Matt Mays: Live in Vienna, VA

Matt Mays - Vienna, VA

Last Thursday was the final day of summer for 2018, so what better way for the season to bow out than with some live music, courtesy of Matt Mays and his band, who wrapped up their current US tour at Jammin’ Java.  Playing to an intimate, yet lively and supportive crowd, Matt was joined on stage by a stellar supporting cast comprised of Adam Baldwin (guitars/vocals), Ryan Stanley (guitar), Leith Fleming-Smith (keyboards), Serge Sampson (bass) and Damien Moynihan (percussion).  For both long-time fans or casual music observers in attendance, Matt Mays would not disappoint anybody with the quality of music performed on this particular night.

Having already toured his 2017 “Once Upon a Hell of a Time” album in the US earlier this year, and with his follow up release still a month away, Matt unleashed a phenomenal set list of popular hits from across his extensive musical career.  With a highly energetic twelve track performance, the fully engaged audience at Jammin’ Java would also be rewarded with an extra pair of tunes to close out the night.  Launching immediately into “Tall Trees,” the first of three cuts performed from his 2008 “Terminal Romance” album, I was immediately in awe (as a self-confessed ‘cool’ guitar geek) of the trio of classic Rickenbacker guitars being adorned by Mays, Baldwin and Sampson.  Matt would rotate between two electric guitars for the first five tunes, before determining that he wanted to show his trusty vintage acoustic guitar some love. “I bought this guitar when I was nineteen years old, twenty years ago,” stated Mays, as he took time to retune after performing the recent track “Drive On.”  “It’s nice to have it back on the road … I haven’t toured with it in ages and [felt] like, life’s way too short to not play my favourite guitar, you know.”  Matt’s tour manager would mention to me later that night that he too was glad to see Mays embracing the acoustic more over the last two shows, stating, “Matt is really into the performance when he picks up this one, and it sounded great in this room tonight.”

Following a great semi-acoustic rendition of “The Plan,” the band would raise the tempo once again to deliver an outstanding version of “Travellin’;” a track that allowed Leith Fleming-Smith his moment in the spotlight with a lengthy and exhilarating organ solo. With his well deserved applause at the close of the song, an audience member would holler “Nova Scotia musician of the year,” both out of respect for what was just observed, and acknowledgement of Fleming-Smith’s recent nod for this prestigious award.  “Yeah, there’s a bit of weirdness in the band these days, guys,” joked Mays in response, “I mean, lucky for me that two of the members of this band have been nominated for Music Nova Scotia awards in the same category, so it’s been a little tense lately.”  With a quick sequence of grins between Mays, and the two musicians in question, Moynihan and Fleming-Smith, the crowd fed off this energy and camaraderie between band-mates.

With a sequence of popular tracks during the latter half of the show, including both “Indio” and “On The Hood,” the show would ultimately close with the eight minute plus epic, “Terminal Romance.”  Exiting the stage to a chorus of cheers and applause, Matt and co. would naturally return for an encore.  Expressing his appreciation of the reception received on this tour by his US fans, Matt offered up “City Of Lakes” as the first encore number, dedicating the song to both his and Adam’s home town of Dartmouth, NS.  And in closing out the evening, Matt’s band would knock out a cover of a track from Canadian rockers, The Band, and their track, “Don’t Do It.”  A classic Canadian track covered here by some incredibly talented Canadian musicians of the modern era, this fourteen track set-list of music made for a fantastic end to the summer of 2018.  With the forthcoming release of “Twice Upon a Hell of a Time,” rest assured that Matt Mays will be back out on the road in an acoustic concert series very soon.

Matt Mays Set List:

  1. Tall Trees
  2. Where Am I Going?
  3. Stoned
  4. Station Out Of Range
  5. Faint Of Heart
  6. Drive On
  7. The Plan
  8. Travellin’
  9. Indio
  10. Building A Boat
  11. On The Hood
  12. Terminal Romance


  1. City Of Lakes
  2. Don’t Do It (The Band cover)


The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

Tags from the story
0 replies on “Matt Mays: Live in Vienna, VA”