Matt Suhar died yesterday March 16th. It should become a holiday. No music allowed to be played.
He drove to Austin Texas in 1992 to attend SXSW and wanted to meet me (I was playing a place called the velvet something or other) because his old band, The Blind Venetians, used to cover a song of mine “Older Brother”. He brought me to Chicago a few months later setting up 6 performances just in Chicago and the beginning of our ever since relationship with him booking & managing. It was understood wordlessly if my ship ever came in he would be at the helm.
He brought me back to tour the midwest 7 times. One time in Chicago he took my band-mates sightseeing. Took us to the John Hancock observatory (or was it the Sears tower?) and informed the staff in his impromptu way that we were Canadian filmmakers just checking out the observatory for a future film-shoot, “it’s okay you can waive the admission fee they’re just researching”. His demeanor suggested if they played their cards right there might be a cameo in it for them. We happily enjoyed the view and the many trips in his unlocked station wagon to Jim’s grill (Amitabul). As a gift we brought him one time to Canada to come along as we toured several cities in British Columbia. He was astonished and nurtured by the trip. *As much as he was everything people have written (*Facebook – fans of suhar), he was also someone in love with discovery, new places and new customs.
One time Matt brought Jay Bennett to my solo show, introduced us, nice enough guy… just prior to him being in Wilco. A few years later I was touring with Ron Sexsmith in a large moving festival that include Sheryl Crow, Tragically Hip, Wilco Ron & Van Allen Belt. Jay recognized me and the next thing you know Wilco invited me to sit in each night on a song and play a solo. Matt at work again.
Been in some remarkable performing situations over the years – played on Letterman, on Johnny Carson, acted with Meryl Streep in the final scene of Postcards From The Edge. Sometimes journalists will ask what was the most nervous gig you ever did? There is only one answer. Matt asked me to play “Here Comes The Bride” at his wedding – on accordion. I agreed not realizing the pressure. You can ordinarily make a mistake or too when it is your set but suddenly then and there among the families and special couple – the severity of the situation hit me. It’s his wedding and I am not a wedding musician. I am possibly going to ruin his wedding. Fortunately the wedding gods did not want to remember a tritone version and it all went right, nascent credentials intact.
Matt told me to have kids because when your wife is pregnant “it’s amazing you’re going to love that woman like you never knew what love is”. He also tried to convince me to go on crazy talk shows that are filmed in Chicago just because he knew some producers and he thought all publicity is good publicity. “You just wear a t-shirt that says Bob Wiseman on it and whatever you talk about doesn’t matter because you’re Bob Wiseman musician and millions of people find out about ya” He brought us to Chicago one time to play NYE in the 90s opening for Dream Syndicate and Wesley Willis was there who later head butted me, his way of saying he liked me. When I was down 13 years ago after a relationship break-up, Matt drove up and hung out with me for a few days. Like he drove from Chicago to Toronto.
He showed me Kim Chee and Wrigley field and Specimen Products. Made me buy a cb radio from radio shack to keep up with the Drovers when we toured with them as the opener. Of course he couldn’t resist taking the handset and spontaneously inventing codes that annoyed nearby truckers who threatened him if he didn’t get off the air. Edie Brickell told me years ago when she met Bob Dylan he gave her advice about being in this business – find a good friend or two and keep them close. That was saint Matt Suhar for me.
Farewell beautiful man. If your children should ever become interested in climbing the unnaturally steep mountain that is a livelihood through music there will be a long line of your mates vying to help lift their amplifiers or change their guitar strings.
click here to see the Blind Venetians cover of Older Brother