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Photo of Matthew Cramer
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, harmonica, misc.
Jams Attended:109
First jam:05/01/1992
Last jam:11/19/2016

I first heard of the Sheep Fiends back in '92, though they had no name at that point, they were just a couple of friends jamming in their Sheridan Road apartment. They were making songs up and playing them. They invited me to come over but I declined, maybe because my guitar playing was so lousy.

But they wore me down. They told me: if you come over, you can play the guitar and sing and we've got chips and salsa! They really didn't mind that I couldn't sing that well and they were very friendly. What a great bunch of guys "Plays well with others" it probably said on their report card.

My third or fourth time I really had a blast. I sang a song, off the top of my head, about Chocolate; unfortunately the tape wasn't rolling. I went back for more. The concept was (and is) pretty simple. Bunch of people bring their instruments, set up and play. Usually one or two have songs or riffs they're eager to try out. These serve as rough scaffolding for the improvised ramblings and tangents of all shape and variety. The group is very open and welcomes new people and new ideas. Sometimes this makes for the most wonderful happy accidents, oftentimes a sort of low, gurgling rumble, somewhere between bad hangover and good orgasm.

A lot of musicians played with the band in those early years and many more since. Most played just once or twice and a few have been sort of a nucleus for this experiment. Somewhere along the way this loose assemblage of transient and steady musicians took the name Sheep Fiends. People never know quite what to say when I tell them that; they always look somewhat disturbed. "Makes you wonder, eh?" I say to them. "But I am not a Sheep Shagger. I've played with the Sheep Fiends a lot since the early 90s and I can assure you there is no bestiality involved.

I like playing with The Sheep Fiends. They give me a microphone and let me croon and are very discreet when I go flat (which is extremely rare, especially if you start out flat). They don't seem to mind when I try out very personal material which I like to do, and it's always exciting to see how this song, carefully brought to life in your bedroom, is transformed by the musicians around you.

At the moment only four or five people come to the monthly jams so you should come if you can. We've got chips and salsa!

September 24, 2001