Matt Brown is a musician, teacher, record label owner, podcast host, and record producer based in Louisville, Kentucky. His most recent credits include Michelle Billingsley's 2020 debut album Not the Marrying Kind (which he produced and played on at Narwhal Studios in Chicago), and Max Allard's 2020 singles "Grey Owl" and "Rooster" (which he produced and played on at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver).
In 2018, Matt was the executive producer of On Big Shoulders, a grant-funded Americana album that features 12 Chicago musicians playing 10 songs with links to The Windy City. The centerpiece of that album was a commissioned song by Chicago's favorite GRAMMY-nominated Americana songwriter Robbie Fulks. One life-changing surprise that came out of making that album was a burgeoning friendship with Chess Records artist Barbara Carr, whose song "Shake Your Head" On Big Shoulders covered on their debut album. Mrs. Carr made a special guest appearance at the On Big Shoulders release concert in Chicago, which later led to Matt producing a concert of her own, this time backed up by the On Big Shoulders core band, at SPACE in Evanston, IL in 2019. This concert occurred 50 years after Barbara Carr had recorded for Chess in Chicago, and her voice was as powerful as ever.
During his time in Chicago, Matt performed & recorded with the quartet Big Sadie. He also ventured down to Nashville in 2015 to record a duet album with Greg Reish entitled Speed of the Plow. That record was engineered & co-produced by 5-time GRAMMY-winner Dave Sinko (Punch Brothers, Béla Fleck, Hot Rize). Matt and Greg subsequently toured the country performing the album's collection of old-time tunes. Matt has also toured nationally as a soloist, with The Steel Wheels, with dance ensembles Rhythm in Shoes and Footworks, and has made guest appearances with GRAMMY-winner Tim O'Brien and GRAMMY-nominees Robbie Fulks, Special Consensus, and Della Mae. He has performed twice with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
Matt teaches online fiddle, banjo, and guitar lessons to students around the world. He regularly creates YouTube content in the form of performance videos as well as instructional ones. The bulk of the latter populate his free instructional banjo website twofingerbanjo.com, the first site of its kind devoted to that particular style of banjo picking.
Matt is also a Patreon creator. His patrons receive early or exclusive access to all sorts of content including tablature, video lessons, interviews, demo recordings, and more. To become one of Matt's patrons, you can sign up here for as little as $2/month. There are tiers ranging up to $50/month. That top level includes a private lesson with Matt each month in addition to all the other Patreon perks. The $2/month tier is for Relax Your Grid Superfans, who get exclusive content with each episode of the podcast as well as a sticker with the show's logo on it.
In the summers, Matt teaches at the Queen Bee Music Association’s Kids Bluegrass Camps in Crested Butte, CO and Santa Fe, NM, as well as at the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute near Salt Lake City, UT. He has been on staff at The Colorado Suzuki Institute, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, Strings by the Sea, Old-Time Week at The Swannanoa Gathering, Stephen Wade’s American Roots Music Program at Rocky Ridge, and Southern Week at Ashokan. He has taught fiddle workshops at Berklee College of Music, Swallow Hill Music, Morehead State University, The School For Strings, Music for Youth, and the Music Institute of Chicago. From the fall of 2011 until the spring of 2019, Matt taught fiddle, banjo, and guitar to students of all ages at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, and co-led their kids Fiddle Camp for several summers.
May 1st, 2022 | 1 hr 2 mins
nyckelharpa, polskas, swedish music, väsen
Matt talks to Olov Johansson of the Swedish supergroup Väsen about the band's brilliant originals, including those on their newest album Duo.
April 1st, 2022 | 1 hr 10 mins
banjo, camps, encores, laughter
Matt talks to GRAMMY-nominee Joey Ryan of The Milk Carton Kids about touring life, obligatory encores, and the two weeks that Joey spent as Robert Plant's banjoist.
March 2nd, 2022 | 53 mins 43 secs
Matt interviews bluegrass fiddler Bronwyn Keith-Hynes about her debut solo album Fiddler's Pastime, her years with Mile Twelve, and what it's like to be the reigning IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year.
February 1st, 2022 | 55 mins 25 secs
banjo, banjo summit, béla fleck
Banjoist, composer & educator Jake Schepps joins to talk about the Banjo Summit, a progressive 3-finger banjo workshop he leads for intermediate, advanced, and professional musicians.
January 1st, 2022 | 58 mins 8 secs
painting, piano, scorched aluminum
Matt Brown talks to visual artist Gregory Block about the connection between music and art, the creative addiction that drives him, and the absolute best time to listen to Trent Reznor.
December 1st, 2021 | 56 mins 51 secs
cello, scottish music
Cellist Natalie Haas joins Matt to discuss her acclaimed duo with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, a handful of their albums, and their beloved music camps around the world.
November 1st, 2021 | 1 hr 5 mins
banjo, clawhammer, old-time, round peak
Deemed a "banjo virtuoso" by the Washington Post, Adam Hurt has fused several traditional old-time idioms to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo style. In this episode, Adam talks to Matt about that oft-emulated approach and four of his albums.
October 1st, 2021 | 56 mins 46 secs
banjo, banjo summit, guitar, piano
Matt talks to banjoist, guitarist, pianist, and composer Max Allard about his forthcoming instrumental album Odes/Codes.
September 1st, 2021 | 1 hr 1 min
africa, banjo, fiddle, guitar, old-time
Matt catches up with old-time music icon Bruce Molsky. They talk about their shared history and Bruce's collaborations, teaching philosophy, and forthcoming guitar album.
August 1st, 2021 | 1 hr 8 mins
africa, banjo, ditches, grief, songwriting
Matt talks to Jayme Stone about a number of his projects, including his latest album aWake and Compose Your Career, a forthcoming course for independent musicians.
July 1st, 2021 | 53 mins 34 secs
365 days, dark country, everybody loves an outlaw, netflix, spotify
Matt Brown talks to Bonnie & Taylor Sims of the band Everybody Loves An Outlaw about how their hit song "I See Red" was made, went viral, and what happened next.
June 1st, 2021 | 51 mins 48 secs
guitar, modern dance-pop, old-time
Matt talks to Mark Harris about his groundbreaking debut album Old Time Guitar.
April 27th, 2021 | 1 hr 36 mins
bluegrass, old-time, tejano music
Greg Reish talks to Matt about how they met, their duo album, the Center for Popular Music, and his label Spring Fed Records.
April 1st, 2021 | 1 hr 1 min
country music, folk music, guitar, songwriting
Matt talks to Chicago-based country folk singer and musician Michelle Billingsley about her debut album which he produced.
March 1st, 2021 | 50 mins 18 secs
fiddle tunes, folk music, guitar, polskas, swedish, techno
Matt talks to Swedish musician Patrik Ahlberg about his album Gitarrlåtar (guitar tunes)