Every group gets requests when they play and the Messengers are no exception. They usually try to play what the audience wants. Matteson in fact, sometimes seeks requests from the audience saying, "If there's anything you want to hear let us know, we only play requests we don't know."
When the old time banjo player was asked if he read music he said, "There ain't no notes on a banjo...you just pick it."
Sometimes things aren't what (or in this case where) they should be. The Messengers had a performance at Tanglewood Park (summer of 2001) that was organized by Alan Kirby. Richard Matteson thought it was at the Red Barn where the group played a St. Patrick's Day gig. Half of the band including Matteson showed up at the Red Barn where a wedding reception was being held. They set up and got ready to play for the reception but no one there seemed to know what was going on. Eventually it was time to play and the other half of the band was missing. They were at a shelter waiting. Someone came and checked the Red Barn and Matteson and the other band members hurried over to the shelter to play (albeit a few minutes late).
When country superstar Roy Clark was in town playing a concert at Reynolds Auditorium with his band, Richard Matteson was escorting him to an autograph signing at Hanes Mall. Since they weren't going to stay long, Matteson parked at the curb instead of pulling into a parking space. When Clark and Matteson returned to his car a Hanes Mall security officer was writing Matteson a ticket. When she recognized Roy Clack she said, "Aren't you Roy Clark-I'm a big fan of yours." She tore up the ticket and got his autograph instead!
At the Christmas program at Silas Creek Manor, Rebecca Stevens dropped her fiddle bow onto a poinsettia that was decorating the perfomance area. Richard said "Thanks for putting a bow on the poinsettia, it looks a lot better".
On January 3rd, 2002 there was a snow storm and the Messengers were scheduled to play a hour and a half away at Lenoir NC. To the surprise and consternation of their family members they decided to make the trip anyway despite the 8" of snow. Richard drove, had the road to himself and made it in an hour flat.
Doc Watson and Richard Matteson were trying to figure out a song that Doc could play with the Messengers during the Oct. 5, 2002 concert in Eden, NC. Doc said, "How 'bout a blues?" and Richard said, "That's what we'll do- a blues in G." Doc came on-stage to play the Messengers and after he plugged in played a lick similar to the guitar lick in Bluegrass Boogie. Doc asked, "What are we gonna play?" and Richard replied, "Same thing you just played." Richard then copied Doc's lick and started off playing Bluegrass Boogie. Doc fell right in and although he never played the song, he ripped off two great lead solos.
Championship fiddler Debbie Gitlan teaches with Richard Matteson at Duncan Music Teaching Studios in WS. When Justin Swaim was asked to played before his school basketball game The Messengers went to play. Occasionally Debbie Gitlan plays with us and she happened to be free that night. The performance went well for a while until the players began getting restless and decided to start warming up. Imaging the sound of bluegrass with bouncing basketballs on a gym floor. After dodging an errant basketball Debbie had enough. She went to the principal and got the team to stop warming up while we played (well they almost stopped- there's always someone who has to bounce the ball). It was a performance I'm sure she never forget (or duplicate!).
When Richard Matteson packed his truck and hurried to a gig with The Messengers at Porky's Pit in Yadkinville, he didn't realize he had forgotten something. No it wasn't a mic or PA head- when he got there and needed to play in 30 minutes he didn't bring his guitar! Oops! Since no one there had an extra guitar he drove back to WS and got a guitar from Duncan Music. Luckily, he didn't get a speeding ticket!