ACE Spotlight – Will Matthews
The truth is, I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Will Matthews. I knew he had been playing in the area for a while but our paths had never crossed. My recent opportunity to meet Will in person was during his first gig with a new band, the Vaqueros, at a bar in Potrero, Costa Rica. Hearing him play, I was impressed by his country roots from the get-go.
It turns out Will has been in Costa Rica for about four years, and ended up here for the same reasons many of us did. Here’s what he told me about his life and the journey that led him here.
“I left the corporate world
to play music and
haven’t looked back.”
Why Costa Rica and will you stay?
I’m originally from Canada — mostly around the Toronto area in Ontario. I moved to Costa Rica in 2014 after spending two weeks here and loving it. I returned to Canada, sold all my stuff and moved to Playas del Coco seven weeks later. I lived and played in Coco for two years — I was the house musician at Coconutz during that time and played several other spots. Two years ago I moved to the Surfside area and started to play more in Tamarindo, Surfside and Potrero. Next year will be my 10th year playing music as a full-time job, and also the 10th anniversary of my first CD release. I left the corporate world to play music and haven’t looked back.
I immediately fell in love with Costa Rica. I was running from the cold and loved the climate, the people and the beaches. Along the coast, there are great groups of locals and expats who love music and support the local music scene, which we are super-fortunate to have in this area. That’s due in large part to all the venues that book a wide variety of acts. Kudos to all of them and everyone who comes out to support us! I love Costa Rica, so yes, I do hope to live here for the foreseeable future … to continue developing my music skills and become more involved in community activities.
What are your musical influences and instruments played?
I have a huge variety of musical influences, from classic country to electronic music. I like to compose and write songs, with and without words. I compose and record meditation and relaxation music in my home studio, and I also write and record instrumental surf rock. But almost all of my public gigs are with me singing and playing guitar, both solo and with my band, Vaqueros de la Noche. I play many other instruments, including harmonica, trombone and piano, and a few others. Big influences include Willie Nelson — he is an amazing guitar player — and the Doors; “L.A. Woman” is one of my top five albums because of its gritty blues-rock feel. Keith Richards, Walter Becker, the Band, the Ventures, Neil Young, Stone Temple Pilots and Avicii are others.
How would you describe a typical show?
My shows are typically a mix of my own songs and cover songs. I cover everyone from Johnny Cash to Lady Gaga. I enjoy presenting the cover songs with my own interpretation and get a lot of positive feedback from my take on classic tracks. My own songs also get a good response, and crowd favorites like “Coffee Cream Blues,” “Weight of the Night” and”Monster” get requested often. Every show is different — I never play the same set list twice — and I can take a lot of requests right off the floor. That helps draw people into the show and get involved. When people make requests, you know they are listening.
Will has an authentic vibe and country sound. I was impressed by his wide range of styles from Steppenwolf and Chris Isaak to Led Zeppelin and Eddie Rabbitt, and by his own original songs.
Will’s show makes for a great night out. He plays regularly at Coconutz in Coco, and a few spots in Tamarindo, plus any private gigs that come along.
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