Suitcase Junket makes tunes from trash

This article originally appeared in the Kentucky Kernel.

For years Vermont native Matt Lorenz has captivated audiences around the country with his circus-like one man band going by the moniker The Suitcase Junket. According to Lorenz, the pseudonym for his project came after a literary excursion.

“I like the idea of a junket, like an octet, since I’m playing on a bunch of trash,” Lorenz said. “I looked up the word in a dictionary, and the first definition was ‘a sweet meat’ and the second was ‘a pleasure excursion’. It also means ‘to professionally tour’. At that point it was a matter of figuring out which junket I was running. I was playing a suitcase and carrying much of my stuff in one, so suitcase was a good qualifier for what kind of junket I’d be.”

The Suitcase Junket stands out among many other emerging one man bands because of Lorenz’s different approach to producing his solo sound. According to Lorenz, his show is entirely live, whereas other one man bands often use recording devices to capture guitar riffs and other small bits of musical magic, having the recorder play that segmented audio on a loop as the artist grabs another instrument to play.

Lorenz crafted his stage assemblage himself with the final product being a contraption even Macgyver would be perplexed by. The base of the setup is a suitcase which Lorenz sits on and uses as a bass drums. Moving to the feet, Lorenz uses his right toe to hit on a hi-hat along with pedals that drop suspended utensils onto a wooden box below, echoing a “jangly, crunchy” sound. One the left foot, Lorenz’s big toe operates a pedal causing a baby shoe to kick against a gas can and his heel hits a cook pot and a saw blade that sounds similar to a boxing bell.

Throw in an acoustic guitar and you’ve got the cherry on top of The Suitcase Junket musical madness.

“It’s basically me sitting up there banging on a bunch of stuff with my feet, playing the guitar and singing, trying to make it sound like I’m a full three-piece band”, Lorenz said.

The learning curve for Lorenz’s device is hard to grasp, even for its creator. According to Lorenz, he had difficulties early on at shows for the Junket getting the drum beats in rhythm with the remaining music, a result of not playing drums much prior to then when he performed with his sister Kate as two-thirds of the band Rusty Belle. He later discovered at a cold, wintry show that his large snow boots distorted his desired drum sound and caused his beats to be off sync, leading him to discard wearing them at shows.

After releasing his fourth record titled “Dying Star” in 2016, Lorenz wrapped up work and is making final preparations to release his latest collection of music “Piledriver” later this spring, taking listeners on a journey with influences of indie folk, blues, rock and Americana.

The Suitcase Junket will perform at The Burl on Jan. 19.

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