Some of the members of Matt Taul and Friends.
ALTON — Six experienced musicians who share a passion for well-crafted Americana songs with a country slant have formed Matt Taul and Friends, performing together for the first time at Jacoby Arts Center on Aug. 14.
Members include Godfrey-based singer and songwriter Matt Taul, who headlines the group and plays rhythm guitar, Matt McGibany on fiddle, Bob Oettle on lead guitar, Joe Cox on bass, Phil Waits on steel guitar and Scotty Robertson on drums.
“All of the guys in the group have been my friends for a long time,” Taul said. “I respect them all as people and musicians, so when I pitched the idea to them, they got on board.”
The group will perform music that has a classical country feel with some rock elements woven into the chord progressions as part of Jacoby’s Friday Nites Live! Series at 8 p.m. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Taul began writing music and lyrics in 1990 at the time he was playing with the roots rockers The Stubblefield Band. Once he started writing, however, he soon found himself scribbling lyrics and notes on scraps of paper while the other musicians jammed. Reflecting this new direction, Taul began performing solo or with smaller groups in 2000.
“I mostly write about my life experiences and try to present them in a way that is relatable, and all of the songs are pretty special to me in one way or another,” he said. “Great songs all have one thing in common and that is soul: I love songs that touch my heart and I try to write from my heart in hopes that I can touch someone in a meaningful way.”
Taul cites his main influences as singer-songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Jason Isbell and Robert Earle Keene as well as the legendary Jerry Garcia, noting that he equally admires these musicians as storytellers and poets.
The band will primarily perform songs pulled from Taul’s book of original music. The group also plans to debut a few new pieces to mark the evening.
“We’re really developing the performing arts options and creating a true destination in Alton to showcase extraordinary talent,” said Denny Scarborough, Jacoby’s president. “We’re hopeful that with the addition of the versatile Bankside Rep, as our resident professional acting troupe, the broad array of interesting exhibits expertly curated by Dee Kilgo, and the inclusion of Friday Nites Live! as part of our regular programming that we are defining Jacoby as a vibrant cultural center for the region.”
To round out the evening’s entertainment, Chez Marilyn will serve crab cake sliders with a balsamic-ranch house salad and a gooey butter brownie.
During August, the Jacoby Shop is offering a special 10 percent discount to the public, plus an additional 10 percent discount for members.
“August is a great time to browse our shop and take advantage of our once-a-year discount, which is our way of thanking the community and especially our members for their tremendous ongoing support,” Scarborough said. “The shop offers unique decorative as well as functional pieces of jewelry, pottery, glassware, fibers, wood, paintings and photography.”
An individual membership is $50 per year, and a family membership is $75 per year, with other tiers available. A members’ discount can be applied to classes and workshops.
“Next week, Jacoby will feature Just Sayin’ with Laurie Oyer, Lily Oyer and Mike Tice on keyboard, guitar and banjo performing vocal harmonies of original songs and pop standards from across the decades,” Scarborough said. “I’m excited that we can showcase so many talented artists representing such a wide variety of styles — this is what makes the series relevant and fresh.”
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10, and no reservation is required. Food and drink are available at an additional cost. For information, call (618) 462-5222 or visit www.jacobyartscenter.org.