MATT ROBBINS BY TAYLOR KENT
Matt Robbins hasn’t had an off day in 26 days. He tells me in a matter-of-fact manner, not looking for any sympathy. For island musicians playing night after night in the heat of the lowcountry summer, maintaining such a rigorous schedule is practically unheard of. But Matt isn’t the type to complain. In his soft-spoken voice, he remarks, “Most of the time, I know I’m blessed.” With his signature golden “man bun” and expert acoustic guitar skills, Matt Robbins has quickly made himself a staple of the island music scene. Despite only being a full-time islander for two years, he is now well-known and well-respected amongst the Hilton Head community. Robbins was first introduced to the island in 2014. He was halfway through with obtaining his undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky, and school was out for the summer. A connection from his college happened to own a Hilton Head restaurant, and offered Robbins a nightly stint playing music at what was then Steamers Seafood in Coligny Plaza. Robbins accepted, and so began his first summer on Hilton Head. He promptly saw what’s so special about the lowcountry and how musicians can use the island to their advantage. As Robbins put it, he enjoyed treating music “as a career instead of a hobby”. He’s been back on the island every summer since, and moved to Hilton Head permanently in 2017. An accounting major, Robbins describes himself as predominantly “left-brained”, a rarity for the stereotypical musician. He grew up in Richmond, Kentucky, and was highly interested in academics. In middle school band class he picked up his first instrument, the alto saxophone, and later taught himself to play guitar and drums. Matt played soccer growing up and was on his high school’s swim team, but as he got older, he found music taking more and more precedence in his daily
PHOTO BY ROB KAUFMAN
interests. By age 15, he began booking local gigs around his hometown. At 17, he was having “rockstar daydreams” of packed venues. Upon his high school graduation, he found himself drawn to the highly renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. However, at the urging of his parents, who wanted him to pursue more conventional studies, Matt instead enrolled at Western Kentucky. Dreams of Berklee, though, still remained prominent in his head. He decided to apply after completing his bachelor’s degree. Matt considers the best day of his life to have been the day he received his acceptance letter from Berklee. In 2016, he made the move to Boston for what he later would view as the most beneficial time of his music career. Logistic by nature, Matt thrived tackling the music theory he was taught at Berklee, and gained a newfound appreciation for the mathematics and patterns of music. His time in Boston also led him to discover new genres of music that continue to serve as influences for him, such as jazz and neo soul. After a year at Berklee, he returned to the island to officially become a full-time musician. He’s been gigging almost constantly ever since. When it comes to dedication, Matt Robbins is unmatched. The next accomplishment he plans to check off his list is to release an EP of original music, his first published work. Robbins is hoping to use the autumn months as recording time, although his gig schedule will hardly slow down. As the house musician of Coligny’s Sandbar, he will continue entertaining there five nights a week through the fall. You can catch Matt at the Sandbar, on the beach playing volleyball, or at Conviction Training Facility, and you’ll be met with a gentle smile and affable conversation by someone who is considered a friend to all. TASTEOFHILTONHEAD.COM
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