July 24, 2017

Webster student Matthew Lesch feels the blues

A video game where gamers play a fake guitar inspired Webster University freshman Matthew Lesch to pick up a real one. That inspiration was the basis for a future in performing blues music around the St. Louis area.

“[Blues] has hit me in a way other music hasn’t,” Lesch said.

Lesch’s talent landed him a spot with popular St. Louis blues musician Big George Brock’s band. Lesch will have a portrait with Brock hung up in the National Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis. The museum is a non-profit organization that celebrates the genre as the “foundation of all modern American music.”

When he was 10, Lesch’s parents gave him the game “Guitar Hero” for Christmas. Lesch said playing the game encouraged him to pick up a real guitar and start playing.

Lesch started playing metal music, but his father, Chris Totty, introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

“Without the blues, there wouldn’t be any modern music like we have right now,” Lesch said.

Lesch took minor training at Tower Music in Fenton, Missouri, a full-service music store. Totty said Lesch’s teacher told him being able to play music is a skill people either have or do not have.  Lesch had it.

“I’ve been told by other musicians here in St. Louis he’s basically a prodigy at what he can do, and so young,” Totty said.

Totty said Lesch would not admit it, but he did not practice a lot while learning guitar. He said he thinks about the music and starts to play.

“He’s been doing this since he was a little kid,” Totty said. “He just thinks about it and then just kind of goes and does it.”

Lesch first performed in front of a crowd at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups with the blues band Kingdom Brothers. He was 15 when he first appeared on stage with the group.

Lesch first met Big George Brock at a gig. By this time, he had performed with other groups in the blues community and wanted to meet Brock, given his prominence in St. Louis. Brock had Lesch sit in on a couple of his shows before putting him on his payroll. Brock said blues is not a style of music that can be read from a book.

“Blues is about a feeling,” Brock said. “Matt can feel the blues, and he can play the blues.”

Lesch currently plays as part of Brock’s band, Big George Brock and the New House Rockets. They perform in music venues around the St. Louis area, including different festivals. They regularly perform at BB’s. In the band, Lesch is known as Matt “The Rattlesnake” Lesch.

“The most important thing [Brock] taught me is that the blues is nothing but the truth, and it will live on forever no matter how you look at it,” Lesch said.

Lesch heard about the painting being hung up in the National Blues Museum when on the phone with Brock. When Brock was going to get the painting hung, he wanted Lesch in it as well.

“Being one of the youngest to ever be put in the Blues Museum, I still can’t really grasp it,” Lesch said.

Lesch is a double major in education and mathematics at Webster. Lesch wanted to be a music teacher, but felt being a math teacher would have better results when looking for a job. However, he continues pursuing music and playing with Brock.

“Music in general tells great stories,” Lesch said. “Without blues and music, I don’t think the world would be the same.”

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