Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nathan Hicks Dulicmer


The photo (click to enlarge) is Nathan Hicks with his dulcimer c. 1935 from the front of "Beech Mountain Ballads" published by G. Shirmer in 1936. The mountain folk pronounced it "dul-ci-moor." This is probably my grandfather's dulcimer or another one just like it. It's a three string made circa early 1930s with the heart shaped cut-outs on the top. My father keeps it in the original bag with my grandfather's initials M.M. on it.

My grandfather Maurice Matteson used to play it in his ballad bagging concerts, so I figured I'd look at this dulcimer when I visited my folks during Christmas. When my father pulled it out of the bag I could tell the strings were very old- I'd say sixty or seventy years old. The frets are very short and can only be used to play one string- which is the bass string!

I couldn't tune the strings up without fear of damaging the instrument so I tuned it to G (melody string) then the second string G unison with the top string G an octave higher. It worked.

So I tried playing it- first with my finger to fret the strings, then with an emory board stick and lastly with half of an wooden clothes pin. The clothes pin worked the best. I didn't have a pick but I got one from Bob Hitchcock, my brother-in-law. I figured why not play some of Nathan Hicks songs and record them at Bob's little home studio. Kara Pleasants, my niece, loves to sing and Zach, my nephew, played the violin.

So I wrote out a couple of Hicks songs in G for Zach and we practiced a bit then recorded them the next morning. They did a gr8 job, so did Bob making the recording.

Here's one ballad: George Colon (collected in 1933 from Nathan Hicks):




Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm back- back in black- on the black top studio- going nowhere fast



Long time no post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The photo above was taken at my new studio!!! That's right- a parking lot on Payne Street in Louisville. I was driving to teach a lesson at Highland UMC and there was a marathon race being held- the roads were blocked off in every direction! I couldn't make it to my lesson. So it happened that my student Chris Sohl was stuck too, and he just happened to be stuck exactly where I was- we drove over to an adjacent parking lot and started picking!!!

This marks the annals of the most bizarre lesson I've taught and Chris, a very talented guy and gr8 sax player, took the photo above.

Thanks Chris!!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Heine Brothers Coffee


My students and I do a regular gig at Heine Brothers on Herr Lane in Westport Village.

Jen Dye sent me some vids of our last performance April 23-

Snow by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show:


WAGON WHEEL http://http//

Most of the songs I play with my students, they bring in the song they want to perform and the next week I have to learn it - haha! My band, Bluegrass Messengers, did a show with the Old Crow about 10 years ago in Winston-Salem- they are great, very popular too.

Coem out to the next Heine Brothers show featuring one of my bands and my students May 14th at 8:00 Westport Villiage- it's fun.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Kentucky Dance- Full view- Professional reproduction


On the left is the full-view of my new painting, Kentucky Dance (Click to enlarge). Hope you enjoy it. I've rekindled some of my interested in painting after taking off 6 months to do other things.


Kentucky Dance- Close up- professional reproduction


On the left (Click to enlarge) is a close-up of the dance and jam, the final professional reproductions of my new painting, Kentucky Dance. If you're interested in getting a copy- several people have expressed an interest- just email me at

At some point I'll go over the steps I took to create the painting and show you the original cabin in Kernersville, NC.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kentucky Dance

Hi, On the left is my finished painting, Kentucky Dance. (Click to enlarge) The cabin is actually from Kernersville NC.

My only regret is there's no banjo in the painting- haha

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bluegrass Messengers Schedule March 2011

Hey everyone,

Here's the new schedule for March 2011. Come on out and see a show. Bring your friends!

The March 12 show will feature my students and other band members of my various bands.


Friday March 4, 2011 8:00 Bistro 42; 6021 Timber Ridge Dr. Prospect, KY 40059 (502) 632-2552

Sun. March 6, 2011 at 6:00- 8:30 Bard's Town 1801 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (corner of Bardstown Rd and Speed Avenue)

Thursday March 10, 8:00- 11:00 Gerstles 3801 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY info 502-742-8616

Sat. March 12, 2011 at 6:00 Heine Brother Coffee (Herr Lane) Westport Village (Other performers 7:00) Call (502)290-5090

Sat. March 13, 2011 at 3:00 (Private perf) Belmont Village Of St. Matthews; 4600 Bowling Blvd. Louisville, KY 40207

March 17, 2011 7:00- 10:00 Gerstle's (St. Patty's Day) 3801 Frankfort Ave Louisville, KY
March 18th, 2011 8:00- 10:30 Pirate's Cove Charleston IN

Sunday March 20, 2011 Epworth UMC (5:30 dinner/evening show 6:00) Louisville, KY

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fiddler Magazine article out: Clayton McMichen- Early Years


On the left is my painting tribute to Clayton McMichen, "Pretty Little Widder." [click to enlarge]. The first part of my article Clayton McMichen: The early Years just came out in Fiddler Magazine. (Click to enlarge)

The article has interviews with Clayton's daughter Juanita (also Harry Bickle) and tells of his childhood, first band (Home Town Boys- with Lowe Stokes), up to the Skillet Lickers. It's a shortened version of my article which was about 25 pages long!! Hopefully they'll run the next part which features the last interview with Sim Byrant (who was 101 when I did a series of phone interviews with him), now deceased and the Louisville days with the Georgia Wildcats.

You can get info on picking up a copy from Fiddler Magazine:

McMichen moved to Louisville and was based here (in this area) for the rest of his life (around 1934 until 1970). He owned the Spring Street Bar and Grill a few houses away from my house on Spring St.

That's all for now,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Boring Night At Home


Everyone thinks I have an exciting life- playing music, writing books, doing research on the origins of songs, writing articles, teaching, doing artwork, researching performance and the subconscious mind etc. etc. etc.

It's time to look at the other side of a bluegrass picker, my home life. Here's a photo (Click to enlarge) of the little lady serving up a fresh plate of vittles- she sure likes to cook!!

After cooking up a hearty dinner she like to relax on the couch fer a spell. Here's another photo (Click to enlarge) of her- she sure looks a bit peaked after laboring in the kitchen all evening over a hot stove. Whew!

She's a good little woman, she can knit and sew my britches. I just wish she'd keep her shoes off the furniture (Click to enlarge). Here I caught her putting her foot on a chair!

Nothing much going on at the Matteson house tonight, that's for sure. Y'all come back now. Come on in anytime and set a spell. She can rustle up some vittles and I'll pick you a tune on my guitar. Hope she can keep her feet off the furniture!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Performance & The Subconscious Mind


On my DigiMusiCam blog
I'm writing a series of articles about performance- how to perform and develop you ability to perform.

The latest series of blog articles are titled, "Performance & The Subconscious Mind." I've done an interview with Judy Rees from London and hope to line-up some other interviews from leaders in the science of the mind and how it works.

Again- you can check them out here:

Till next time,

Richard Matteson

Monday, January 31, 2011

New 2011 Bluegrass Messenger Line-Up


On the left is our new Bluegrass Messengers line-up:

(Click to Enlarge)

(Left to Right) Rob Mitchum (Mandolin) Roz Carothers (Fiddle) Richard Matteson (Guitar- Vocals) Roger Miller (Banjo- Vocals) Jim Zils (Electric- Stand-up Bass) Mike Grissom (Dobro)

We've got some talent and more than that we love playing music. We have about two sets of songs and we are working on new songs that we will be adding shortly.

For info email me at

We'll be playing around Louisville. Our next gig is Feb. 12, 6:00 pm at Heine Brothers Coffee on Herr Lane in Westport Village.

Come on out and set a spell,


Friday, January 21, 2011

Sleepy Marlin Dies


The great fiddler Sleepy Marlin, who was featured in an article I wrote for Old-Time Hearld last May/June, died last night- Jan 20th- at the age of 95. On the left is a photo of Sleepy and me after an interview last Spring.

I talked to Jase Marlin tonight and he said Sleepy passed away last night. Jase and the Marlins are performing in Florida. Jase played mandolin with my group Bluegrass Messengers at the Sleepy Marlin Tribute concert on May 8, 2010. You can see us on youtube and also an interview with Sleepy:

There is a viewing for Sleepy at Coot's Funeral Home in Jeffersonville Feb. 1 between 2-8 and a mass will be held at St. Augustine Catholic Church on Feb. 2 at 10:00 AM.

Sleepy was great man and led an active life both as a father and a performer. He was a founding member of the Drifting Pioneers along with country Music legend Merle Travis in the 1930s.

TY Sleepy for all you've given us- see you again someday in the great bye-and-bye,


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year- New Videos


Happy New Year!!!!

I've done two sets of videos with two great singers promoting my new Mel Bay book, Acoustic Music Source Book:

Richard Matteson with Kara Pleasants
Wildwood Flower

Paul & Silas

Meet Me By the Moonlight

Scarborough Fair

Water is Wide

Richard Matteson with Jessica Kaster
Barbara Allen

In the Pines

Hop Along Peter

Ain't Gonna Lay my Armor Down