nashville music is formulated to be radio friendly at the expense of soul. Sometimes, image is more important than quality. Our music is truth usually written from personal experience. We play hard, we party hard and we love what we do and no amount of green will ever change that.

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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