Ames will be welcoming award-winning blues musician Matt Andersen, who will be accompanied by Americana folk artist Monica Rizzio. They will be performing 8 p.m. Friday at the M-Shop.
An alluring performer, Andersen said sharing music is a big part of his life and is something he was found doing around his home even before he started to tour full-time.
“I try to bring that same vibe to my shows," Andersen said. "That feeling of comfort that comes from being with good friends. I find that the more relaxed we all are, the better the show is."
Andersen is a well-awarded artist, having received a number of honors over the years. These include a few awards from the East Coast Music Association, such as Male Solo Artist of the Year and Blues Recording of the Year.
Andersen credits his motivation to keep making music to his need to create.
“I still love making and performing music," Andersen said. "If I ever lose that, I'll know it's time to quit. The biggest charge for me is that I've completely let go of worrying if people will like what I do. Letting that go has been the best thing for my music."
On his latest tour, Andersen is promoting his recent album, “Halfway Home by Morning,” released earlier this year in March. Channeling a vintage type of energy, this album contains a good mix of upbeat grooves, classically-soulful rhythm and blues tunes.
Feeling the best he's ever been after finishing an album, Andersen said there were no goals with this collection save for putting his best songs on this record.
“The songs cover lots of ground, from political and environmental issues to love and loss," Andersen said. "I never try to focus on a specific theme when I'm writing; I find that a hindrance to being creative."
Solid vocals traverse the scale from soft and tender to powerfully resonant, well supported with a range of instruments. The different sounds all come together with a bit of twang to bring attention to Andersen’s purposefully intense vocals.
Not a stranger to collaborative experiences, Andersen brings in a few artists to sing and play on this record, emulating the feel from his numerous tours and stages spent with other performers like Bo Diddley, Loverboy, Gregg Allman and Beth Hart.
“Working with other artists is a great way to avoid doing the same thing over and over," Andersen said. "It brings in new influences. I find it also helps bring out better songs. We end up pushing each other to do better."
Joining him for this leg of his tour is singer-songwriter Monica Rizzio.
Rizzio had previously performed with Andersen in August in shows around the West Coast. Describing him as “a hell of a performer” and “mesmerizing,” she looks forward to playing with him once more.
“He just really dials in during his live shows, night after night," Rizzio said. "I think the most important thing for any touring artist is to make sure that you’re just really there during your shows and that’s something he brings really well."
Rizzio’s latest collection of songs, “Sunshine is Free,” takes a look at the little things in life and appreciates them.
“For the title track, it came from wanting to write something fun, upbeat and lighthearted,” Rizzio said. “Despite all the chaos that we go through on a daily basis, we sometimes want to put on a record to feel good. You want to appreciate the things in life that make you feel that way and not focus on the everyday reality of our lives.”
Inspiration-wise, Rizzio turned to her experiences while on tour.
“I experienced a lot of down time with myself on the road,” Rizzio said. “It called me to deal with certain aspects of my life. The goal for the album was to put out incredibly great songs that people could relate to, made them feel good or brings them to a certain place and I think I definitely accomplished that.”
Friday’s show will be both Andersen and Rizzio’s first time performing in Ames. Andersen looks forward to seeing new places and meeting new fans, according to Rizzio.
“Midwest people are some of my favorite people and I’m looking forward to introducing my music and I’m really pumped to play," Rizzio said. "Matt and I are going to put on a pretty great show for the Maintenance Shop."
Andersen and Rizzio's performance will be a seated show. Tickets are $10 for Iowa State students and $15 for the public with a $2 increase on the day of the show. They are available for purchase at the M-Shop box office, online at midwestix.com or over the phone at 515-294-8349.