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May 21 / Josh

Improv, Kale, and Chickens, Oh My!


Today’s interview features Matt Butler, who doubles as drummer for the Hot Buttered Rum String Band and the conductor/brainchild behind the Everyone Orchestra. EO features a rotating lineup of musicians, creating completely improvised performances at every show. Similar to this concept of expecting the unexpected, Matt is creative with his food and relies on fresh, homegrown products. Did we mention he has chickens in his backyard?

The Recipe Behind Everyone Orchestra

We’ve been doing this for almost 10 years now and it’s been constantly blossoming. There are new ways of bringing together performers at every level: master musicians and some beginner musical levels. Everyone is on the same page saying ‘whatever happens, happens.’”

Father and Son

“I was the youngest of four kids and I started making my own meals pretty young. I have a 9 year old son and the first thing he learned how to cook was scrambled eggs and popcorn. That was the first thing I learned how to cook, too, which is pretty cool.”

Some Favorite Creations

“I’ll make macaroni and cheese and to make it special I’ll add avocado, onions, black beans, cilantro and salsa.”

“One of my favorite things to do with kale is to steam it lightly. I like to eat it as plain as possible. I also wrap food in it, raw. I’ll get some thai food and throw it in a nice clean kale leaf.”

“One of my specialities is popcorn. I cook in corn oil, then use olive oil, sea salt and nutritional yeast, the bigger flakes. This is one of the first things I make when I get home from the road. There’s something about a big bowl of popcorn that’s very grounding for me.”

“Another favorite recipe is kale from my garden, garlic and maybe some onion. Fry that up with some olive oil. Then make a thin omelette with fresh eggs and the kale/garlic mixture. I don’t have a real recipe, its kind of like Everyone Orchestra. I kinda look at what’s there and try to make something. I do a lot of that. I do stir frys with beef, using a potato slicer. It makes thin, thin slices.”

Photo by Michael Weintrob (thumbnail also)

Homegrown in PDX

“We live in Portland. We have a garden, now for the second year. Last year we didn’t buy any greens from the middle of May to the middle of September. This year, its been a little cooler so our greens are behind where they were at this point last year. The kale turns into a huge bush, and it keeps giving. It feeds the whole household. We eat a ton of it. We grow other things too, but kale is a staple.”

“It’s a conundrum. We’re all part of this system that is very broken. We’re all guilty of getting food that comes from very far away. We are trying to grow as much of our own food as possible, getting connected with our food source. We have four chickens. We get our eggs from them, give them organic feed. Its pretty cool, we maximize chicken manure to use in our garden.”

Favorite Restaurants

“We go to Vita Cafe on Alberta St. It works for us and the kids. They have a lot of vegan and vegetarian options.”

Noble Rot is an incredible, upscale restaurant. They have a rooftop garden and in the summer they provide almost all the vegetables that go into their dishes. ”

“There is this ramen place in Eugene, Oregon that I’ve been turned on to. As soon as I get near there my mouth starts to water. They make all homemade noodles and Toshi’s Ramen just does it right.”

“In Denver, CO there’s a breakfast joint, named Masterpiece Deli. I go and get an egg muffin kind of thing. They use blue cheese or hollandaise. I love going there.”

“When I’m in the Bay Area, I try to hit Café Graditude as much as possible.

HBR in 2009, Photo by Matt Sharkey

Worst Meal Ever

“Deep fried mozerella meatballs. They were breaded meatballs that had mozeralla in the middle. I had it at a festival, maybe at Wakarusa. There was something about it that was too much.”

Makes Tonight A Wonderful Thing

“I’m not the most lyrically oriented in the band, but their name, Hot Buttered Rum, is after an alcoholic drink. There are songs about alcohol, like Honky Tonk Tequila and 3.2 . The food doesn’t permeate the music as much as the alcohol. I am liking a good shot of tequila. There are guys in the band that are complete tequila aficionados.”

It’s festival season, and Matt is on tour with both of his projects. For his summer dates with Hot Buttered Rum, click here. To check out the dates where Matt is conducting Everyone Orchestra check the website here.

Check out an awesome Hot Buttered Rum show available for free download at the Internet Archive here. While we’re at it, be sure to check out this Everyone Orchestra show from 2006 featuring members of Hot Buttered Rum and the String Cheese Incident.

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