Matt Costa’s lucky break was to his leg
July 31, 2006
When Matt Costa was 12, he got his first guitar. It had the important purpose of collecting dust. Mostly, Costa was out skateboarding. He was nearly ready to go pro when he ate it in a huge way.
“I shattered my leg,” said the now 24-year-old Costa, set to play the Belly Up tonight. “It was a compound fracture, tibia and fibula. Eight screws to put it all back together again. A year of crutches and another of rehabilitation.”
It was a lucky break ” for the world of music. Though he’d picked up his guitar off and on all along, with skateboarding out of the picture, Costa dusted off the instrument in earnest and started playing more, writing songs, recording on a 4-track.
“It was during that year when I really started thinking about song structure, thinking about what in a song made it great,” Costa said. “I like skateboarding a lot, but I had some anxiety. There was always something in the back of my mind thinking, I don’t want to get hurt. With music, I don’t have anxiety.”
At least, not most of the time. Last year, Costa got another break ” opening for Jack Johnson’s U.S. tour in support of Costa’s first CD, “Songs We Sing.”
“I’d done small runs through California. But that was the first real tour,” he said. “At first I was scared to death. I went from playing small clubs, to…the first venue we played was the smallest on the tour ” 6,000 people.”
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Costa sounds a bit like Jack Johnson, but with a touch more melancholy and a little less pop. Even so, his songs are catchy enough to cling. They’re simple and fun, a little bouncy at times. One of them sounds like a country song.
Perhaps most important, however, are the lyrics. They’re meaningful, twisting around and back through themselves like good poetry should.
“Music to me is an escape,” Costa explained. “The possibilities are endless. With music, I’m fascinated by the simplest things. It helps my mind wander to another place. Every time I hear it, it’s like a form of meditation.”
Now, after a few years in front of crowds, Costa is getting more comfortable sharing that intensely personal thing with so many.
“I’m in the habit of taking a good shot of whisky before I sing just to warm up my voice,” Costa admitted. “It helps with the nerves a little, too.”
After playing the big venues with thousands of people, Costa said he’s happy to get back to the smaller clubs. After all, everyone at the big stadiums was there to see Jack Johnson. Costa is the headliner at the Belly Up.
“I’ve been going around the country and I’m starting my own thing,” he said.
The last two weeks have been spent at home, but the Aspen show is the second stop on a tour that will continue through the fall.
“I was going to go camping when I was home,” he said. “Now, we’ll get up there, drive around to get the nature fix. I like to get out and go to the mountains.”
Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com