Using an intriguing blend of classical guitar and the blues, Matt Schroeder is one of the best guitarists in Milwaukee.
A veteran of local rock outfits such as Pet Engine and The Barbeez, he has demonstrated for years that he knows his way around the electric guitar. But Schroeder, who also is a fingerstyle guitar instructor at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, felt compelled to share a different side of his talent.
With his debut solo album "Signal," Schroeder accomplishes his goal. And, he says, it was a long time coming.
"It comes out of my whole history as a guitar player," he said. "I came to Milwaukee to study fingerstyle guitar, and the seeds were planted."
Schroeder took an interesting road to creating the record.
"I'm one of those people that needs a deadline," Schroeder said. "So about a year and a half ago, I scheduled a CD release party, not even having a CD. I asked myself, "What do I need to do to get this done?'"
Schroeder's goal-oriented approach worked, and a majority of the album was written in the last year.
"Signal" is an instrumental album, and highlights Schroeder's prowess on the acoustic guitar. The fantastic title track starts things off, with a beautiful arrangement of harmonics and arpeggios. This tune has a similar feel to Led Zeppelin's "Bron-Yr-Aur." On "Sierra Madre," Schroeder's great slide guitar lends a swampy feel.
A pedal-steel guitar is used on "While I'm Waiting," giving the composition texture and depth. Schroeder pays homage to Duane Allman on the latter's "Little Martha."
"Signal" is free of overdubs, so the overall feel is simple and direct, never burying the sound under effects. It is a testiment to Schroeder's confidence.
In addition to his recording career, Schroeder is passionate about teaching music. He graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Guitar Performance, and has been a faculty member at the Conservatory since 1992.
"I started out as a student teacher, while I was working on my degree," he says. "Once I got my degree, I was made a full faculty member. I meet great people, and I enjoy helping people out with their guitar playing," Schroeder says. "And I get the benefit of being inspired by my students and the music they are into."
Schroeder plays June 3 at the Red Bank Coffee House in Two Rivers. Show time is 1 p.m.