Reggae rapper and alternative rock musician Matthew Paul Miller, known by his Hebrew name and stage name Matisyahu, caused a commotion when he went clean shaven in late 2011. It radically altered his appearance, and — as the music industry's leading Hasidic Jewish artist — impacted fans who followed his music and ideals.
Reggae rapper and alternative rock musician Matthew Paul Miller, known by his Hebrew name and stage name Matisyahu, caused a commotion when he went clean shaven in late 2011. It radically altered his appearance and — as the music industry's leading Hasidic Jewish artist — impacted fans who followed his music and ideals.
Since 2004, Matisyahu set the example for following Orthodox Jewish religion while assimilating into mainstream society and enjoying such secular pursuits as going to concerts and partying in clubs.
Although Matisyahu stated that he hadn't rejected his faith and had only decided he couldn't live by specific rules that are part of the religion, the change in his appearance, as well as the absence of a yarmulke from his clothing, caused plenty of consternation and questions.
Two albums later — "Spark Seeker" in 2012 and "Akeda" in 2014 — Matisyahu says he has yet to get a good read on how being clean shaven has shaken his image.
“There are some people who get it, and there are some people who don’t," he says during a telephone interview. “I have no control over who understands my life and who doesn’t understand it, and who understands my music and who doesn’t. I try not to spend too much time really thinking or worrying about it. I’m busy living my life.That’s the gist of it."
Miller performed for more than a year as MC Truth in the Bend-based band Soulfori. In 2004, after signing with JDub Records, a nonprofit record label that promotes Jewish musicians, he released his first album, "Shake Off the Dust ... Arise." “Live at Stubb’s” followed in 2006 and was picked up for release by Epic Records and gained the attention of the mainstream media.
Matisyahu will perform at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville. Los Angeles band Ozomatli will open the show with its Latin, hip-hop and rock music. Also look for ukulele player and singer Makua Rothman. Tickets cost $49 for reserved seating, $47 for standing room only, $37 for lawn seating, and $32 for lawn seating for ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased at the Britt box office, 126 W. Main St., Medford, online at www.brittfest.org or by calling 800-882-7488. No outside alcoholic beverages will be allowed inside the show. Beer, wine and food will be available at the concessions.
While Matisyahu received critical acclaim for his blend of reggae, hip-hop and rock and for the uplifting messages in his work, his newest, "Akeda," is especially diverse. Hip-hop remains a core element, blending with electronic pop on "Star on the Rise" and "Vow of Silence." There's also tuneful, horn-filled rock on "Watch the Walls Melt Down" and "Reservoir," and pop sounds on "Built to Survive" and "Ayeka (Teach Me To Love)." Reggae, which was less prominent on the albums "Light" (2009) and "Spark Seeker," returns on the songs "Black Heart" and "Confidence."
Matisyahu will be joined by his group, the Dub Trio, along with guitarist Aaron Dugan. Fans can expect to hear a lot of “Akeda” at the show, as well as a couple of tracks from each of his previous albums. He’s also making room in the shows for spontaneity and improvisation.
“The high point to the show, to us, and the reason why I do what I do is not really to go out there and play ‘One Day’ (a top 25 modern rock single from the “Light” album) or even to play the new songs,” Matisyahu says.
“It’s that moment during the improvisation, when we do something unique, when we do something that hasn’t happened before. Then I feel a sort of unlocking happen, something open up. It's in those moments when I speak to God and feel I’m speaking authentically. That’s why I continue to do this, and that’s what I’m trying to search for from night to night, for those moments.”