Award-winning musician Matt Check ’00 played songs and shared stories on Facebook Live for more than 800 George School students, alumni, and fans on Thursday, April 2, 2020. The concert was in honor of his 20th reunion and was a way for our community to join together in this time of social distancing.
Part of what makes George School so incredible is our amazing alumni and Matt is no exception. During the concert, Matt played songs that he and his brother, Jonathan Check ’02, had written while at George School and in college. Matt even shared some photos of his friends and bandmates that he developed himself in his photography class at George School.
Matt grew up in a musical house, listening to soundtracks from The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof, to name a few. The brothers found their inspiration from listening to hours of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and believe it or not–Queen! Matt and Jon found their love for Queen after their mom took them to see Wayne’s World. If you’ve seen it, you know the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene.
While at George School, Matt learned to pick the banjo from his Geometry teacher, Bill Enos. Bill would play the banjo in class and at first, Matt didn’t like the sound. Soon after, Bill was teaching Matt how to play his now favorite instrument on the South Lawn.
“In the late 1990s, George School was a wonderful place to be yourself and be artistic.” Matt went on to talk about playing with his brother at George School and local venues, such as the Starbucks in Newtown.
The Check brothers wrote songs and performed together into their college years. Matt and Jon’s careers went separate ways after college but led them both to the state of New York. Matt and Jon still get together intermittently to play music. “I really wish that Jon and I could get together and do this again but the way the world works, there’s just not enough time.”
Along the way, Matt has been in a few different bands, including the Emmy nominated band, Gangstagrass. Today, Matt performs in a duo with Joanie Leeds. “We’re kind of cut from the same cloth. Joanie had a great voice and had a charisma that I really liked. I brought my banjo one time and we just connected right away.”
Joanie and Matt released their second album Sterling in 2019. To learn more about the duo, check out their website here.