Matt Lorenz sits alone on a suitcase in the center of a complex construction of upcycled cookpots, saw blades and broken chairs. Artist, tinkerer, tunesmith, swamp yankee. A one-man salvage specialist singing into the hollow of a Dumpster guitar, slipping a broken bottleneck onto the slide finger, railing on a box of twisted forks and bones, rocking till every sound is ragged at its edges, till the house is singing back. Then, unplugging all the amps and letting one mountain ballad soar over the raw strings on that guitar. Every night is a hard-driving, blues-grinding, throat-singing search-and-rescue junket. Sooner or later everything rusts, busts, and gets tossed into the junk heap: iron, bones, leather, hot rods, muskrats, thenight, the heart.
Matt Lorenz was raised in Cavendish, Vermont, the son of teachers. He learned to sing by copying his sister Kate. (The siblings are two-thirds of the touring trio Rusty Belle.) Lorenz graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2004, having taught himself to throat-sing thanks to a South Indian cooking class. On moving day, he pulled his guitar, filled with mold and worse for wear, from a dorm Dumpster. He fixed it up and started pulling songs out of it. That was the beginning.
The Suitcase Junket is filling rooms and drawing festival crowds all over his native New England and beyond, from Signal Kitchen near the Canadian border to Wisconsin's Mile of Music Festival, from Ireland's pubs to Mountain Jam in the Catskills, from opening nights for Lake Street Dive and Charlie Musselwhite to Mountain Stage in West Virginia. He caught the attention of National Public Radio who chose his video session for "Earth Apple" from his 2015 album Make Time as one of the year's favorite sessions.
On the heels of the widely acclaimed 2015 LP Make Time, Matt Lorenz is releasing an E.P. entitled Dying Star, on Signature Sounds, whose roster includes Lake Street Dive, And the Kids, Eilen Jewell, Chris Smither, Winterpills, Parsonsfield, Barnstar! and alumni Crooked Still, Josh Ritter, Erin McKeown, and Lori McKenna. With Dying Star, The
The Suitcase Junket is deep-groove blues, low-fi hard-driving rock, killer sweet ballads rising over wreckage. It's big music, informed by what used to be played on back porches and mountains -- right at home in rock halls. Here's the thing: You've got to see it to believe it. All that mighty sound is coming from one guy -- Matt Lorenz -- sitting there, skinny and big hair, on an old leather satchel in the center of a pile of instruments he built of salvage: rigged-up pots, glass, bones, a box of forks, a beat-up toy keyboard, a pair of ancient amps, a dumpster guitar. The haunting, invented sound of throat singing. Key to the operation is get-gone songwriting and a single, glorious, ragged, road-worn, powerhouse voice. The Suitcase Junket didn't set out to be a one-man band but it had to happen that way. Yankee thrift. Songs from a new, old place.