Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers bring their New York hot jazz to The Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland on Thursday March 9, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Information and advance ticket sales are available at the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org and reservations to pay at the door can be made by calling 410-639-9133.
Sweet Megg and her wayfaring musicians transport listeners, not to the past but to a new world of their own making. The band is led by the charmingly enigmatic Sweet Megg, who imbues each song with her own mix of vocal melancholy and euphoria. The band incorporates elements of New Orleans swing, Harlem swing, Parisian cabaret, and gut bucket blues into a seamless whole. Saxophonist Ryan Weisheit reimagines a world where Sidney Bechet, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker blow side by side. Together Sweet Megg, Ryan, and all the Wayfarers create a world where hot jazz, a style that got its start in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century, flourished as Dixieland and then as traditional jazz, and is alive and well and living in New York City.
Upon returning to New York, she was fed up with the competitive nature of the modern jazz scene and gravitated towards the traditional scene that circled around Mona’s Tuesday night jam sessions in the East Village. The musicians of Mona’s Hot Four who ran the sessions introduced Megg to this new music in an old style and she soon found herself sitting in almost every week. There was also a Gypsy Jazz scene, popular in Brooklyn where she was living and she soon started gigging with a gypsy jazz group, The Bailsmen (two members of which became the rhythm section of The Wayfarers).
By late 2012, Megg was itching to start her own project incorporating all her favorite styles and influences. She loved singing songs popular with the Django Reinhardt scene, mixed with Billie Holiday numbers, some Edith Piaf, some blues, and lots of swing tunes that she had learned at Mona’s.
Luckily, within weeks of deciding to start her own band she met Ryan Weisheit. He had been going to Mona’s for over three years but somehow, they had not met until that November. Ryan grew up in the quaint college town of Normal, Illinois. He started playing saxophone when he was 10 and has never put it down for a day. For college, he left the Midwest and traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to study with one of his greatest influences, legendary alto saxophonist Bunky Green, focused on alto saxophone and like many saxophone players of that age, Charlie Parker.
When he got to New York he received his masters from Queen’s College studying under Antonio Hart, and hit the modern jazz scene of New York with a force. He regularly went to the local jam sessions in the West Village and Harlem but eventually became rather jaded by the scene. Much like Megg, he was uncomfortable with the competitive nature of the modern jazz scene. He got involved with the DIY scene of Bushwick and began playing saxophone in the horn section of Bad Credit No Credit, a gypsy punk band lead by Carrie-Anne Murphy. He also found himself regularly playing at Mona’s because it was a jam session that seemed cooperative, welcoming and very good fun. Megg and Ryan met and immediately decided they had to start a group together. Megg being a big Sidney Bechet fan, convinced Ryan not to sell his soprano sax and to start playing Bechet numbers in the group.
They found that in Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers, they inspire each other. Ryan has influenced Megg’s singing, introducing her to modern tunes she had never heard, to vocalese, and inspiring her to scat as much as the other soloists in the band. Megg helped inspire Ryan to take center stage. He no longer just plays background but helps lead the group with his mix of Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Sidney Bechet style saxophone playing. The influences from their different backgrounds have shaped Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers into a band that combines generations of jazz into one unified sound.
The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit dedicated to the arts, serving Rock Hall, MD and the surrounding region. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas and snacks are available at the bar.
The Mainstay is supported by ticket sales, fundraising including donations from friends and audience members and an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
The Mainstay now sells advance tickets online through Instant Seats, a Washington based firm. Information and advance ticket sales are available on the Mainstay’s website http://www.mainstayrockhall.org. Follow the Buy Tickets link to buy tickets at the advance price. If you would rather pay at the door, you can still make a reservation by calling 410-639-9133.
Upcoming Mainstay performances include:
March 9 Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers
March 13 Mainstay Monday: Host Joe Holt welcomes Marc Dykeman on guitar and vocals and Mike Buccino on bass
March 15 Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
March 18 Zoe & Cloyd
March 25 Chuck Redd and the Bucket Brothers
March 31 The High and Wides