Matisyahu at the Arsht Center January 18
The narrow gaps between letters on our keyboard are vile graveyards for curly black whiskers with hints of gray and even red. But all of this lost facial fuzz tells a story, one of stressful days at work spent anxiously twirling the hairs on our chinny chin chins in an effort to curb writers' block.
Sure, we could easily eliminate the mess by shaving. However, we're far too insecure to lose the beard. It's grown on us, both figuratively and literally, and has protected us over the years. And throughout most of his career, Matisyahu's beard has done the same.
"I don't really love shaving, to be honest with you," the introspective Spark Seeker MC says with a minimal touch of humor. "And since I'm off the road, I have a beard right now."
A little over a year ago, Matisyahu made headlines when he chopped off his facial hair and posted a picture of his newly clean-shaven face on Twitter. "At the break of day, I look for you at sunrise," he tweeted. "When the tide comes in, I lose my disguise."
The then-32-year-old singer had begun the process of "reclaiming" himself, "trusting [his] goodness and [his] divine mission" as he prepared for "an amazing year filled with music of rebirth."
"Letting go of the beard meant stripping back all the rules and regulations and trying to live more for myself," he tells New Times. "The main theme in my life during that time — during this time, even — is really about learning how to strip back as I try to learn how to do less. Less is more."
But Matisyahu's definition of less almost certainly differs from yours; he's still one of the busiest men in show business.
After last fall's college tour, the father of three celebrated Hanukkah with his annual Festival of Light tour, seven additional dates to close out the year. Miraculously, he also managed to move his family to the West Coast, where he's based now.
"I love New York — that's my home," Matisyahu says. "But I like California a lot. To be honest, I don't think I want to put up with any more winters. I like the sun and I like the rain too, but I hate the cold."
Musically, less means going acoustic. His just-released Spark Seeker: The Acoustic EP (available exclusively through digital retailers iTunes and Amazon) features acoustic versions of tracks from last summer's LP, Spark Seeker.
"It seems easier to find the emotion in acoustic songs," he says. "The acoustic thing is also about stripping back, trying to get back to the essence. There's a rock show; that's one thing. And then there's an acoustic show, which is a little bit more naked. It's more about the emotions in the voice and the songs, the words and the lyrics."
To support the new record, Matisyahu will embark on a cross-country acoustic tour, kicking things off at the Adrienne Arsht Center this Saturday, then wrapping up a month later in West Palm Beach.
In recent years, the former "Chassidic reggae superstar" has seemingly spent more time in South Florida than anywhere else. In October, Matisyahu played a Halloween gig at Seabreeze Amphitheater in Jupiter. Prior to that, the "King Without a Crown" acoustically rocked the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach with a stripped-down show to close out 2011.
So why is he such a big fan of Florida?
"It just works out that way," he says. "I have a good, strong fan base there."
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