Worn-in road map, vintage convertible and Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz CDs: necessary ingredients for your summer road trip. As you slide the car top down and slip on your aviator sunglasses, pop in these guys’ music. Dave’s acoustic soul paired with Matt’s acoustic pop guarantees a good time. Dave and Matt have been friends for a few years and recently joined together to play for sold-out crowds from Texas to Tennessee. Their humor is infectious and their charm refreshing; they never meet a stranger. Dave, drummer-turned-guitarist, didn’t intentionally pursue a full-time music career; opportunities just arose in college. Likewise, Matt never studied music, but instead eased into it. Their first audiences were their college dorm rooms.
What sets them apart from other musicians? Their songs are heartfelt and identifiable. They believe in what they sing. Dave has seen how music has become a performance, instead of a creation and a channel of communication. He strives to remain true to the art and distant from prepackaged music. The newly released album Brother, Bring the Sun achieves that goal. Dave’s bluesy style is evident in “Grace’s Amazing Hands,” a song that compares the love a woman has for a man to the love Christ has for us. Originality is most apparent in “The LA Song,” a story of the vulnerability in romance. Matt has finally found contentment in his new CD, Twenty-three Places. In contrast to his first release, Somedays, Matt believes in and loves each track on the new album. “Falling off the Face of the Earth” describes Matt’s struggle between a personal life and life on the road. “Marianne” has a more upbeat tempo and the sound of a radio single.
Handling writer’s block is two different concepts to these boys. Matt journals song titles and verses as he runs across them to spur lyric ideas. He tries not to worry about the temporary void and sees it as an opportunity to be open to more thoughts. The inability to write drives Dave crazy. He keeps himself busy to not allow the creative part of his brain to develop stage fright; instead, making that part of his mind crave attention.
Misconceptions about Christian musicians are prevalent; however, Matt and Dave believe they are the same as the world’s misconceptions of Christians in general. Unbelievers have expectations of who a Christian should be; artists simply receive more criticism, and judgments are amplified due to the fact they are on stage and are expected to live a life above par. But musicians are human too. They make mistakes, and they have doubts and reservations. Matt safeguards against his music becoming an idol, especially to him. Dave fears the possibility that his music may become irrelevant to an audience.
The music industry is also a scary thing for these guys. Throughout their career, they have had the freedom to make decisions and control what paths they take, including their degree of success. The prospect of signing a label or committing to a specific industry would limit that freedom and decide to which degree they succeed and for how long they would stay on the market. Managing success is a difficult task and can be more hazardous than the thought of failure.
Dave and Matt’s fans are of obvious importance. The exhilaration of playing to a live audience who knows and loves their music is unparallel to anything else, including opening for larger, more prominent acts. After shows, Dave and Matt do more than sign autographs and pose for pictures. They communicate and connect. They’re the guys next door and your best friends. They don’t think they’re superior to contact with the fans; they realize the fans are supporting them and have gotten them to where they are today.
Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz offer an eclectic mix of raw soul and passionate pop. They live their lyrics and breathe their beats. These rhythms provide a breath of fresh air and ensure a summer of smooth listening as the wind blows through your hair.