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The Suitcase Junket

The Suitcase Junket

"A master of musical imagination." (NPR) The Suitcase Junket performs a blend of folk, blues & American roots, with a DIY/lo-fi aesthetic.

When and where

Date and time

Saturday, Jan 20, 2024
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Caffè Lena, 47 Phila St. Saratoga Springs, NY 12866



Hosted By

About this event

One of the defining features of The Suitcase Junket’s music is the use of unconventional instruments and repurposed materials. Matt Lorenz, who performs as The Suitcase Junket, is a homesteader currently living in rural Massachusetts. He often creates his instruments from salvaged items like old suitcases, gas cans, and other discarded objects, which adds a distinct and raw quality to the sound. Growing up in Cavendish, Vermont, Lorenz began playing piano at age five, and later took up violin, saxophone, and guitar. During his years at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, he studied music and adaptive instrument design, a pursuit that included building a prototype for a drummer who couldn’t use their legs, where they’d be able to play the bass drum and hi-hat through a system of pulleys. After college, he headed to Europe on a $150 plane ticket, ran out of money in Barcelona, and spent a year playing music in the streets. “That’s where I learned how to sing loud, which got me figuring out what my voice could do,” Lorenz notes. Once he’d returned to Amherst, he formed the band Rusty Belle with his sister Kate and, several years later, started The Suitcase Junket with the aid of a guitar he’d found in a dumpster. Lorenz chose the name as a nod to his longtime love of collecting old suitcases, including an antique that he’s refurbished into a bass drum, and to a secondary definition of junket, i.e. “a pleasure excursion.”

Matt Lorenz’s vision, manifest in The Suitcase Junket, developed in the tension between the grand and the solitary. Grand in its imagery, sound, and staging. Solitary in its thrift and self-reliance. What instruments he requires, Lorenz builds from scratch and salvage. What parts five players would perform, he performs alone. The spectacle of his one-man set bears constant comparison to legends of showmanship, brilliance, madness, and invention. 

While audiences are captivated by his solitary form and the show itself, Lorenz, who homesteads with rescue dogs and chickens in rural Western Massachusetts, is most serious about the songs. He has been building a catalog, writing a world into existence. Solitary on stage and on the road, his mind is crowded with characters, narratives, voices, imagery, sounds as wide and varied as mountain throat singers and roadhouse juke boxes, plus newsreels of the planet’s destruction and salvage. With his latest project, The End is New, which he refers to as “doom-folk,” Lorenz’s grand vision for the song overrides the how of it. 

“The things I value are under attack,” he reflects. “And writing songs and making art are the methods I have for responding. I have tried to use my observations and reflections of the world bent through my fun-house-mirror mind to show what I see; a planet stressed. ... There’s a heavy mix of hope and desperation in the sound and lyrically I was trying to be a mirror to society using truth, myth, confessions and stories.” In addition to his musical pursuits, Lorenz is passionate about coffee, gardening, bees, dogs, birds, mushrooms, tinctures, making his own wine and maple sugaring season.