There are plenty of relative obscurities reviewed hereabouts, though someone who’s been picking around the edges of rock, blues and world music over the past forty years will probably have sighted references to most of them, but Scrapomatic, I suspect, is one of the more obscure examples from the list of entities that form the backbone of Hughesy’s day to day listening.

Formed in Minneapolis after Harvard graduate with a degree in American literature Mike Mattison met University of Minnesota music composition student Paul Olsen at a P-Funk concert in 1994, Scrapomatic started relocated to New York, where, you’d imagine, there’d be a bit more work for a quality voice and guitar duo.

Along the way, predictably, additional musos came and went, but it’s worth dwelling on the sequence of events that brought Messrs Mattison and Olsen across Hughesy’s listening radar. That comes down to front men who don’t sing, in this case a certain Mr D. TRucks, who was obscure enough when I first ran across him and has had his star ascend rapidly since he was enlisted to the slide guitar slot for the Allman Brothers Band and given a similar commission with Eric Clapton’s road band.

Prior to those two gigs the Derek Trucks Band were making a name for themselves in a quiet way but it’s in the nature of the beast that players will come and go. Initially, keyboard and vocal duties with the DTB went to Bill McKay, and when he left Kofi Burbridge slotted in on keys and flute, but while Kofi, drummer Yonrico Scott and bass player Todd Smallie could cover backing vocals there was a need for a vocal front man (someone who, one assumes, would take a little of the spotlight off the non-singing leader). 

For a while that slot went to Javier Colon, but with the DTB still more or less under the radar the offer of a recording contract with Capitol lured Mr Colon towards a solo career, and the DTB’s Joyful Noise and Soul Serenade appeared with ensemble vocals (Noise) and a number of guest vocalists, including Gregg Allman and Solomon Burke (Serenade). 

So, with the DTB vocal spot vacant Mike Mattison’s name was thrown up from two directions. One was DTB producer John Snyder, who’d carted the duo down to Dockside Studios in Louisiana to cut Scrapomatic, and the other was singer-songwriter Marc Anthony Thompson. Trucks was handed copies of  Scrapomatic from two separate sources, ran across Mattison in the subway and recognized him from the album cover and that, more or less, was that.

With Mattison firmly in the DTB lineup, the duo was a fairly obvious candidate as an opening act when the band was headlining, and a passing comment on the Allman Brothers mailing list alerted me to their existence, something that was fairly easy to follow up since the duo’s taper friendly and there’s a fairly substantial collection of recordings at the Live Music Archive.

Mattison’s gone on to a backing vocals gig with the Tedeschi Trucks Band while Olsen’s been able to supplement his income with writing, producing and gigs as the musical director for solo performer. Along the way he’s also collected two ASCAP songwriting awards.

Given the fact that trader/downloader etiquette suggests you buy the official releases, it was fairly predictable that Hughesy’s iTunes library would end up with an extensive collection of official and unofficial recordings...


2002 Scrapomatic

2006 Alligator Love Cry

2008 Sidewalk Caesars

2012 I’m a Stranger (and I Love the Night)

© Ian Hughes 2012