Biography

DIRT ROAD OPERA 

 

The term “you never know what the future holds” is as good a touchstone as there is when it comes to understanding the genesis of Canada’s  roots band, Dirt Road Opera. 

 

That the members in the group, Barry Mathers, Rachel Matkin, Jim Ryan and Robert Bailey have intersected in a multitude of scenarios over the past quarter century serve as the foundation for this group, whose members officially announced their union a few months before the world was hit with a pandemic. 

 

At the core of Dirt Road Opera is an abundance of experience and talent that has been recognized by music lovers, the media, concert promoters, and festival producers across the country for over a couple of decades. 

 

Mathers the guitar playing, tunesmith was the heartbeat of JUNO nominees The Cruzeros for well over a decade and the Kelowna-based band enjoyed the kind of consistent chart successes and television exposure, that helped drive a rigorous touring schedule that found the group touring coast to coast and also dipping down to U.S. markets, Europe and Mexico. 

 

Matkin was standing in the spotlight as a kid in the late eighties, singing her heart out in her family band at many of the major country festivals and concert stages in western Canada. Everyone side stage and backstage, as well as the paying public, immediately recognized the young lady was a force to be reckoned with. They were all right in their initial assessment of Matkin’s talents and by the mid-nineties she had earned a JUNO nomination as Canada’s Best Female Country Vocalist.  Thanks to the material on her album Living Beyond Our Dreams she also enjoyed the success of five high charting singles. 

 

Ryan’s deep resume as a session player and first call bassist for the likes of Idle Eyes, Payolas, Patricia Conroy and Doug Bennett of Doug and the Slugs fame, is a small part of the bass player’s impressive career and he was an obvious choice to join Matkin and Mathers in Dirt Road Opera. Jim melds his classical training with colour, passion and imagination whenever he plays. 

 

Multi-instrumentalist Robert Bailey brings his many talents to the band. Pedal steel, guitar, keyboards, bass, and banjo are all part of his musical arsenal. His career in the BC music scene began in 1979, eventually moving from local bands to playing keyboards and touring Canada with JUNO award winning songwriter and performer Paul Janz. Rob's keyboard session work appears on albums by Alice Cooper, Queensryche, Jimmy Page and David Coverdale.  

 

Despite all the setbacks that come with a major shut down of society, the band soldiered on, and some of the fruits of their labours are in full view on the band’s website.  

 

“We enjoy playing for listening audiences that understand what we’re doing. When we launch into an a cappella version of Townes Van Zandt’s If I Needed You or Barry’s Hell Has Come to Town, which is about the devastating fire that wiped out the town of Lytton, you need to be in front of the right audiences, listening audiences,” says Matkin on behalf of the group. We really love playing folk/roots festivals and theatres, whether they're big or small.

 

Superior music….. with a fresh approach to a timeless sound. It’s coming to a town near you soon…………….. that’s Dirt Road Opera. 

Logos and Photos

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Videos

 Seven Shells
Rattlin' Bones

Tell the Truth

This Lucky
Horseshoe Turn
Nowheresville

  DRO Live @ The Frank Venables Theatre • Oliver, BC  Feb. 2021