Phosphorescent’s mastermind brings somber sounds to Roots N Blues

Matthew Houck of the Brooklyn-based musical project will share his heartache blues with festival-goers on Saturday.

When: 5:45 p.m. Saturday Where: Shelter Insurance Stage

It’s safe to say that broken hearts — pain and misery aside — are often great driving forces in the songwriting industry. Matthew Houck, the sole creator and figurehead behind Phosphorescent, offers a definite affirmation to this claim.

“Heartache is always my main inspiration,” Houck says. “And the decent songwriting that comes from that is the best way to define myself as an artist.”

Houck, who will play at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, has made quite the career out of singing his sorrows. In 2001, Houck began recording under the name Phosphorescent from his hometown of Athens, Ga. Now based in Brooklyn, N.Y., his creation has evolved into a full-blown project.

“I hope getting more attention is because of good work,” Houck says. “I don’t know the mechanisms behind that stuff, but I’ve been pretty surprised with the response to my new material, specifically ‘Song for Zula.’”

This song, from his latest studio album Muchacho, has received commercial success along with critical acclaim. Back in June, Time Entertainment named the six minutes of raw emotion as No. 4 on its “25 Best Songs of 2013 (So Far)”. The song’s success, although not necessarily unexpected, has taken Houck by surprise.

“I knew it was a really strong song, but it’s also a really sad song,” Houck says. “What determines success is still kind of a mystery to me. Hopefully I’ve just gotten better at making records.”

Though Phosphorescent has been to Columbia before, this year will be Phosphorescent’s first appearance at the blues festival. Undoubtedly, a decade of live performances is bound to denote some changes, both personally and musically.

“The level of making it work and how you go about the tour before performing is what has changed the most,” Houck says. “Being on a tour bus is a new experience for me.”

Houck’s soft-spoken words and mannerisms contrast the way he holds nothing back on stage. His audiences can always expect to be drenched with the pure force of emotion, but still, he says, every set is different.

“There’s no such thing as every concert being the same,” Houck says. “Every night always holds something special, and there are always thousands of little things going on that make it that way.”

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