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Meet the Band: Have Gun Will Travel

A look at a band with local ties.

Published September 21, 2006

Guitar slinger: Bradenton musician Matt Burke, a.k.a. Have Gun Will Travel, performs on his own or with brother Danny on bass.

Weapon: Martin D15 acoustic guitar.

Tricks: "I do different things with the tuning; I use a capo or drop down the low string a full step."

Name: Have Gun Will Travel was a 1950s TV western.

CD: Self-titled, 2006. On it, Burke plays all of the instruments, which includes brushes on snare, harmonica and banjo. The disc got a favorable review in American Songwriter magazine, which called him "a mix between Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Whiskeytown."

10-second review: Burke has an intimate, natural style. He may not break new ground but moves listeners with his honest melodies and earnestly pleasant vocals.

Where you might know him from: He's front man for indie pop-punk band the Chase Theory.

Favorite snack food: Funyuns.

When, why did he go solo: "It all started about a year and a half ago because my girlfriend bought me for my birthday this multitrack recording console, so that I could record stuff at home. . . . Plus what I was listening to at the time. "

What was that: Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Neil Young

Lyrical Jesse James: Burke pens lyrics for both HGWT and Chase Theory.

"I use a more narrative style in Have Gun Will Travel. The Chase Theory stuff is less direct. Even subject matter tends to be different. A lot of times I'm singing in Chase Theory, not in another range really, but I'm belting it out, and then Have Gun Will Travel is a little more subdued."

Getting it down: "The melody is often in my head before I have lyrics to it; I find phrases to fit the melody.

Word troubles: "I'm glad I come across as natural, but I'm pretty particular with words I choose. They don't come rolling out. ... Sometimes I'll latch onto one phrase sticking in my head (such as Silver in the Age of Opulence) and figure out how that phrase relates to me and why it's significant."

Past projections: "There's a few references to religion on the record - subconsciously, that topic has been coming through. I was raised in a very religious (Christian, nondenominational) family up until I was 10, when my parents got divorced. Before that we were avid churchgoers. ... It became less and less of a big influence."

Praise mom and dad: Thirty-year-old Burke first became exposed to music as an infant by his parents, who played in a gospel rock band called Living Free.

Other creative project: Daughter Helaina is just shy of 2 months old.

Check him out: 5 p.m. Sunday at the SMA Compilation CD fundraiser, Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa. $8. All ages. (813) 971-0666.

- JULIE GARISTO, Times staff writer

[Last modified September 20, 2006, 10:48:19]

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