Andersen brings blues to Alaska — Canadian style

Listen to Matt Andersen’s music, and you hear a deep, growling voice that could come from blues country in Chicago or the Mississippi Delta. There’s also a bit of Appalachia twang — Johnny Cash crossed with B.B. King. Backing his strong voice is Andersen’s equally powerful slide guitar.

“You know it hurts so bad
 every time she cries / wishin’ I was there
 to wipe the tears from her eyes,” he sings in “When My Angel Gets the Blues.”

That’s classic stuff, good old American music. And it is — North America, that is, north of the border in Canada. Listen a bit closer and you might catch a hint of the Maritime province in his voice. Andersen’s a born-in-New Brunswick good old boy from Perth-Andover, a rural blue collar town.

Sponsored by the Homer Council on the Arts, Andersen plays Homer for one night only at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Mariner Theatre. 

Coming from a musical background where his grandfather played fiddle and his mother piano, Andersen started out on tuba and trumpet and took up guitar at age 14. He played cover tunes in pubs, but eventually discovered the blues through Eric Clapton and B.B. King.

“What really hit me most about the blues was its total honesty,” he said on his website.

“He writes the kind of big-hearted, hurtin’ songs that give you a lump in your throat because of their raw vulnerability,” The said of his music. “His voice is volcanic — and what he doesn’t do with his voice — he does with virtuosic guitar work, whether finger picking, strumming or slide.”

The London Times called him “Canada’s greatest guitarist.”

His first album, “One Size Never Fits,” came out in 2002, and in the past 10 years has put out a baker’s dozen of albums, including a string with Busted Flat Records, most recently “Coal Mining Blues.”

Andersen has toured internationally, and appeared with Randy Bachman, Bo Diddley, Little Feat, America and others. He’s also appeared frequently on  Stuart McLean’s radio show, “The Vinyl Café,” heard locally on KBBI public radio.

As verification of his blues chops, in 2011 he won the Maple Blues Awards for entertainer of the year and acoustic act of the year.

His goal in entertaining is simple, he says on his website.

“I’m not trying to change anyone’s life in a big way, but I love it when listeners really get involved in the music,” Andersen said. “That’s what really makes it a great night for everyone.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

Tags: ,