Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Matisyahu Now Going Acoustic

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Matisyahu Now Going Acoustic

Article excerpt

WHO: Matisyahu.

WHAT: Acoustic guitar.

IN TOWN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, bergenPAC, 30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood; 201-227-1030 or bergenpac.org. $33.70 to $115.45 with fees.

ALSO PERFORMING: 8 p.m. Feb. 18, Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown; 973-539-8008 or mayoarts.org. $29 to $99, with $6 fee per order.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: matisyahuworld.com.

Prince changed his name. Cat Stevens changed his religion. But for sheer celebrity chutzpah, you have to admire Jewish reggae star Matisyahu. In an image-driven age, he changed the star's most valuable asset: his face.

Bluntly - for seven years, the beard was part of the brand.

"The beard for me was a lot of different things," says Matisyahu ("King Without a Crown," "One Day"). "A lot of things I lived."

Then, on Dec. 13, 2011, the world's biggest - OK, only - Hasidic pop superstar astonished fans by posting a picture of his clean- shaven face. "No more Chassidic reggae superstar," he wrote. "Sorry folks, all you get is me."

Folks who haven't tuned in for a while may also be surprised by Matisyahu's sound, as he brings his "Spark Seeker" acoustic tour to bergenPAC and the Mayo Performing Arts Center.

He's not merely shorn of beard, he's shorn of sound. The singer- songwriter, known for mixing hip-hop and beatbox elements into his performances, will be doing the whole thing acoustic. The live show follows in the wake of his "Spark Seeker" acoustic EP released last month, itself an offshoot of his 2012 "Spark Seeker" album.

"I knew that I would play the songs acoustically [at some point], because I do a lot of acoustic concerts," he says. "Every time I [write] a song, I expect there will be an acoustic version of that song at some point."

Joined Lubavitchers

The un-bearding of Matisyahu may strike some as nothing more than an extreme celebrity makeover. But it was in fact the climax of a long period of introspection, the singer says.

Born Matthew Paul Miller in West Chester, Pa., Matisyahu ("Gift of God") began to seriously explore his Jewish heritage after a high school-age sojourn to Israel, and at the age of 19, he joined the Orthodox Lubavitch movement. …

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