Matt Rutherford's unlikely trip around the Americas reconnected him with Spoke In Wordz
Matt Rutherford spent more than 300 days sailing around the world in a small boat. Many thought this dubious expedition was impossible, but not only did he complete it, he's now the subject of a new documentary, a film that his old friend and former classmate, Spoke In Wordz, has been tasked with soundtracking. Rutherford is the first person in history to sail around both continents of the Americas alone, and he did it with no radar and no previous sailing experience or any formal aptitude. "No one has ever done it," notes Amy Flannery, director of A Red Dot on the Ocean, the documentary being produced by sailing expert Tory Salvia. "And I don't think anyone else ever will."
"All the people I've met connected to Matt are really good people, and it has made it a really fun time," says Flannery, while also marveling at Rutherford's qualities and resilience despite a turbulent childhood. "As a kid, I know he had it rough and didn't find the right place until he found a place like Eagle Rock."
Eagle Rock is where Rutherford met Hector Garcia Jr. (better known around here as Spoke in Wordz). "He actually showed me how to burn CDs and put them out," Spoke recalls. "We did two projects together while I was at Eagle Rock." A hip-hop enthusiast, Rutherford had sailing on his mind even back then, Spoke recalls. "He would say things in his raps like 'Columbus didn't discover America, the world was already colonized,'" says Spoke. "And I would be shocked, like, 'Whoa, man. Columbus discovered the world.'"
A map detailing Matt Rutherford's route around the Americas.
Rutherford emphasizes the importance of music in both of their lives. "We dropped a project together in '99 and in 2000. I know that music is important to both of us," he says. "I know we both went down different paths, but I am happy he has been successful in music."
After Salvia heard some old tracks Rutherford and Spoke had done together, the director reached out to Spoke In Wordz with an offer to produce music for the film. "I was excited," says Spoke. "That's my friend, and I grew up with him, so I said, 'Yeah, let's do it.' We dug up old material in one of his old boats, from stuff we did in high school and the song I actually produced, they used for the trailer. I actually made the beat and I put so much time and effort into it. It took sixteen years but it did something. It blows my mind."
LateNite Ent's producer DMD was called upon by Spoke to help him create the music for the project. DMD produced all original material for the title track after an ill-fated attempt by Spoke to include the aspect of a sea shanty, the historic songs sung by sailors and pirates. "I showed him the sample stuff I was listening to, and immediately he got on the keys and strings. He really wanted to create something cinematic."
Spoke followed Rutherford's ten-month journey on his blog. "I was really worried," he remembers. "In Annapolis, there are people who study and spend a lot of money learning how to sail. Matt is just kind of self -taught and educated on the subject, so it was going to be dangerous."
"If you told any sailor he was going to go through Cape Horn in a fiberglass sailboat by himself," Salvia declares, "they would of have said, "No way. That's crazy.' But Matt was motivated by more than just himself."
The motivation was to raise funds for Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating in Annapolis, which provides boating opportunities for people with disabilities, for which they raised over $120,000, according to Rutherford. A Red Dot on the Ocean is nearly finished and should see release some time next year. "Through hard work and sacrifice," Rutherford concludes, "you can do anything." His trip certainly is evidence of that.
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music