Oshkosh Musician’s Love of Music Lives on in Friends

February 14, 2005

Members of the Fox Valley music community were shocked to learn of the recent death of 30-year-old musician and promoter Matthew Golay.

His death early the morning of Feb. 5, due to a heart defect known as myocardial bridge, was a huge blow not just because of his youth and promise, but also because he had become a substantial presence on the scene, a savvy musician who shared his knowledge through the management company he called TMJ Productions.

Besides managing and promoting bands, he had his own career, hosting open mic gigs and playing solo and duo gigs with friends such as Andy Lubahn of Andy's Automatics, one of the bands in Golay's growing stable of young independent bands.

"Not only did we lose our band manager and direction for right now, I lost my best friend," Lubahn said. "I think Andy's Automatics are going to understand pretty soon just how hard Matt Golay worked for us."

"He was so happy with how successful his company was," said Barb Collins, Golay's girlfriend. "He worked so hard. He had a little office in his house. There were many nights I would call him late at night and he was still pounding away, making fliers for a band, booking for people. It got him so excited to be able to do that."

Two of Golay's best friends credit him for getting them seriously involved in music.

Before he met Golay, Lubahn said he didn't know if he could play in front of people.

"There was a time when I just played music for me, just around the house and maybe for friends," he said.

Lubahn said someone brought him to one of Golay's open mics, and he performed a couple of songs.

"Right away he grabbed a hold of me and said, ‘Hey, would you come back and be our featured musician next week?'" he said. "I wonder about that meeting. I don't know if I would be doing what I'm doing now."

Dave Rause and Golay had been looking forward to celebrating three years of hosting the Tuesday night open mic next month at the Paper City Pub in Neenah.

"He's the one who brought me back to playing," Rause said. "I played through high school and college then entered the working world and I was done. But he brought me to love it again. It was just fun getting in the pocket with him. That made the whole night."

Rause said Golay was all about live music.

"I don't think he ever put a dollar in a jukebox," he said. "When we'd go out, we didn't go somewhere unless they had a live band. To him, that was the music."

Golay and Rause played a gig Feb. 4 at the Cedar Bar & Grill in Neenah. Instead of driving back to his home in Oshkosh, Golay decided to spend the night at Rause's Neenah home because they had plans for the next day.

Some time during the night, Golay got up and collapsed in a hallway and died.

Winnebago County Coroner Barry Busby described the myocardial bridge that killed Golay.

"Usually the coronary arteries go into the fat part of the heart on the outside," he said. "In this case it was into the inside in the muscle itself. Don't know if he was born with it or it just happened. Sometimes it happens with athletes, too. It was a natural condition."

"We will all be going and having our hearts checked," said Golay's only sibling, Christina Golay, who is a year older. Golay died on her birthday.

"He had called a few days before to say happy birthday. That was Matt," she said. "He really loved his family. He wanted to make it in the community where he grew up so he could be near his family."

Golay still lived in the Oshkosh home where he grew up, next door to maternal grandparents John and Marion Sanders. John died in May.

"They were like second parents to us," Christina said. "Grandma relied on Matt a lot. He wanted to stay close to home to be there for her."

"People are just in shock," said Rob Buksyk, owner of Paper Valley Pub.

He described Golay as a musician who tended to business and generously shared his knowledge with others who came to the open mic.

"He was very kind," he said. "Novice musicians would come down, ask when he would teach them a certain song. He'd take them into a corner during a break and teach them the chords. He was trying to get some of these younger bands to understand how to be professional. Because of his experience — the guy played everywhere — he tried to lend some of that experience to younger up-and-coming bands."

Andy's Automatics were scheduled to play the PCP the night of Golay's death. The band went ahead and played a rip-roaring show in Golay's honor.

"A lot of people were very comforted by that," Buksyk said. "They wanted to go somewhere, do something. They didn't want to sit at home. It was incredible that they could put on a show of that magnitude, of that energy, with all that on their minds."

Oshkosh drummer Mark Powers was on tour in China and Thailand when he learned of Golay's death via e-mail.

"The three of us zipped back as soon as we heard about it," he said. "I played a lot of shows with the guy. It definitely hit pretty close to home."

Powers was one of the many talented local musicians to pass through the ranks of The Matthew Golay Band, the band Golay put to rest when he started concentrating on TMJ Productions.

"He was a great band leader," Powers said. "He was always really fair to the guys in the band and looking out for them and wanting everyone to do the right thing. He always wanted everybody to pitch in at the end of the night to tip the bar.

"I heard him talked about many times as the hardest working musician around," he said. "The nights he wasn't playing with his band, he had a solo gig or a duo gig at an open mic somewhere. That's what he did 24/7. He did what he did with passion."

Golay's friends are planning a tribute concert in early April to celebrate his life, with time and place to be determined.

"We're going to do it right," Rause said.

Because Golay and many other independent musicians operate without the safety net of health insurance, Rause said the tribute concert might become a benefit for an organization such as Music Cares, which helps musicians get wellness visits and see doctors when they need to.

"That would be a good legacy for him," he said.

"I want Matt's legacy to live on," Barb Collins said. "I want people to know how great he was. I just want people to know how loving and passionate he was about everything he did in his life. He will be dearly missed."

You can expect the tribute concert to close with Golay's song "Thank You," which he used to close every show.

"I got out of bed this morning
And the sun was shining bright
I stuck my head out the window and screamed
Thank you for this life
I'll take it day by day
I'll never ask for too much
I'll live my life the way I like
And I'll never give it up.
Thank you for this life."

The Post-Crescent - 2/14/2005
Jim Lundstrom can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 374, or by e-mail at

Posted by Jeff Sanders