There is perhaps nobody more blatantly San Franciscan in the whole Bay Area music scene than Mark Matos. He’s got the stereotypical long hair. He’s a mystic of sorts. He lives what most folks would probably consider an unconventional lifestyle. He’s well traveled and well read. And just look at him – he could be the alternate universe love child of Carlos Santana and Jerry Garcia.
His music borrows from folk traditions, country, rock, tropicalia, and psychedelia. It’s a blend that, again, is blatantly San Franciscan. Even when he was briefly based in Los Angeles, and even though he’s technically based in Oakland, Mark Matos is emblematic of what San Francisco once was and, in some ways, still is.
More than this, Matos is a gregarious soul, generous with smiles and hugs, which makes him a magnetic personality to those who regularly follow his traveling road show. Whether solo, or leading his band Os Beaches, or hosting and performing in the revue-style Family Folk Explosion, Matos is intent on creating an event and imparting an unforgettable experience for his audience.
Like many others spotlighted in this series since it became focused on the Bay Area, I first heard Mark at a house party, and then gradually became immersed in his club shows. After three years of experiencing the variations iterations of Mark’s live band lineups, we finally had a chance to sit down talk in front of a camera.
Given the relaxed setting of this interview – it was recorded the morning after an April 20, 2013 performance at Sparks Ranch Resort in Sonora, California – Mark felt very comfortable elaborating on my questions. So we decided to split his interview across two episodes. In this episode, Mark dives deep into what influences shape his approach, both musical and non-musical. You’ll likely hear many references that may prompt you to do further digging on your own to learn more about Mark’s vision of “the New Weird West.”