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Nearly Beloved Wandering Friends (alumni)
Nearly Beloved features many of the leading lights of the SF folk and country scene of the late nineties, some of whom went on to become greater stars, and others who have left us altogether. The Wanderer's Dream CD is driven by drummer and percussionist Kenny Wolleson, who has since played on both of Nora Jones’ CD’s, and is a founding member of Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos. Kenny has also played with Tom Waits, guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell, and many other jazz dudes. The album also features the late and great blues and other-worldly artist Paul Pena , star of the academy award winning documentary Genghis Blues, who toured with T-Bone Walker as a teenager, and penned the Steve Miller hit Jet Airliner. On Matt’s album, Paul sings bass vocal on “It Just Happens, and Tuvan Kargryaa on “You Were Gone”. Paul passed away this last year, but not before his album New Train (recorded in 1973 for Capitol records), was released. Matt had the honor of playing with his friends from Zulu Spear as the backing band for the Paul’s CD release party, and recently at a public performance honoring Paul’s life. Wanderer’s Dream features Matt’s eldest brother Paul Lacques (of the LA based cosmic country group I See Hawks in LA), on Hawaiian lap-steel guitar and mandolin. Bassist Joe Kyle who now plays with The Waybacks, plays on most of the albums tracks, while longtime soulmate of the SF folk scene Sonya Hunter lends her beautiful harmonies on an African-inspired lullaby. Michael Stadler is an East Bay bluegrass, folk, and clawhammer guitar innovator and “one hell of a country singer,” according to Laurie Lewis. Micheal sings harmonies and plays fiddle on the album, and he goes uncredited for helping Matt maintain his sanity while recording his own vocals. Erstwhile New Yorker Marilyn Carino (now of the group Muddville), and Dave Carter (chief ranger of The Trailer Park Rangers), accompany Matt to haunting effect on the album’s title track. Nearly Beloved has been together for fourteen years and its current lineup features Matt Lax-guitar and vocals, Dave Zirbel-dobro and pedal steel guitar, Erik Pearson, of The Crooked Jades banjo, guitar, and vocals, Robert Garner-upright bass, Pete Lax-harmonica, and Dave Rubin-Lax, of The Connie and Morty Show on the drums. Who is Matt Lax? Matt is a longtime Bay Area musician who played ten years in the South African world beat group Zulu Spear, and penned the title track for their 1991 Capitol Records release “Welcome To The U.S.A.” Matt began playing bluegrass guitar at the age of nine during the 70’s bluegrass revival heyday, and spent his late teens between Austin and L.A. Matt moved to the Bay Area in 1983 and joined Zulu Spear the next year at the age of twenty. Since leaving Zulu Spear in 1994, Matt has concentrated on his own music which weaves the finger picking of African music with roots country and bluegrass. Matt also plays guitar in The Palm Wine Boys, a fine West African-based acoustic group whose style is reflected in Matt’s tune “Tomorrow.”