WEST DUNDEE – He’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll and a whole lot of entertainment.
Algonquin native Matt Vrba returns to the area to perform at RocHaus in West Dundee.
The Jacobs High School graduate is coming up on the release of “The Fall,” his eighth album, this October. Vrba had many titles before turning music into a full-time gig about eight years ago. Construction worker, waiter and cruise ship performer fill part of Vrba’s résumé.
Vrba’s path to music wasn’t an obvious one for him; he’s didn’t come from a musical family and didn’t enjoy the piano lessons he was forced to take.
“I absolutely hated it,” Vrba said. “I used to hide behind the couch when it was time to go. I think it’s the whole thing where you hate whatever your parents tell you to do. It wasn’t until I made the choice for myself that it made sense.”
Vrba picked up a guitar at age 12 because he said it “looked cool.” He took a few lessons and began writing music when he got to college. After his first show as part of a nine-day tour in San Francisco, Vrba said he was hooked.
Now on the road nearly 150 days a year, Vrba knows his talent for songwriting and performing only got him so far.
“The biggest thing I think for anyone that has this degree of success is to approach it as a business,” Vrba said. “Talk to people that know it more than you and have more experience. It’s not just innate talent. The actual stepping up on stage is the fun part, but that’s about 1 percent of the job.”
The 42-year-old has done stints in several cities since leaving the area in 1995 for Northern Arizona University, but now calls Nashville, Tennessee, home with his 4½-year-old Great Pyrenees puppy, Lyric.
Vrba has toured across the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe, sharing the stage with many well-known artists such as Josh Turner, David Lee Murphy, James Otto, Chris Young, Chuck Wicks, Joe Nichols, Randy Rogers, Jessica Andrews, Ira Dean, Steel Magnolia and Joanna Smith.
With no plans to slow down, Vrba said he started off much more as a performer but now finds himself leaning more toward the writing.
In September, Vrba won the Josie Music Award for Song of the Year for co-writing “Nobody Showed Me” for the Chad Williams Band.
“I find a lot of inspiration in normalcy and day-to-day events,” Vrba said. “The simplest things are the best inspirations. On the other side of that, if you experience something bad and find others relate to that experience, you know you’re not alone.”
Vrba said he looks forward to returning to his old stomping grounds and intends to see friends and family while he is in town.
Lake in the Hills resident Tony Imes has known Vrba for more than 30 years. Imes plans to attend the RocHaus performance, adding to an already long list.
“I’ve probably seen him 100 times. I even went with him on a small tour one time,” Imes said. “He’s got great stage presence. He’s energetic and fun to watch. He gets the crowd into it and he’s so versatile. He’ll play the guitar, sing and throw a harmonica around his neck and play that, too. He writes all of his own music, too. It’s a huge gift.”
Vrba and his Nashville-based band will perform on June 30 at RocHaus at 96 West Main Street in West Dundee .
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.rochaus.com for $10 or at the door the day of the show for $15. Artist Rachele Lynae, who has shared the stage with Keith Urban, Jamie O’Neil, The Band Perry and Kelsea Ballerini, will open the show.