Owatonna People’s Press talks to Matt Arthur

Dec 08, 2018

Annie Granlund, from just down the road in Owatonna (closest “real” town to Matt’s home in Ellendale) had a chat with Matt Arthur this week about his life and his solo record. If you’re a subscriber, you can read the article on the Owatonna People’s Press website; if not, you can read it below.

Matt Arthur Rocks – Musician refuses to let being blind define him

By ANNIE GRANLUND agranlund@owatonna.com | Dec 6, 2018

ELLENDALE — “I was born blind,” Matt Arthur stated bluntly.

After laying it out there, that was the last the Ellendale resident mentioned of his blindness while narrating his life story. It wasn’t until he was asked about it again that Arthur laughed it off and said that it’s all he’s ever known.

“Being blind isn’t a factor,” the 54-year-old added. “Blindness doesn’t define my life. I’m not afraid of nothing and that’s not going to stop me from doing what I want.”

It is safe to say that being blind has never deterred Arthur, who decided at a young age that he was born for making music. From singing in his country-church choir just outside of Hope to being the front man in a couple different Minnesota bands, Arthur can now chalk up solo-artist on his list of musical accomplishments after releasing his gospel album, “On The Edge, At The Bottom.”

“My family really wasn’t very musical,” Arthur said, noting that most musicians came from families that at the very least collected records. “My connection with music when I was a kid was the radio. We didn’t have a lot of money and the one radio we had didn’t work too good, so I would spend a lot of time scanning around that entire dial just looking for something.”

At first, all Arthur could find was the old country station that came out of Waseca. He learned to sing gospel by listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford and Johnny Cash, leading him to sing in the church choir. In high school, Arthur decided to teach himself how to play the accordion, and with the help of one of his teachers he was able to master a few songs.

In the early ‘90s, however, is when Arthur discovered the guitar.

“I found this old guitar that was broken in half,” he chuckled. “So I went and bought some Elmer’s wood glue at the hardware store. I didn’t have any money, so I fixed it up. It took me about a half a day to put six strings on that baby, but I was able to learn a little on that..”

After Arthur’s grandfather died in 1999, he wanted to use his inheritance money to buy a nicer guitar. After going back and forth a bit with his mom about how to spend the money, Arthur went ahead and bought a Gibson Hummingbird.

“That’s the smartest thing I ever did,” he said with pride.

Before the purchase of the Gibson, Arthur had already started performing on stage. His first band, Prest Asbestus, played everywhere in the Twin Cities, once even sharing the same stage as local luminary Soul Asylum. After the band fizzled and Arthur relocated to Ellendale, he joined brothers Don and Doug Bratland and formed Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders for a Johnny Cash tribute show. Since then, the group has traveled around southern Minnesota and ventured north to the Cities with drummer Joel Beithon. During that time, Arthur discovered a passion for songwriting, which eventually led to the recording of his solo album.

“I just wanted to have fun with it,” Arthur said about his time in the recording studio. “Most people, when they record in studios, they can make it kind of difficult. I just wanted it to be authentic.”

“About the only time I feel one with the world is on stage with a guitar in my hand,” he continued. “Music is about all there is, it keeps me going.”

Currently, Matt Arthur and the Bratlanders are working on an EP, and Arthur himself is open to the idea of recording another solo album. He’s not in it for the profit, though, as Arthur asserts that it is all about doing what he loves: making music.

“Just do what you want, do what you gotta do,” Arthur offers as advice to anyone else who may be facing adversity. “Stand up for your rights, stand up for what you believe in, and you don’t back down.”

More information about Arthur can be found at www.MattArthur.Rocks. People can stream his solo album from the website or pick up a copy at Krause Feeds and Supply in Hope.