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Matt Weidinger Plays Van Morrison Saturday night at the Registry Theatre

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Steve Kannon
Steve Kannonhttps://www.observerxtra.com
A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

Born decades after Van Morrison was creating some of his most enduring music, Kitchener singer-songwriter Matt Weidinger has a musical connection to the ’60s and ’70s, what he calls the golden age of record-making.

Anyone who’s seen him perform would agree with the “old soul” label, so it’s particularly fitting that he’s taking on the songs of an old soul master this weekend at the Registry Theatre when  “Matt Weidinger Plays Van Morrison.”

It’ll be something of a retrospective of Van the Man’s extensive song catalogue, with a particular focus on the early stuff that was Weidinger’s introduction to Morrison’s brand of Celtic soul.

“I started listening to Van Morrison in high school, with Astral Weeks … and then Moondance,” he says, soon uncovering a treasure trove of musical offerings.
“He’s got a huge catalogue. With Van Morrison, there’s just so much to see, so much to discover.”

Kitchener singer-songwriter Matt Weidinger

Morrison has been prolific, with dozens of albums to his credit since 1967’s Blowin’ Your Mind! Fifty years on, in fact, he’s currently touring 2017’s Versatile, a collection of jazz standards and originals.

For Saturday night’s show, Weidinger’s put together a seven-piece band, including two horns to reflect the sound for which Morrison is known.

“He loves that horn-sound music – he loves the soul stuff,” he said of Morrison, who grew up listening to his father’s extensive record collection of old blues, gospel, country and jazz records from the States.

Weidinger’s own influences stem from the ’60s, as can be heard in both his vocals and his choice of music.

Like Morrison, he began performing as a teen. Having just turned 25, he’s already got a decade of experience under his belt that has earned him a solid following. In addition to singing and writing songs, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, equally at home on the piano, organ, guitar, bass and mandolin.

Saturday night will find him behind the keyboard or with guitar in hand, six other musicians backing him up as he makes his way through the Belfast Cowboy’s catalogue. They’ll be the hits – Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance and the like – but also “the B-sides that people might be looking for.”

Expect some emphasis on the early albums.

“My first instincts are usually the early ‘70s stuff,” he says of his choice of Morrison’s songs … and music in general.

In preparation for the show, he’s had to dig deeper into Morrison’s music, developing an even greater appreciation for it … and banking some songs for future performances.

“Any time I can learn songs that I can put in my repertoire, add to the list, it’s great,” says Weidinger, adding such exercises help his own songwriting, providing a way to see words and music from a different perspective.

Matt Weidinger Plays Van Morrison at the Registry Theatre on March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, available by calling 519-578-1570, or online at www.registrytheatre.com.

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