Ten years after the release of his breakthrough album, Live at Stubb’s (which reached #1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart), Matisyahu has again returned to the well-known Texas venue to record Live at Stubb’s III: A 10-Year Journey. The result is a picture of artistic evolution, filled with the kind of texture a performer only acquires after years on the road, gathering myriad life-experiences and exploring new musical influences.
From 2005 to 2015, Matisyahu’s artistic and personal transformation has been nothing less than epic. Achieving early success as a “hasidic reggae superstar,” he later went on to craft a broader, multi-influence, cross‐genre musical style that broke all the rules, bringing him greater success and an equal amount of criticism from early fans. Having survived the backlash from the die-hard reggae set, as well as those who saw him only as a “bearded Jewish icon,” Matisyahu released Akeda (Uh-kay-duh) in 2014, his most creative, “self-reflective and purely conceived album” to date.
Now, with Live at Stubb’s III: A 10-Year Journey, Matisyahu reveals yet another side to his musical personality. Whereas the original Live at Stubb’s (2005) produced “a classic of live performance,” and Live at Stubb’s II (2011) the “super-charged concert experience at it’s best,” Live at Stubb’s III: A 10-Year Journey (2015) delivers the “no additives” beauty of a stripped-back sit-down show in which the musicians play just for the love of the music.
Recorded at the legendary Stubb’s in Austin, Texas, on March 7th, 2015 (just over ten years after the original February 19th, 2005 performance, with supplementary tracks recorded on March 4th, 2015 at New York City’s Winery), Matisyahu reunited with three friends from his days at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York and the early years—guitarist Aaron Dugan (who performed on the original Live at Stubb’s album); keyboardist, Rob Marscher; and percussionist, Tim Keiper.
Like a rare “bootleg recording of Bob Dylan singing in a smoke-filled club in the early 60s,” Matisyahu’s performance in Live at Stubb’s III has the simple sound and appeal of “a great poet-musician on open mic night.” Together with Dugan, Marscher and Keiper, Matisyahu “soaks in the music and allows it to take its own twists and turns,” which he often accompanies with his signature beat-boxing. Opening with a “deep, soulful,” tone-setting performance of “Crossroads” from Spark Seeker, Matisyahu performs songs from each of his albums, from Shake Off the Dust…Arise (2004) to Akeda (2014). Notable on the album are newly interpreted versions of songs from the original Live at Stubbs like, “Lord Raise Me Up,” “Close My Eyes,” “Warrior,” and “King Without a Crown” as well as a cover of Bob Marley’s “Running Away,” into which he blends his own, “Dispatch the Troops.”
As part of the 10th anniversary of Live at Stubb’s, Matisyahu and his band featuring Dugan, Marscher, and Keiper will be out on the road performing a series of intimate sit-down shows highlighting the songs on Live at Stubb’s III: A 10-Year Journey.
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