Striking Matches have only just been brought to my attention but have done big things for the last few years. Their music was picked up by Frankie Pine for the TV series Nashville which really put them on the map and they are regulars at the Grand Ole Opry.
They are the real deal. It seems they met at Nashville’s Belmont University in 2007, on a guitar seminar, and Sarah’s ability at bottleneck guitar sealed the pairing. They play a very guitar driven, often blues-haunted version of country. A country, influenced by contemporary rock (if you will).
Before the show started the stage looked a bit spartan, two microphones and a big background banner. However when Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmerman stepped on stage, gave us a friendly greeting in a Southern drawl, and launched into ‘Trouble Is As Trouble Does’ everything else became superfluous. Their vocal harmonies were perfection and the way they duet on guitar is a joy. They let us hear how ‘Hanging On A Lie’ should be sung then apologised to Buddy Holly fans before giving ‘Raining In My Heart‘ the Striking Matches treatment. No need to apologise, the result was superb!
We were voyeurs at two friends showing off to each other and their joy at that playing was lighting up the stage. They have a very physical approach to playing and at one point Justin cracked the face of his instrument and cut his hand; he never missed a beat.
It always disappoints me when artists try to interact with their audience, swearing seems obligatory and most come across as socially awkward. Tonight we had two young gifted people who seemed to be revelling in the barracking from the Glasgow crowd. Sarah got the crowd onside by revealing her Scottish heritage and Justin invented a Scottish lineage on the spot. The spaces between songs were as much a part of the show as the songs themselves.
Òran Mór is perfect for this type of intimate performance. It ended much too soon with the old Elvis Presley number ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ in tight harmony and telepathic guitar. Their newly released CD, Nothing but the Silence is available on iTunes.
Striking Matches took the Glasgow audience, tickled its tummy and made it purr. They are touring again in November and you should definitely catch them when they return.