Although hungry to perform, Matteson was never motivated by ego, which led him to accept less than desirable time slots or last-minute shows that other artists would have regarded as beneath them. In April, his end-of-the-night Earth Mother Mind Jam set at Monsoon's in Flagstaff was truncated to a scant 15 minutes because of time constraints.
"Mike was patient to a fault," says Ikner. "For two Tuesdays before his stroke, he came to the Green Room open mike at the beginning of the night, set up his stuff and, if things would run long, as they usually do, he would do his set in the last 10 minutes when people were getting kicked out."
According to Matt Strangewayes, who hosts the weekly showcase and wound up rushing Matteson to the hospital, "Mike really just wanted to play and never complained. So we rectified the situation and said, 'Let's get you on early to kick off the night instead and do the 8-to-10 slot.'
"On the way to the gig, we talked about making it his permanent slot," recalls Strangewayes ruefully. "Mike was really excited about the idea and was talking about promoting it and everything."
Clint "The Dirt Merchant" Filichia is a Green Room regular who was scheduled to perform with Matteson the night of his stroke. "I was supposed to go on and rap over Mike's grooves, and at about 9 o'clock, when Mike's got this repetitive skipping record thing happening, he walked out in front of his equipment table and in a second he was on the ground."
Also set to appear that evening with Mike was his brother. "I was supposed to play with him that Tuesday and I couldn't make it, and he gave me more shit about it than usual," says Rick, nodding. "It's like he knew. There's no greater freedom than choosing the way you're gonna die, and he always said that that was the way he wanted to go."
Even in death, Matteson's circle of friends continues to widen, his moody photo now a familiar image for scores of local musicians and entertainers who blinked and missed him in life. Since he had no medical insurance, the burden of the hospital costs will fall on his brother, who, in the midst of all this trauma, is expecting his second child this week.
Almost immediately after Matteson's stroke, the idea of establishing a fund or a series of benefit concerts was hatched. The first such show, held at the Green Room on Sunday, August 27, was a 14-hour musical affair, an odd assortment of death metal, belly dancing, rock bands and acoustic strummers.
It's indicative of the goodwill surrounding Matteson that half of the performers never even knew him or heard his music. Given his brief exposure to the Valley scene, it's doubtful that many of his acquaintances ever got a chance to hear it, either. Some of his work survives on cassettes, which Rick says will be distributed among his friends. Another idea being discussed is a tribute CD in which local performers will get to collaborate posthumously with Matteson, combining their work with pre-existing tracks.
"The wave of support I've received from everyone has been touching and inspirational," says Rick. "The one thing about Mike I would like everyone to remember and incorporate into their lives is his ability to work for three hours setting up and tearing down his gear in order to play a 15-minute set -- and be happy about it! He's no longer a musician, he is music. So if you hear a good groove, get up and dance and know that Mike is smiling."
In keeping with Mike Matteson's wishes, there will be no funeral, but Rick plans to go to Amsterdam in late December, on what would've been the twins' 29th birthday, to sprinkle his ashes.
Watcha Doin'?: In its second season, Watcha Tour comes back to remind us that Ricky Martin is not the sole face of Latin music, nor are Los Tigres del Norte or Tierra (do people actually think Mexican kids listen to these guys?). While one concert tour can only do so much to represent everything that's going on in Latino alternative music circles from here all the way down through South America, Watcha gives as good a sampling as can be expected.
The genre-destroying Café Tacuba brings so much stuff into the mix, from punk to banda to electronica to samba to ska to Tejano, that it's impossible to dissect. Critics' darlings, and rightfully so, the band's double CD, Reves/Yo Soy, was actually worth the doubled running time. Molotov's latest, Apocalypshit (the Ouija board cover might seem innocuous to us, but it got the CD booted off a lot of shelves in Mexico), wasn't as good as their previous, ¿Donde Jugaran las Ninas?, but it still kicks the shit out of most of the band's stateside rap/rock competition. Argentina's hard-rock monsters A.N.I.M.A.L. should crush everything in sight. And Colombia's Aterciopelados can weave together a dance beat, a beatnik rap, an old tango melody, strains of folk and rock, and a sweet-voiced female into a sound that's perfect for a cabaret or the street corner or the dance floor. Enanitos Verdes, and Fulano also fill out the Manzanita Speedway bill.