Picture this in your mind.
Back porch, red clover field in the distance, soothing music from a guitar and a small boy playing in the yard.
In all actuality, this scene plays out in real life many times a week at this rural Collins home.
Musician, father, husband and conservationist, Matt Woods, sitting on the back porch of their rural Collins home, strumming a tune while his 3-year-old son, Rodney, runs through the clover. The gentle wind blows, seemingly dancing along with the young dancer nearby.
Not sure if it gets any better than this.
For the past five years, Matt Woods and his wife Rachel and 3-year-old son, have enjoyed the peacefulness of the rural life.
“I always wanted to be a farmer,” said Matt. “I didn’t grow up on a farm, but this is the closest thing to a farm as it gets for us.”
The music portion of this story began when Matt received his first guitar for his 21st birthday.
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” he admits. “I love the traditional music of America, the blues and roots music.”
It was his music that led him to his wife.
“I met Rachel the old-fashion way,” he tells. “In a bar.”
Rachel tells it just a bit differently.
“Yes, we met in a bar,” she said. “I was working as a bartender, and he was playing music. In fact, he had been playing music in the bar where I worked for a long time. So, I knew him first for his music.”
Rachel admits that she loved his music first and then loved him and still does.
“I love his music and the fact that he shares it with others,” said Rachel. “I am so proud of him and I like all the music that he sings, and writes and plays on the guitar. I love to listen to him as he is composing and how he is able to figure it all out and learns how it all fits together. You will find him with his guitar in his hands most of the time when he’s not working.”
Matt attended college at Simpson College in Indianola. After graduation, he took a position at Pioneer and worked as a biochemist for 12 years. He then took a position at Iowa State University as an agronomist, he said, “because he just wanted to work outside.”
For the past 17 years, Matt has earned himself a reputation as being a darn good musician. He has played over 100 or more shows each year, either on his own or with a band. More recently he has been performing on his own as a solo act.
From writing his own music to being the band leader and lead singer, he has progressed through the music industry as a soloist. He has his favorites, but admits that he enjoys playing other people’s music too.
“A lot of what I play is music that has been around for a long time,” he tells. “Some songs come and go and some just change. Those individuals that know who I am will request some of my original music.”
Hard work has paid off for Matt in the music industry. He has cut a few albums and won several awards. But is he rich and famous yet?
“I am not rich or famous,” he said. “I would love to be rich off my music. The music industry is so different. But I am very grateful for my success in my career. The Iowa music scene is so important. I consider myself a pretty simple person and my goal is to gain the respect from the people that I admire.”
Is there something that keeps a musician going, playing events and making appearances?
“It’s not an external thing that keeps me going,” Matt explained. “It’s inside of me. It’s something that says, this is what I am supposed to do. It’s my passion. I can’t not do it.”
Any heroes in this musician’s life?
“My dad and my granddad are my heroes,” he answered. “How they were as men and people is incredible. Sometimes when I get frustrated, I think about the kind of men they were in my life and they taught me how to be a good husband and father. It’s my number one job to make sure that my son is a good person. I hope that down the road, people will talk about me as a good person, rather than a good musician.”
“If people who listen to my music enjoy what they are hearing, I am doing OK,” he added. “I am not inventing anything new, it’s pretty much the cultural history of America. And I take a lot of pride in that traditional American art form.”
Matt admits that he stays pretty busy, with work and the farmstead and making music, but added that if anyone needs a performer, the best way to contact him is on his website at www.mattwoodsmusic.com.
Passing on his talents to his young son, according to Matt, will probably happen.
“Our son has had my music in his face since the day he was born,” explains Matt. “He likes to play around with the guitar when I am playing it, and with Rachel’s talents, I imagine that as he is older, we will see talent come out in him too.”
Making a living doing what you love, with those you love around you on the land that you love is this young musician’s dream.
Many may dream about it and some get to live it. In the case of Matt Woods, he is definitely living his dream.