Matt Wells is home from Toronto and is busy preparing for his gigs in St. John’s this weekend like he does every other gig he plays: tuning his guitar, warming up his voice and doing some last-minute jamming with his bandmates.
This time, he’s also got to make sure the dishes are washed, and the embarrassing school pictures are taken down off the wall.
Wells and fellow musician Damhnait Doyle are hosting a kitchen party with their respective bands, Lazybones and The Heartbroken, this Saturday evening in Wells’ mother’s kitchen.
“We figure we can fit about 50, but we’ll fit more if it goes crazy,” Wells said. “If it’s nice, we can move it out to the deck or the garden if we need to.”
Wells and Doyle arranged the free intimate gig after trying for about a year to get their bands together for a show.
Now that they’re both home to play at the George Street Festival this week, they weren’t going to let the chance pass them by, venue or not.
“I just said to my mom, ‘When I’m coming home to play the shows, we’re going to have a kitchen party,’ and she said, ‘OK,’” Wells said, laughing. “I said there’s going to be another band, and we’re going to have contest winners. What was she going to say at that point?”
Wells was the lead singer of former local band Bucket Truck, which moved to Halifax in 2003.
Wells ended up catching the eye of bigwigs at MuchMusic, who hired him to host the show “Going Coastal.”
Once Bucket Truck retired in 2007, Wells moved to Toronto to be closer to MuchMusic, hosting “Where You At, Baby?” Wells travelled around North America, producing mini-documentaries on faded music stars like Tiffany, Vanilla Ice and Sammy Hagar.
Wells began writing and recording songs with his friend Tim McNeil, and what started as a casual project turned into an album with guest stars such as Huey Lewis and Jill Barber performing, three music videos that receive airplay on CMT, MuchMusic and MuchMore, and a seven-piece band.
“It kind of gradually grew and grew, and all of a sudden we were putting a banjo and a mandolin and instead of just both our vocals on the record, we had five-part harmonies happening,” Wells said. “It’s got more of a bluegrass vibe now.
“Tim writes these kind of rootsy reggae songs and then because of the country I’m bringing and the addition of all these vocals, it’s kind of become this travelling hillbilly reggae party. While some people might try and wow you with a guitar solo, our guitar solos are five part harmonies.”
Among the Lazybones band members is Wells’ father, Alex, a longtime musician who also lives in Toronto.
“I remember him taking me to see Huey Lewis at Memorial Stadium when I was eight, and now he’s singing these songs that I’ve written,” Wells said. “It’s cool having your old man up there, over your shoulder.”
Lazybones and The Heartbroken are taking qualifiers for their kitchen party through a Facebook page dedicated to the event, which can be found through www.lazybones.ca, and will announce the winners Friday.
In addition to the kitchen party, Lazybones will play at the George Street Festival Thursday evening before heading to The Rose and Thistle for a performance with The Monday Nights; on Friday at The Ship with Mark Bragg; and on Saturday, after finishing up at Wells’ mom’s house, at The Brimstone with Jerry Stamp and Ian Foster.
The Heartbroken will hit the George Street Festival Sunday.