When Dr. Sheri Matascik says she kept her self-produced CD At the End of the Day personal, she really means it.
The associate professor of music at Maryville College recorded her original compositions in her 10-year-old studio. She worked with her brother on the CD’s artwork, and her beloved dog is the star of a bonus track.
But the idea for producing a CD commercially wasn’t her own; it was her fans’. Following her Spring 2008 recital, colleagues, students and local music followers persistently asked Matascik if she would release her music to the public.
“Basically, people just wanted to hear the music,” she said.
So earlier this year, the MC professor released At the End of the Day, a collection of guitar compositions that celebrate classical, contemporary folk, Appalachian, jazz and Celtic styles. For a piece entitled “Simple But True,” she also performed on ukulele in a style that evokes Asian folk music.
To promote the sale of her new CD, Matascik will be playing at Carpe Librum Booksellers in Knoxville over the holiday season. At the End of the Day can also be purchased through cdbaby.com.
Compositions heard on the CD have been in the works for about two years. While writing, Matascik made connections with other musicians who had music styles similar to hers. She attended Guitar Week for the past two years at the Swannanoa Gathering, which is a folk arts workshop at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
“I’m working on some changes in my life,” said Matascik, who will be 49 this month. “I’m moving to a part in my life where I see things differently than I did when I was younger. I decided to go back to my roots, which is guitar, and write music that I thought will affect people on an emotional level.”
When asked to explain the title of her CD, Matascik replied, simply, “Because for me that’s the message. At the end of the day, is somebody going to listen to this music?”
There are reasons why her self-written music contains a wide range of styles. Although a fan of Dave Matthews and John Mayer, Matascik, at the end of her day, listens to a variety of music. If she puts her iPod on shuffle, music ranging from Beethoven’s symphony to rap to blues may be heard from the speakers.
“The wider my ear is, the wider my appeal is while I’m writing,” she explained.
The musician and Maryville College professor started playing at age 5, when her parents gave her a ukulele. Growing up in a large Catholic family with four siblings, she didn’t receive her first guitar until she was 9. Matascik beamed when she thought back to her first guitar - a Stella Harmony. Her father was her first instructor.
Her steel-string solo guitar playing is influenced by her current instructor, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Al Petteway, who opened her ears to more contemporary styles and helped her learn to record acoustic guitar.
The CD was her first experience with recording acoustic guitar.
“I made lots of mistakes figuring out how to splice things together,” Matascik said. She also kept picking up the sounds of cars passing by as well as noises from her beloved dog, Twinkie, who, sadly, passed away over the summer.
“The CD is a personal tribute to Twinkie after everything else,” she said.
“Twinkie’s Commentary,” which is the very last track of the CD, contains sound clips of her canine friend snoring - snoring that prevented her from recording music successfully on many occasions. Also on the CD is a piece entitled, “Aunt Rosie’s Hill,” which was inspired by her childhood memories on her late Aunt Rosie’s farm.
She has begun work on her next commercial CD, which will contains pieces with more upbeat rhythms. The local national parks have inspired her to create music themed around the Smoky Mountains. She may also incorporate other instruments in her second release.
“The first (CD project) went so well, I thought ‘Why not?’”