South Brunswick residents have a chance to catch a rising star on March 1, as a local teen guitar prodigy will be performing at the South Brunswick Jazz Cafe.
Matt Wong, 15, of West Windsor, has already released a solo album, and has been nominated for Top 18 & Under Instrumentalist in this year's Jersey Acoustic Music Awards. Matt said he was inspired to first pick up a guitar from an unusual source.
"I started playing guitar when I was 6-years-old because I saw 'The Wiggles' on TV, and became fascinated with the guitar," Matt said. "I became hooked with Fingerstyle guitar when I saw Tommy Emmanuel play Mason Williams' Classical Gas on YouTube in sixth grade. I was really intrigued with how a solo guitarist could hold down the melody, rhythm, and bass parts simultaneously while adding some percussion."
Matt's guitar style, which he calls, "fingerstyle," allows him to hold down the melody, rhythm, and bass parts of the song, while he simultaneously adds percussion. He pointed to a number of various influences for helping to shape his sound.
"Besides Tommy Emmanuel, I'm influenced a lot by Chet Atkins, as well as a younger guy named Joe Robinson in both songwriting and playing," he said. "I'm also a jazz guitarist, so I get a lot of ideas from listening to people like Wes Montgomery and Django Reinhardt. The Beatles are a major influence for my composing, because their melodies are so well suited for the guitar."
Matt has previously performed throughout the tri-state area, and Pennsylvania. He has been invited to perform at several high profile local events, including Indie Music Night in Princeton, and Art All Night in Trenton. Matt has also shared the stage with well known artists such as Taylor Hope, Nikki Briar, Writer's Block, Sarah Donner, Kelly Carvin, and Wakah Chan.
Matt also plies his skills as a producer, as he self produced his debut album Fly Me to the Moon, which was released in 2011.
"I started composing a lot when I was 13. After having a decent sized list of songs, I chose 12 of the best ones and went to a studio and worked with an engineer to record them," he said. "The album features six of my originals and six of my arrangements of some really cool tunes like 'Fly me to the Moon' and Scott Joplin's 'The Entertainer.' I will have the CDs for sale at the concert and they are also available on my website. Digital downloads are available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby."
In July 2012, Matt was invited to attend the GRAMMY Foundation's prestigious program, GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles, California. Despite his young age, Matt said he has been accepted with open arms throughout the music industry at the various venues where he has performed.
"I did not find it difficult to be taken seriously by industry professionals, though there were occasionally those type of people that I would run into," he noted. "Since almost everyone I encounter through music is an adult, I learned that being professional and having a great attitude will earn you respect as an artist."
Matt will be performing at the Herb Eckert Auditorium in the South Brunswick Senior Center on March 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $6 at the door.
For more information on Matt Wong visit http://mattwong.webs.com