Field Notes

Back To My Roots

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some incredible musicians. I’ve seen amazing places, met some truly special people and I consider myself blessed to have been able to do what I love for a living.


As I wind down from touring and focus more on writing (and my design career) I’ve been able to enjoy the luxury of just playing music for fun. Not fun as in “on the side” but without any pressure – for the love of just playing. I’ve found that when music is just about having a great time and not about making a record, putting gas in the van or paying for the next tour it’s allowed me to love it more (and get better in the process). In my quest to just enjoy playing music again, I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with some of those amazing people I was talking about earlier.


Once every few months at the beautiful Inner Garden, Chris Assaad, Brian Macmillan, Layah Jane, Oliver Johnson and I get together to play an intimate concert in Toronto we call Grass Roots. At first, it was Chris who really just wanted us to get together and jam more regularly but since then it’s turned into this very cool, very inspiring community that we’ve built over the past two years. The idea is that we can try new tunes, let our guard down and play with the audience as opposed to for them. No showcases, no pressure and no rules except that everyone does their own short set and then we all come together for a tune at the end of each segment. Each event is a little different (we may or may not have made up hip-hop names one night #peppermintmatty) and it feels more like we’re hanging out with the crowd rather than playing a show where there’s this unnatural separation between “the artists” and “the audience”.


Everyone who shows up feels the love too. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback on the format and it turns out people who appreciate music are as sick of trying to hear in loud bars as I am playing in them. The BYOB rule doesn’t hurt either ;-)


I’ve always found that when I’m surrounded by great people it inherently makes me want to be a better person myself. Playing music with these guys has been such a joy and I can honestly say that I genuinely look forward to every gig. We challenge each other, encourage one another and we’re constantly looking for ways to be better musicians. That, in my opinion, is the way it should be.


Our next Grass Roots is on February 13th and if you haven’t been a part of event yet, I’d love to see you there. Here’s a rough sample of the magic that’s been known to happen at 401 Richmond.


Footsteps Tab

Hey guys!


Hope the world is treating you all well. I had a tab request on Facebook from Jeremy Becker for “Footsteps” and here she is! Feel free to write any questions in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


I made a little video explaining how to play the percussive ‘hits” in between notes. Check it out before you start into the tune.



FOOTSTEPS - Matt York (2005)

h = percussive hit of all the strings. 

Intro and Chorus



"I won't get in line…"

G|---2---h---5--h--4---h------4----(Repeat 3x)--7-----|


G|-----O------h----O---h---O---h---O-----O-----(Repeat 3x)|

D|------------h--------h--------h------x----h----x-----h----x-----h|  Back to Chorus.



A Beautiful Battle.

First of all, Happy New Year to all of you. 2011 was an amazing year for me, personally, and while it didn’t involve a whole lot of music, I had so many other opportunities that I’m incredibly thankful for. Your support, as always, gives me the freedom to explore when I need to, step away and take the time to focus on other things, like my design career.


I find that the beginning of a year causes me to sit down and formulate some sort of plan moving forward. Each year I try and set out to do things based on a few different criteria and they almost always revolve around a decision between focusing more time on music, or more time on my other creative endeavours. It’s cliche to say, but there’s only so many hours in the day and it’s hard to figure out how best to spend that time. I find myself in a wonderful dilemma; a beautiful battle, one that I’m sure many people would love to fight. I understand that I’ve been blessed, and this isn’t an invitation to a pity party but more of an explanation as to why my I’m not always pumping out singles or making new records.


I essentially have two jobs. I spend my days at an awesome design firm doing what I love to do. I get to be creative, strategize, think and make beautiful things for great clients. I’m also a songwriter; a musician and someone who needs to be creating music as much as I need to be sitting down with photoshop and designing a website. It’s a battle because I’ve always felt that spending half of my time on each love is a crutch, causing me to reach my desired level of success half as fast. One can argue that dedicating your life to something gives you a fighting chance at succeeding and there’s the 10,000 hour argument as well, but in all concience, I couldn’t imagine giving one up for the other. Each one, design and music, brings something unique to my life and in many ways they fuel each other in the most amazing way. Having time to be creative on a different medium than a guitar and a pencil let’s me move in a different direction and take a break so that when it’s time to sit down and write, I haven’t been thinking about writing all day. It would be like staring at a complex math problem all day. It’s only when you take a break and sleep on it that you can come back and approach it with “fresh eyes”, and solve it. For me, the time I have away from each love is equally as important as my time spent working on them.


The point of this wasn’t to make excuses for years between albums, because there are so many other factors that contributed to that like travel, funding, etc. It was to help you understand why I do what I do and where I go when I’m not making music. If I had the time and wanted to focus 100% of my time on music, sure, I’d have more albums and yeah I’d play more shows but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be happy. I’d be missing out on so much more of what keeps me going; what I get from being creative in front of a computer.


This year, the plan is to write, write and write some more. So far, there’s a bunch of songs that I’m excited about and tons more ideas that I’m working on now. I hope to have a new album out by the end of the year but at the very least, have a few new tunes to post on the site. Thanks for letting me do what I need to do and for staying excited along with me. I hope you have an incredible year and find a way to tackle you’re own aspirations in a way that fulfills and inspires you.


Embrace the beautiful battles and make the most of the things you’re so fortunate to have. If you’re like me, you’ll be glad you did.