Originally created 06/04/99

Songwriter has nothing against money



Singer-songwriter Matthew Kahler was almost burned out until the mainstream success of friend and former collaborator Shawn Mullins helped reinspire him.

Mr. Kahler was once a regular on the same Atlanta club circuit traversed by Mr. Mullins, whose radio hit Lullaby was nominated for a Grammy Award. But for the past couple of years he had scaled back his performance schedule and started taking care of people's pets for extra income.

"I was staying away because I didn't have anything new to offer," Mr. Kahler said in a recent phone interview from his home in Atlanta.

Now he's starting over, re-establishing himself on the club scene, working on new material and dedicating himself to music full-time again. "I've never worked so hard to be poor again," he joked.

Mr. Kahler performs for the last Songwriters' Showcase series concert of the season at 8 tonight at Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way Extension.

"This is a real coup for Augusta to have an appearance by Matthew Kahler," said Joy Hayman, one of the concert's organizers. "(He's) extremely energetic, very innovative and intense. I would say, just to give people an idea, his music is a cross between James Taylor and John Hiatt."

At the recent Garden City Folk Festival, many of the performers plugged Mr. Kahler's performance tonight. Atlanta folk singer Caroline Aiken described him as "the Rolling Stones and James Taylor all wrapped into one."

Indeed, his nasally vocals are reminiscent of Mr. Taylor.

But his performance style is somewhat unusual. On some songs he performs in the more traditional singer-songwriter mode, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. On other tunes, he sings while playing congas -- no guitar or other melodic instruments, just his vocals and a beat.

Mr. Kahler is trying to get back in the public eye, and this time around he's taking on more of the burden of promoting himself, utilizing devices such as e-mail, the Internet and promotional recordings. "I learned they aren't going to find you in the woods," he said.

He wants to rebuild his fan base, let club owners know he's still alive and graduate to playing larger rooms across the country.

And he wouldn't mind a successful record, either.

While many musicians claim they don't care about record sales, Mr. Kahler isn't denying he'd love the commercial success enjoyed by Mr. Mullins, with whom he recorded two albums, Jeff's Last Dance, Vol. 1 and Jeff's Last Dance, Vol. 2.

"I'm not anti-money. I'd take every penny," he said. "What better way to coast for a while than with your own product?"

On stage

What:

Songwriters' Showcase featuring Matthew Kahler

When:

8 tonight

Where:

Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way

How much:

$10 at door

Phone:

737-6296

Kent Kimes covers entertainment and arts for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3626 or feature@augustachronicle.com.