top of page

Matt Tomlinson

Good music isn’t about technical ability, it’s about expression.

Performing live is very difficult to describe. It’s full of nervous energy, unfiltered emotion, extreme focus, and uncertainty. No amount of rehearsal or preparation guarantees you’ll have a great performance, and no amount of promotion guarantees a great turnout. There are so many variables involved that it’s impossible to control them all. But on those special nights when the band is in sync and the crowd is engaged, there’s nothing quite like it.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been infatuated with music, and I was very fortunate that my parents cultivated and supported that interest from an early age. My dad bought me my first electric guitar (a Gibson Les Paul) when I was in 6th grade, which is when my fascination with making music really blossomed.

Despite growing up with many of the talented musicians from this area, I didn’t start playing in a band until after I graduated college. My first gigging experiences around Roanoke were with my first band, Slideways, which was an original blues/rock outfit that played at places like Blues BBQ and The Coffee Pot. Even though we didn’t gig that regularly, we practiced every single week, sometimes twice a week. Those early experiences were truly invaluable as I learned how to play music with other people.

Now, I play lead guitar and sing for Shorefire, which I’ve been with for about six years. I also play rhythm guitar and sing for Half Moon, which I’ve been with for just over two years. I sing lead on many of the cover songs that we play, but for the original music I generally provide backup vocals. I enjoy the different roles I have in each band, as I think it has helped me become a more well-rounded musician.

I’ve been fortunate to have many amazing moments playing live music over the years, but the one that sticks out the most is the Half Moon Xmas Jam this past December. I lost my Dad suddenly the day before the show and was considering backing out given the circumstances, but everyone had worked so hard rehearsing and I knew how much my Dad had enjoyed and encouraged me playing music. Performing with some of my favorite people for such an enthusiastic crowd full of friends and family could not have been better for me in that moment.

We are pretty spoiled here in Roanoke with all of the great venues, fans, and websites that support the live music scene, so I hope to see it continue to grow and be a part of it for as long as I can. I really enjoy the camaraderie with the different bands and I think 2017 is going to the best year yet for the Roanoke music scene!

Photo credit: Siobhan Cline



bottom of page