By Travis Sharp
Photo By Stacey Bode
For many years, Dad’s Garage has had the good fortune to be acknowledged as Atlanta’s Best Improv Group, and sometimes even Atlanta’s Best Theatre Company, by Creative Loafing and its readers. I think I speak for the entire company when I say we are honored every time.
But back in the late 90s and early 2000s, that wasn’t enough. Dad’s Garage, under the questionable guidance of then Artistic Director Sean Daniels, was campaigning to win “Atlanta’s Best Hot Dog.”
Every year, when balloting time approached, we would encourage audiences, friends, and family to go out of their way to submit Dad’s as their vote for “Best Hot Dog.” Each year, unqualified Dad’s Garage would be a close contender in the category.
Out of frustration and good humor, Creative Loafing awarded Dad’s Garage Atlanta’s Best Imaginary Hot Dog in 2001. It was a nice gesture with an underlying message: “Here, you got what you wanted. Now please stop.”
The patient staff at Creative Loafing was onto us. Thus, our attempts to win in unqualified categories in 2002 went nowhere.
So in 2003, we took a different tack. Dad’s Garage was clearly not going to win in an inappropriate category. But who said “Dad’s Garage” had to win?
We set our sites on another highly coveted category “Best Local International/World Music Act.” The plan: score a victory for a world music act that didn’t actually exist.
Thus it was that “Matt Horgan and the Salsa Trio” was born.
Matt Horgan is notable for being exceedingly funny, eating enormous amounts of cured meats, and being one of the least musically inclined members of the Dad’s Garage Ensemble.
The Salsa Trio is notable for being one of our favorite starters at Taqueria del Sol.
We knew that the good people at Creative Loafing were on to us. So we had to cover our tracks. Anejo Reposado and Erth B. Awesome (portrayed by Chris Blair and me) joined Matt Horgan for a photoshoot involving multiple costume changes. (Thanks Stacey Bode.)
Using those pics, we created a band website complete with albums, bios, a discography, and a tour calendar (I hope you can make our regular gig at the Lilburn O’Charley’s).
Confident that we had covered our tracks — at least enough to satisfy a cursory web search — we launched our new campaign: Matt Horgan and the Salsa Trio for Best Local International/World Music Act. No offense to any local world music bands, but I get the feeling we didn’t need that many votes to win, which we did.
A week after the Best Of issue came out, Creative Loafing’s Editor in Chief at the time, Ken Edelstein, was coming to Dad’s Garage for a show opening. Matt Horgan and the Salsa Trio “played” on the front porch of the theatre as he entered the theatre. Matt Horgan was playing the only instrument he was qualified to play: he shook an aspirin bottle while Chris Blair and I halfheartedly handled keyboards and guitars.
My favorite postscript to this story: Matt Horgan worked at Turner at the time. Someone in the organization caught wind of “his band’s” Best Of win, and published a congrats in their internal newsletter. So for the rest of his employment there, he had to pretend that he played in a salsa band.