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{Off The Cuff} Mattson Rainer

You got Mattson on the radio
Playing Robert Earl and Billy Joe
I love you even more than I love Texas
~Slaid Cleaves

You know you’re kind of a big deal when a songwriter like Slaid Cleaves drops your name in a song. Mattson Rainer just marked his 20th year at KNBT in New Braunfels and was honored when he heard his name mixed in on Cleaves’ newest album.

“I remember Robert Earl Keen was one of the first artists to drop a DJ’s name in a song when he sang about “Sleepy John” during I’m Coming Home to You,” said Mattson. “I thought I hope I’m a cool enough DJ that someone puts me in a song someday. Slaid is such a respected artist. It was great. I look at it as a fun thing. I don’t try to take anything too seriously.”

One thing Mattson, who serves as general manager and program director at KNBT, does take seriously is music and he makes it a point to stand up for artists and music he believes in while not letting the business side of music affect his passion.

“I just love music and I always have...”

“I just love music and I always have…”

“I’m a fan first. No matter how many laminates I’ve been given, how many times I’ve been backstage or how many tour buses I’ve hung out on, I’m a fan and I will not allow business to disrupt it. Ultimately at the end of the day, the one thing that just gets me going is a great song. Besides, being a DJ is a lot better than getting a real job,” Mattson joked.

Mattson has gained a solid reputation as an advocate for quality music and its fans, “An artist will respect you a lot more if you’re just honest and tell them that they have a little more to work on before you can play their stuff on air. I also get what it means to be a fan. I understand how fans love to get autographs, get to a show early to get a spot right in front of the stage and take pictures with the artists. I remember what that feels like.”

Mattson has been very vocal on Twitter about the Texas music needing more originality and boldness. He’s tweeted that fans are bored and complacent and that artists need to stop trying to be the next Robert Earl Keen and add some of their own originality to their music. He went on a rant in January and picked up more followers in an hour than he’s picked up since he’s joined the social media site, so he’s definitely on to something.

“I remember that twitter rant,” he said. “I was flying to New York City and I hate flying so I think that was a combo of flying combined with scotch. It was full of emotion.”

Mattson points out that country music is the only form of music that has never split into different categories. It’s still one thing. Other genres have slow jazz and classic rock, but country music is still just country music.

He points out that Tim McGraw and Dale Watson, who are both categorized as country artists, couldn’t be more different, so maybe there is a need to recategorize country music.

"It's just a matter of staying the course and being honest with both artists and fans."

“It’s just a matter of staying the course and being honest with both artists and fans.”

“Maybe we should split up country so that we could have Top 40s Pop Country, Texas Country and the Americana Country that deals more with the singer songwriter acoustic music,” he said. “After saying all of that, I do have to say that the music I’m playing right now is the best it’s ever been. I get amazing CDs sent to me all the time. That’s what keeps me passionate. When I get a Sean McConnell or Josh Weathers CD, I know that everything is OK with the world.”

Mattson, who recently switched to the early morning shift at the station, remains in his “fan shoes” while picking the music to play on KNBT.

“It really comes down to “does this song make me want to turn the volume up from 7 to 24,” he said. “When I first listened to Sean McConnell’s “Lie Baby Lie,” I started it at a low volume and I couldn’t turn it up enough. It’s not that complicated. Those are the slam dunks. You put it on and you know it’s awesome.”

"...the music I’m playing right now is the best it’s ever been."

“…the music I’m playing right now is the best it’s ever been.”

Mattson will be the emcee for Greenfest 2013 on July 27-28 and he’s more than impressed with the lineup…
“It’s a great line up with a bunch of great guys,” he said. “Sometimes the problem with being in the music business so long is that you start to like someone more or less based on how well you know them and what you know about them, but this lineup is made up of all good guys, making great music.”

Ray Wylie Hubbard, Cody Canada, Tom Gillam, Walt Wilkins, Seth James and Wade Bowen.

{Mattson called me back right after the interview and asked me to list these names at the end of the story so his friends could see their name in print.}

47 Responses to “{Off The Cuff} Mattson Rainer”

  1. Tom Strickler July 17, 2013

    What a wise, wise man! God bless Mattson!


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  2. Don Phillips July 17, 2013

    I am proud to be his father-in-law. Go get-em Mattson, Love you. Don Phillips-Shreveport, La.


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  3. I was lucky enough 7 years ago to find KNBT 92.1 FM. The programming, the music, the staff are really all above par. Mattson through 92.1 has done so much for not only the musicians , but also for the City of New Braunfels, and the surrounding community. He is tireless in his pursuit of ways to contribute to harmony musically and socially. We mere mortals are blessed that he is who he is and does what he does. I hope it lasts forever, keep ’em coming sir.


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  4. Great interview for a great man! Thanks for all that you do Mattson!


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  5. I feel blessed to live in the same town that knbt lives and to hear the music Mattson intruduces us to. You’re the man!


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  6. TX Music Jim July 17, 2013

    Matson you have hands down the best station in the state. Much respect !


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  7. Mo-Ark July 17, 2013

    Nice article! Since finding and tuning-in to KNBT two years ago (listening from S.E. MO/N.E. AR), there is NO other radio station for me As a matter of fact, other stations just piss me off! Keep on keeping on, Mattson.


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  8. Mattson July 17, 2013

    I can cut the love in this room with a knife. I’m humbled fellow music lovers.


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  9. The only thing I don’t like about Mattson is…that there aren’t more of him! Keep on keepin on!


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  10. Super Dave July 17, 2013

    This station turned me on to some good stuff I’ve never heard anywhere else.
    I get those 213 blues every time I have to head back home…


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  11. Adam Odor July 17, 2013

    love my Mattson!


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  12. Being motivated by love of music vs. love of money is a rarity nowadays. Mattson displays it with pride. He is an ORIGINAL ! ! !


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  13. Shana Greco July 17, 2013

    Congratulations Mattson! Keep those Uncle Lucius tunes coming. Your the best!


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  14. Carl Dunn July 17, 2013

    I seldom comment publicly about anything but I think that for music, especially Texas Music, to grow it’s people like Mattson Rainer who are passionate and extremely loyal to all of the young Texas Musicians who work so hard at their craft, to have his unconditional support. Thanks Mattson


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  15. Mattson and what he’s does with KNBT is one of the main reasons I pursued a career in radio. I remember reading the liner notes of from my favorite band’s CDs and seeing his name in the thank yous, thinking “I hope one day someone will have that same respect for me.” Five years in it and I still love what I do, my parents have even stopped asking when am I going to give up radio and get a real job. Thanks, Mattson.


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  16. Walt used to tell me before I knew Mattson that we would like one another. He was right. Mattson is the man. He makes me love music more than I already do, if that’s even possible. Here’s to Mattson who’s done more for this music than anyone. Anyone. I’m proud to know him. It never sucks on the radio dial in New Braunfels, Texas. Not eva.


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  17. Mattson July 18, 2013

    You all are too kind. Gracious thanks.


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  18. You are the man with the B—- One day we will meet. I look forward to hearing my stuff on your time slot.

    Back In Luckenbach
    A Songwriters Journey


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  20. Mattson is the real deal. Always has been. He’s a fan first and knows the scene. As someone mentioned in a earlier post, he’s in it for the love of music first. Great guy all around.


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