Basic Folk Podcast: Matt Smith of Club Passim

by Cindy Howes (@cindycast) Folk Alley

This podcast features Matt Smith - a living legend with his unbelievable run at the historic Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently Managing Director at Passim, Matt is the most passionate music lover I know. As Basic Folk’s producer Laura McCarthy said to him, it’s easier to name our episodes that don’t mention Matt’s name and unwavering support. Matt has used his platform at Passim to help establish artists like Lori McKenna, Anais Mitchell, Lake Street Dive, and so many more. I met Matt while working as a student at WERS, where he was bringing fantastic artists into a listening room filled with people who were clambering for honest music in an intimate space.

In this rare opportunity to have a long conversation with Matt, he talks about his early love for music and his first music job (Strawberries!). He tells the fateful tale of how he (finally) found Club Passim and how he came to start as a volunteer and worked his way up to booking all the shows at the venue. Matt shares the origin story of Passim’s bi-annual festival that he founded in 1998, The Campfire, which has turned into the biggest artist development tool for the club. His role in artist development in the folk world is actually pretty enormous, and it’s hard to imagine what the genre would be like without him. This podcast episode is a must listen to any musician or musical gatekeeper!

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