Multi-instrumentalist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Starting out as a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin, won the banjo contest at Winfield Kansas in 1990, and took the mandolin award there the following year. Flinner's decision to focus on eight-stringed instruments, especially the mandolin, was primarily a function of opportunity. He explains, "I was getting more work on the mandolin." Sugarbeat, an eclectic quartet that also featured banjoist Tony Furtado, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Demerath and bassist Sally Truitt allowed him the opportunity to master the mandolin in a contemporary folk and bluegrass context.
Flinner is now widely considered one of the hottest mandolin players on the acoustic scene. He tours actively with his own group and as a member of the new acoustic trio Phillips, Grier & Flinner with bassist Todd Phillips and guitarist David Grier. Flinner's 1998 debut solo release The View From Here drew on such diverse inspirations as Miles Davis, David Grisman and Celtic artists the Bothy Band and was one of the most highly praised acoustic albums of the year. In the words of Bluegrass Now, Flinner's debut was "a musical feast for the ears."