AILI and SZLACHETKA Appearing Tonight!

January 27, 2019


Sounds like the billboard for a Polish/Norwegian Opera…but it was Sarah and Matt appearing live at The Listening Room of Mobile!


It would have been impossible for a Polish or Norwegian Opera to be any better than the show I witnessed last night.


These two just belong together; in my eyes they are a perfect fit. Both very talented and both just gorgeous people (inside and out).


Matt started the show and I could not take my eyes off him. He has a voice that pulls me in like a moth to a flame. I don’t think I could even blink for fear I might miss something. I listened closely as he sang “Ready to Run Again”….the line that got me was, “She cries for help without making a sound…she’s ready to run again.” 


He had me at “I’m Matt!”….it was a pleasure to meet him for the first time. I had researched him in preparation for seeing him in person…didn’t think it possible but he was even better in person. 


Matt told a couple of stories that stuck with me. One was about his visit to the Martin Guitar factory…Martins are his favorite. There was a 1947 Martin that had belonged to Hank Williams (also his favorite)…He was handed the guitar to play just as the room filled up with on-lookers who were anxious to hear him….in this Utterly thrilling magical moment of life…he was frozen with fear which caused a temporary, yet frightening, wipe out of his memory of guitar playing and of Hank Williams songs….it is the biggest nightmare for any professional musician…but he is thankful and I am thankful it was a TEMPORARY loss. He played that 1947 Martin that once had Hank Williams’ fingers on it…says he will not fully wash his left had again (but the right one is very clean).


He melted my heart when he spoke lovingly about his first nephew’s birth. I believe he said “Vincent is his name”…he changed my world”.  


We all interpret songs in our own way (often based on our own experiences. Words mean different things to different people). My interpretation was that he was so filled with joy and love for the birth of his nephew it caused him to reflect on life and how he spends his time…it seems to have more depth of purpose now. As a result he will be a better man… he will do his best in life. He was inspired to write “Giving back the best of me”. As he sang the words…”You are the sun setting to the west of me, You are the one turning out the lights so I can dream”…”Maybe I could be your only rider…Would you have me…..cause I GOT YOU AND YOU KNOW IT!”


Well I can’t speak for the others in the room…but YES, HE GOT ME AND I KNOW IT!


Sarah joined him and sang back-up for some of his songs…he returned the favor and joined her for some of hers. Matt has a great affinity for Tom Petty songs (as do I)…he explained a connection they had through a producer who has passed away now…since that time he makes an effort to sing at least one Tom Petty song at every show in this man’s honor. 


Sarah’s portion of the show was also magnificent. She started it with one of my favorite Sarah Aili songs, “Arsonist”. Once before I wrote my take on this song and my thoughts stuck with Sarah ever since. It is a wonderful song. Its presents an emotion that is familiar to most of us…you met someone who set you on fire, so why not call them an arsonist…in this context an arsonist is a good thing….the bad part is sometimes your fire holds a lot more heat than theirs…or vise versa….then there will be pain and heartbreak.  I love these words, “Strike a match, make a flame, gasoline and you’re to blame…you’re an arsonist” 


Do yourself a favor, google “arsonist by sarah aili” and listen…it is worth your time I promise.


Sarah said she has never married, so of course, never divorced and has no idea how that must feel. However, her parents did divorce and she knows from a child’s perspective…thankfully her parents have grown to be good friends all these years later.


She wrote a song called “Both Hands” that beckons the question, if you truly love someone, why not hold onto their heart with both hands….it is or should be so important that you would not risk losing their love, losing your grip on their heart…(if you work on it every day, that work will pay off ten-fold…great advice, hold them with BOTH hands and you never lose that love).


She co-wrote this song with Les Hall (a wonderful guy originally from our Mobile area but currently living in Nashville). This song asks---


“Was it a matter of convenience….was there nothing between us….was it all in my head”

“you were holding my heart and what I don’t understand is why you never used both hands”


The message in this song:

If you love a person, truly love them, hold on with both hands; give it all you got if you want it to last. I say that is pretty good guidance for a lasting relationship.


Well, this was a show to remember. I was in that room with some of the best people who have ever drawn a breath on this planet. All were friends, all were happy to be there and we took our picture together to commemorate the night (along with Sarah and Matt).


Thank you Jim Pennington and The Listening Room of Mobile 

Thank you Sarah Aili for your beautiful self and beautiful music

Thank you Matt Szlachetka for your beautiful self and beautiful music

Thank you to those who came and opened their hearts to great music again.


Juanita Smith

Music Mom





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