Matt Mays played an acoustic show on Oct. 30th at The Exchange, a multi-use performance space in Regina’s refurbished warehouse district. Opener Adam Baldwin set the tone with a half a dozen or so heartfelt songs which he said he has penned over the last six years. He regaled the sold-out crowd at The Exchange with a brief tale of the good times in Winnipeg the night before, which had left both him and Mays with little to no sleep.
Mays’ set was loose and fun. A few songs into his set he started a song but forgot the words. It could have been detrimental but Mays played it off in his casual style and the crowd was with him every step of the way. Essentially, Mays was making sure everybody in attendance was feeling good.
Whether or not Mays’ music is classified as folk music is beside the point, although he certainly does invoke some of the great standards of East Coast folk music storytelling throughout his prolific catalog of songwriting. Part of what pleases me the most about Mays — as an ex-pat nova scotian — is his lyrical content, and in particular his Nova Scotian name drops, from the mentions of Lawrencetown Beach to the flat-out dedication of songs like City of Lakes. He crafts songs like stories and that is as strong a folk music tradition as any.
Mays’ chops were on display early and he played a wide variety of songs from a catalogue that spans around fifteen years now. He played “Season to Leave” from his days in the roots-rock outfit The Guthries, as well as current hits “Indio” and “Take it on Faith,” these back-to-back hits both getting warm receptions. Surprisingly (to me and a friend in attendance) Mays did not play “Queen of Portland Street, but it was a great set in a relatively intimate setting. The Exchange, a place which is normally a bar with nowhere to sit, had seats set up for this show – about 120 in total. I’m not sure what capacity is at The Exchange but there was a full house for this show –nice to see for Regina on a Wednesday night. A four-star night, all told.