Guitarist Matt Flaherty’s been making music in the Boulder/Denver scene for the past 12 years, fronting his own funk-forward rock project Hot Soup, and folding his hybrid jazz/rock riffs in with other local acts, most recently as the guitarist for Part & Parcel as well as tribute band Pickin’ on Ween.
On Friday, Dec. 21, Flaherty will finally release his first solo album, Just The Right Amount of Crazy, a seven-track compilation of genre-blending jams that can be as poignant as they are comical, which is — if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him — a pretty good description of Flaherty himself.
But the album may never have come to fruition if it weren’t for a few chassis-rattling bumps in the road.
First, close friend and Hot Soup saxophonist Mirco Altenbach moved to England in 2016. When another core member of Hot Soup decided to take a steady position with another local band, Flaherty found himself in a rather unsettling period of fluctuation.
“With constantly losing bandmates, taking it to heart and still trying to keep my head above water it was like, what’s the one thing I could do? I could write my own album,” Flaherty says. “If this is what life gives me, I’m going to have to put down my expectations of what I thought my magical life was going to turn into.”
That “magical life” involved living like some of his earliest musical inspirations, Phish and The Grateful Dead.
“Everyone meets when they’re super young, and it works out perfectly, and they go on tour and live happily ever after,” Flaherty says with a laugh.
Even with Hot Soup cooling down, so to speak, Flaherty kept his head in the game, writing and recording most of the material that would become Just The Right Amount Of Crazy as one half of a two-person project called the Scorpion Brothers. Unfortunately, the duo never made it off the ground.
“When that went away, I kind of just put the whole thing off,” Flaherty says of finishing the album. “Finally, Chris Wright (owner of Violet Recording in Boulder) said, ‘Hey, you need to do this. You need to put this album out.’ So I did it.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster ride.”
In spite of the emotional rush, Flaherty has been able to bounce back because of his decade-plus time in the local music scene. When he needed to recruit a few musicians to help him finish Just The Right Amount Of Crazy, he was able to enlist a stellar crew, including bassist Todd Smallie of the Grammy-winning Derek Trucks Band.
Just The Right Amount Of Crazy kicks off with the bass-driven funk of “Baby Bumps,” which rewards listeners with a juicy surprise in the form of a searing, Joe Perry-esque closing guitar riff by Flaherty. “Empty Picture Frames” brings the sonic vibe of the album back to a more neutral state with its reggae-influenced groove. The lyrics, however, touch on the humbling experience of having to move forward when your hopes are crushed.
“Driving down this road and I’m never looking back/ I took all my shit and I put it in my sack/ Life’s too short and dreams can be broken/ Don’t be afraid of your own emotions,” Flaherty sings. It’s in this combination of vulnerability and humor where Flaherty’s strength lies. His songs tap into human experiences and offer wisdom without tipping into self-righteousness — a point of pride for Flaherty.
“It’s really just typical stupid stuff that comes out of my mind; you can’t take it too seriously,” he says.
And he’s right, of course. You can’t take it — any of it — too seriously. It’s how Flaherty has survived 12 years in a tough music scene like Boulder’s, and it’s how he’ll continue to survive; namely, by making people dance, smile and laugh.
Oh, and the album release show at the Fox also happens to be a party for Flaherty’s 36th birthday.
“Just wanted to give people a million reasons to go to my show,” he says. “Make them feel guilty if they don’t go.”
On the Bill: Matt Flaherty album release and birthday party — with Part & Parcel, Midnight Strange. 8:30 p.m. Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets are $12-$15, foxtheatre.com