By RENEE FITE
Music is as essential to singer, songwriter and musician Matt Farinelli as breathing – it’s something he’s always done, and has to do.
The homegrown popular musician plays multiple instruments, teaches and performs regularly. His talent is as big as his personality is easy-going. If the smile he perpetually wears is an indication of bliss, he’s one happy cat with cream for a moustache.
Often found performing with his father Carl Farinelli over the years, the younger Farinelli also has a band, Austin Cobb. This spring they released their second CD, “Bedposts and Barstools.”
His musical roots were established growing up in a home filled with all varieties of music performed by his father and older siblings Jacob and Rachel, and later, sister Melody and himself. He was very young when brother Jacob died, but has recordings of his music to know him by.
As a teenager, Matt would play with his dad’s bands, including at the senior citizens dances. Not many teenagers would do that for their dad, let alone to be with their dad. Or even for the love of music.
For the Farinellis, family and music are the key ingredients to a happy life. The father and son still perform together with the Hole in the Wall band, on occasion with Matt’s sisters and sometimes the pair entertain with educational music history workshops.
“There is an old picture of me wearing a diaper crawling on my dad’s old Martin guitar. I can remember playing banjo before I could talk,” Farinelli said. “I started getting serious on the piano around 4 years old.”
When he was 15, he wrote his first complete song.
“I released my first CD in 2009 called, ‘Austin Cobb and the ContraBand.’ It was mostly songs I had written and two songs my dad wrote for his band from the ‘60s called, ‘Carl Cobb and Texas Contraband,’” Farinelli said.
After three years of searching for band members, they recorded the new CD, “Bedposts and Barstools,” which was released May 10. The current Austin Cobb members have been a band for a little over a year.
“We are all full-time musicians now and have been playing solid since March,” he said.
Band members are Austin Cobb (Farinelli) on lead vocal and guitar, Nathan Frank on guitar and vocals, Mike Cambiano on bass and vocals and Javan Long on drums and vocals.
“I met Nathan when he was playing drums in my dad’s band. He has been playing music around Tahlequah for a long time and is on several recordings from various artists. Javan played drums in church and school and is also an amazing guitarist and song writer,” Farinelli said. “I met Mike when he was a toddler running around during concerts at Ford’s Ally. He took guitar lessons from me for several years and is also a great song writer.”
The musical style is forged from his surroundings, his experiences and his extensive background of musical history shared with his dad.
“We are proud to be from Oklahoma, and we are proud to follow in the Red Dirt tradition. Our music is inspired by the music we grew up with: country, rock, and blues,” he said.
Both albums were written and recorded by Austin Cobb at Farinelli Studios in Tahlequah. All the songs on the new CD were written by Farinelli. They include “Any Way She’ll Let Me,” “Unsaid,” “Time,” “Partyer,” “American Man,” “Bedposts and Barstools,” “More Than Tonight,” “Never Be Your Man,” “Promises,” and “Typical.”
The songs are dynamic, some are romantic and they all have Farinelli’s signature sound of solid chords with interesting twists and turns.
“Every song is inspired by my life; stories I’ve heard while bartending, adventures from out on the road, family stories, working outside in the sun,” Farinelli said. “My songs come from two places, in dreams and the shower. I don’t know how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night or jumped out of the shower to write down a line or hook.”
His roots never stray too far from their original planting, from which nourishment and strength spring eternal.
“My father is my greatest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing. My family is always a part of my inspiration for why I play music,” he said. “’Trying to build a dream for my family and friends,’ is a line from my song ‘American Man’ and it sums up the reason why I am trying to make something happen in music business.”
Like most musicians, financial gain is the least of the reasons Farinelli plays. But the dream of stardom is always an undercurrent to motivate and inspire.
“I always joke that we play music for free and they pay us to unload and load our equipment,” he said.
And their name, Austin Cobb, is actually Matt’s middle names, Matthew Austin Cobb Farinelli.
“Austin Cobb is not only my name, but it is the band as a whole. When we play, it feels right. It feels like we are supposed to be there,” he said.
“I have never felt that way in any other job. We played for five hours in Fort Smith and we weren’t ready to stop. That’s when you know you are doing what you are supposed to do.”
CDs are available, and the band members invite the public to check out their Facebook page to find out their schedule, at Face book.com/austincobbmusic and www.austincobb.com/.