Reporting on arts and entertainment in Oshkosh comes with a certain amount of perks.
How many other jobs revolve around attending concerts, touring art galleries and talking with people about their creative inspirations?
What's always surprised me about getting to know the people that seem larger than life when the spotlight is shining brightly on them up on stage is that the true artisans are grounded in a belief that they were not put on this earth to simply make money or entertain the masses, but they are here to leave a mark.
It's a rare breed of person who is willing to give up on their dreams of fame and fortune in the music business to provide guidance for a younger generation of artist. It's even more rare for a small-town musician to resist the urge to leave their roots behind in search of greener pastures. And the most rare of all is the artist who recognizes their place in the bigger picture.
Oshkosh's Matthew Golay was that rare breed of performer.
Sadly, he died of a heart attack on Saturday at the tender age of 30.
As word spread around Oshkosh last weekend of the news, the one word that kept coming up was "unbelievable."
He was so young. He was the poster child for a hard working musician.
There was a time Golay played more than 250 gigs a year. He built a fan base, not be trying to act like a rock star, but by treating everyone as a friend.
In recent years he concentrated more on songwriting than performing, more on helping improve the entire music scene, not just carve out a better niche for himself.
He started TMJ productions a couple years ago, after a decade of establishing himself as a musician by sleeping under pool tables and eating ketchup sandwiches just to play a gig. His goal was to provide a road map for younger musicians.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Golay only days before the sad news came in. While the story was supposed to be a profile on Golay the musician, he was more interested in talking about the Oshkosh music scene.
He stressed the importance of venues and bands working together to not only promote individual shows but to support all creative endeavors.
After we finished the interview, my phone rang a few minutes later. It was Golay saying he wanted to add one more bit of information.
"If you can squeeze it in somewhere, let bands and venues know I'm here to help," he said. "The music scene will continue to grow if we all work together. That's my goal—to see Oshkosh's music scene grow to new heights."
Losing a true creative like Matthew Golay is not going to be an easy obstacle for the Oshkosh music community to overcome, but his life will forever provide an example of how to approach entertainment.
Do it because you love the music. Do it because you love your fans. And mostly do it because the ground you break today will open doors for future generations of dreamers.
That's the legacy Matthew Golay leaves behind, now it's up to you to make sure it continues to grow.
Support local music —that's all Golay ever wanted and that's why he'll be forever missed.
Oshkosh Northwestern - February 10, 2005
Jeff Potts: (920) 426-6671 or firstname.lastname@example.org