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2019 will be the final Black Potatoe Music Festival

A letter from Matt Angus - The Last Black Potatoe


Hello Black Potatoe fans,


I hope this letter finds all of you well. Twenty three years ago I, the small staff of Atomic Productions and Black Potatoe Records, as well as the members of the band Angus decided that instead of doing a traditional CD release at a club we would do one ourselves at a more creative location. For a couple of years or so prior, Atomic Productions had been pitching an idea to the Red Mill Museum in Clinton, NJ for a show that might appeal to a younger crowd. In the summer of 1997 the two ideas came together and we set forth a plan to have a CD release party for the band Angus in mid-July at the Red Mill. With a little help from the weather and a great guy named Levon Helm that show would become the Black Potatoe Music Festival that we know today.

So, after 23 years, I announce with excitement, some anxiety, more love, certainty, a little sadness, but much more celebration, that July 2019 will be the last annual Black Potatoe Music Festival at the Red Mill Museum in Clinton, NJ.


It has been an honor to have the association we have had with the Red Mill, the town of Clinton, the State of New Jersey, our sponsors, the patrons, the musicians, the potatoeheads and some of the best live music fans anywhere.


There are a few reasons for this decision, but first and most importantly is I believe, as it is, Black Potatoe has run its course. We have accomplished the most we can in our current form and we want to go out celebrating a great run. We have been fortunate to have some of the world's greatest singer-songwriters, musicians and performers grace the stages of Black Potatoe and in all that time the single day price remains at $25 a day as it will again this year. We have always had a focus on great musicianship and songwriting from unknown independent acts from all over the world and we have always had a great audience for just that, you are there to listen and appreciate the amazing talent being shared.


There is also the reality of being 2,600 miles away, a mountain of unfinished projects and only so many hours in the day. The last three years have been a challenge on many fronts, with distance being one of the big ones. As a resident of Arizona, I have come to love my new physical location and home state, as much as I love my state of origin, New Jersey, but 2,600 miles is 2,600 miles and that is a long way. 


Another pressing issue is the number of unfinished projects on deck. In 2008 my first child, Maeve, was born and with the exception of Black Potatoe, an occasional festival gig, benefit or other engagement, I all but stopped playing live but I did not stop recording or working on material. There is a surplus of unreleased material. I miss playing live more often, and perhaps I can now put something together that doesn't include a 14-person band, although I would greatly miss those 14 people I have played with in the Matt Angus Thing as they are among my favorite people in the world. 


For projects, The Matt Angus Thing has a full album with Pinetop Perkins that we have never mixed or mastered. There are also unreleased recordings with Garth Hudson, Bernie Worrell, Honeyboy Edwards and Levon Helm, all of which I would love to spend some time on. Then there is this whole movie thing. Working on the movie "The Decade" for the last year has been an incredibly rewarding experience and reminded me of how this all started with the films/videos we made for industrial clients back at the beginning with Black Potatoe Records and Atomic Productions. It was the direction we were heading in while life had decided upon other plans for us. Now is the time to get back on track, and I do so with a fond feeling in my soul for the festival and an excitement that I have not had in quite some time. 


Above all, I am grateful, about as grateful as a man can be. I have a great wife, great kids, great friends and list of supporters that no one person should have. I am a lucky guy and I know it. Black Potatoe is not ending, we are changing our physical location and adjusting our focus with the same intent of moving new creative independent projects forward. 


Black Potatoe is not going away. Independent music is not going away. The struggle for amazing artists to get heard is not going to stop and they continue to need your help and support. Whatever community, no matter how big or how small we have created, it must continue to support those independents that have all the talent in the world but no place to shine. Indie music shines because of those who listen, because of those who support, because of those who care. I know the potatoeheads do all three and will continue to.


I thank you all for an incredible 23 years and I look forward to seeing you all in the future - maybe at a film screening, maybe as I tour with an acoustic duo or a four-piece punk band (probably not practical). I will be around, I will be listening and I will enjoy hearing of the great finds from those of you that have enlightened me over the years.


Peace and love and I hope to see you all in July 2019!

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