Island musician set to unleash his rhythm at farmers market

Matt Lome will perform on Aug. 22 at Mercerdale Park.

On a recent afternoon, Matt Lome was seated under the pergola at Mercerdale Park and excitedly chatted away about his love of music and art.

The 10-year Mercer Island resident, who settled in these parts after spending a multitude of his youth and adult years in the Chicago area, feels just as comfortable holding an acoustic guitar in his hands as he does with his fingers gripped around a paintbrush.

Lome, a 48-year-old singer-songwriter, will be entertaining people with his folk-rock tuneage from the same pergola spot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 22 during the nearby Mercer Island Farmers Market. He’s stoked to be playing the market for the third time, as well as filling the opening slot prior to a set by LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends at 6 p.m. Sept. 2 at the Mostly Music in the Park event under the Mercerdale pergola.

Mercer Island has a friendly vibe, said Lome, who hopes to connect with people with some of his original Bob Dylan-esque storytelling songs at the market. Along with those Lome-penned songs from his new album, “Ever Since,” he will mix in some covers from well-known folk artists.

Lome aims to reach people across the full age spectrum with his music.

“I call it sort of family music, where the adults will really like it, but the kids will, too,” he said. “They’re not songs about rainbows or ribbons or butterflies. There’s nothing about it that’s a kids’ album, but just like a Beatles album where there’s just something likeable about it even to 6-year-olds.”

Lome, who teaches the fundamentals of guitar in the intuitive sense to kids and adults, knows that market-goers are there mainly to buy groceries, but he has a plan to rein them into his musical world.

“If I fall into a pocket of music performance that I myself am feeling entertained and that I myself feel I’m not just trying to spit it out — but I’m really caught up in the songs themselves — then I think it does better,” he said of transmitting his musical passion to the people.

Lome first began strumming an acoustic guitar at the age of 14 and has hung in there ever since, he said with a smile. Over the years, he played electric guitar in some bands, but has always felt more connected to the acoustic. When band members heard his strong acoustic stylings, they asked him to unplug his electric and step into the acoustic role.

“Acoustic is so rhythm based. It’s like a drum attached to strings,” said Lome, adding that drums were his first instrument. “I give a lot of pride in keeping just a strong rhythm hand. I’m not a god of rhythm or anything like that, but really play the chords cleanly and keep the rhythm real groovy.”

When he got older, Lome began playing at some Chicago blues clubs and stepped onto the folk-rock scene in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

On Mercer Island, Lome joined the Arts Council and helped with booking bands, hiring a sound technician and more with the Mostly Music in the Park series. His term ended last year — and the series was canceled due to the pandemic — but he’s back volunteering his time for this year’s three concerts.

On the art front, Lome has released a new book, “The Absolute Truth about Woodpeckers,” and he also teaches drawing and painting to kids. Recently, Lome had one of his paintings featured in an online gallery.

Through his music and art, Lome considers himself a storyteller and his book offers some vital insight into making one’s way in the world.

“There’s a teaching lesson in there just about adaptability and acceptance and you can’t change nature but you can change yourself,” he said.

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Matt Lome’s latest musical and literary offerings. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo

Matt Lome’s latest musical and literary offerings. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo