Name: Mathew Dixon
Age: turns 36 this month (likes to celebrate his birthday month, not just the day.)
Born: San Diego, CA
Lives: New Braunfels, TX
What brought you from San Diego to New Braunfels in 2004?
Everybody asks me that (lol)! There were a number of reasons- but the biggest factor was that my wife Shannon and I just fell in love with the rivers and the town, and the people.
How long have you been playing music?
Well, I started studying guitar 23 years ago, but I don't know if I would say I have been playing that long. You see- I wasn't a very good student. I didn't practice like I should have. In fact, after about the first 6 months, my teacher told my mom she was wasting her money on my lessons. So I stopped lessons for awhile.
What exactly do you like to call your style of music?
Great question! The truth is, I'm not really a Flamenco guitarist. I play what is called Rumba/Modern Flamenco. It is much more pop/smooth Jazz sounding. Traditional Flamenco guitar usually accompanies a dancer. I meet lots of people that pronounce my style of playing as "Flamingo guitar", when I hear that I always smile and think of a guitarist dressed in pink and standing on one leg. (Laughing) It's a hard word to enunciate if you have never heard of it before.
Explain your training and background.
I have been really fortunate to have privately studied with a handful of amazing guitarists. The one that influenced my playing the most would be my friend and mentor Mike Sherman- who now performs and does session work in Nashville. Mike not only taught me how to play guitar, I feel that he taught me to be a musician.
How much of your talent is God given ability vs. practice and hard work? Can anyone do what you do?
When I started, I thought that God given ability meant it was real easy for you. So I figured I had none. But now I've come to believe that God given ability has more to do with helping you push on through and keep practicing and keep striving to get better. So I would say 100%.
Where have we seen you perform in NB?
That would be a long list! I have been performing all over the Hill Country for the last 6 years. In New Braunfels I have performed at Water 2 Wine, Gourmage, Gruene River Tea Room, and the Kork Wine Bar. I have performed numerous private/corporate, non-profit, house concerts and wedding events. The list is endless. I have even performed for the Comal ISD at Canyon High School. Performing for the Comal ISD was really amazing! There were over 1000 people present to hear my music, pretty exhilarating for a solo guitarist!
What type of gigs do you enjoy the most?
Two things I really enjoy, one is playing outside in a really beautiful location, and the second has a lot to do with the audience and their energy. I most enjoy being background ambience for something like a cocktail hour or private event. I like people mingling and enjoying my music in the moment.
What is the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you while performing.
Oh, I'll never forget this. I was in a duo at the time playing for a dinner party. I set my guitar down behind me, not realizing that the cable had ended up underneath the stand of my second guitar. The cable pulled the stand and LAUNCHED the guitar into orbit, it came crashing down onto a rock/concrete floor. All eyes turned to me as the room went silent...All I said was "that was not part of the show", and my partner just started laughing. The good news was the guitar was fine (thank god!!!).
What is the best compliment you have ever received?
I had a fan tell me that she chose to play my CD while she was in labor. She said the music was calm and soothing. I was very honored!
What are some of your musical influences?
Musical influences seem to change and morph from genre to genre and age- depending on what you are studying at the time. They include: U2, Van Halen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica (Master of Puppets to In Justice for All), Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Primus, Bob Marley, and Ottmar Leibert; the list goes on. Some of my most favored artistic talents in music include, Frank Zappa, Jean-Luc-Ponty, Mr. Bungle (or anything from Mike Patton) and Mike Keneally. I once heard that a guitarist's personal style comes from failing to sound like someone they are copying. I don't know if that's true, but it makes sense to me when I think of all the different music I've played.
What do you listen to in your free time?
I like Jack Johnson, Ottmar Liebert, Gipsy Kings, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Seger, U2, Nick Drake, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Marley and Radiohead.
Who will you pay money to see perform live?
I try not to miss Guy Forsyth when he hits town. I like to see Ottmar Liebert. I've never seen the Gipsy Kings. I would like to see them. Jack Johnson would be cool. And if they ever get back together, Oingo Boingo.
Tell us about the instruments you play.
The one big difference in playing Modern Flamenco, is that the guitar is crafted and made specifically for Nylon strings. Although the Nylon string guitar most often referred to as a classical guitar looks like a normal acoustic guitar, it tends to be much more delicate than a steel string acoustic. The different construction, woods, and strings produce a soft balanced sound that almost gives the guitar a romantic tone. For live performances, I always use my Takamine. It has a pickup and tuner built into the guitar so I don't have to mic myself. For the studio, I use a hand-made Fransisco Navarro. I did, however, just get on the waiting list to have a guitar built for me by master luthier Lester DeVoe. He is in such demand the wait is 3 years before he can even start construction. The best Flamenco players in the world use his guitars.
What is the perfect setting that you envision for people to enjoy your music.
A peaceful and beautiful location that would allow for good conversation, good food, good vibes, and good times!
How many albums have you recorded and where can we find them?
I have 2 CD's. My first album, Changes, you can download at almost all sites ( itunes etc.)
Or you can order a hard copy from CD Baby. My second CD, One Winters Night- Sounds of a Flamenco Christmas, I have been selling direct from mathewdixon.com. I also have free downloads on my facebook page.
Besides performing, what else are you involved with?
Well, lets see...I have a recording studio in my house that I have used to record my CD's. Currently, I have been producing a very gifted singer/songwriter and New Braunfels local, Ron Brietzke. I also give private lessons. Once a week I make a special trip to Wimberley for a lesson with best selling author, and star of the movie The Secret, Dr. Joe Vitale. He's a great student, and has a very rare collection of wonderful guitars (that) he is gracious enough to let me play. When I'm not teaching, playing, or recording, I'm working on my new website called Guitar Monks.
Explain the concept of your new website Guitar Monks.
Guitar Monks is the result of 15 years of private teaching and building a solid supplemental curriculum for students to use whether they take lessons or choose to teach themselves. It starts as if you just picked up the guitar for the first time and know nothing. Guitar Monks first lesson is: THE FIRST 3 CHORDS YOU HAVE TO KNOW!, and I am building from there...In fact, if any of your readers play or are thinking of playing guitar, I just posted Guitar Monks-Seven Secrets To Learn Guitar Fast! And it's free.
What's the most important lesson you have learned over the years?
Just to always have fun, and be grateful that I get to play guitar for a living.
Alright, so where can we catch you perform this summer?
I have a lot of gigs booked- but most are private. No matter how busy I get, I try to make it out to play Water 2 Wine at least once a month. I'll be there May 22, that way my friends and family can come see me. Plus I love Kelly, Gerry and Drew. They are great people and the wine is great!