On first sight, Megg Farrell (frontwoman of the aptly titled Sweet Megg & The Wayfarers) may not appear to be a jazz singer. With her nose ring, considerable height, and youthful demeanor, she looks like she could just as easily be a member of a Bikini Kill cover band, rather than a purveyor of a more “old-timey” sound. Upon hearing Megg sing, however, one becomes easily swept into her aesthetics of banjos and rag-time, as frankly she has pipes like Billie Holiday.
Still, the 28-year old stresses that while her music forgoes the leanings of contemporary genres (I.E. Electronic musico, house, conventional rock, etc.), she also wants The Wayfarers to be accessible for millennials. “We’re all young and want to have fun,” Farrell explains. “Which is why we’ve found a particular home here in Brooklyn.” The ten-piece group all currently live in or around the borough, and have made a name for their brand both through their original songs, as well as energetic cover songs from artists like Duke Ellington and Django Reinhart.
Born in Manhattan but raised in New Jersey, Megg developed an interest in music from a young age, but didn’t pursue it seriously until her adulthood. While originally planning to work as a documentarian, she found her ventures as a musician to be more lucrative so continued in that direction. Now, her band has finally released a debut album, with feedback that’s been nothing short of flattering. Concluding a tour that took the group across America and Canada, Megg and the Wayfarers returned to Brooklyn to perform an album release show at Bushwick venue The Paper Box this past Thursday.
Once again, the band’s choice in venue for such a big show may come off as a surprise for those that know their music. The rugged neighborhood of Bushwick doesn’t naturally seem to adapt to the band’s charm, and The Paper Box isn’t necessarily a jazz venue. “We thought about doing it in a fancy club in Manhattan,” says Farrell. “Ultimately though, we had to find a location that would be convenient for all 10 of us on one day.” The group therefore ultimately settled on playing in Bushwick, but it was hardly a compromise for their character. The vibrant lighting evoked the band’s mantra for re-creating a new-age jazz-scene, and its size allowed for the band to usher in some other like-minded performers (including a segment that called for professional dancers).
“We wanted to make a good jazz album, but we also wanted to put out music that would appeal to people that weren’t jazz enthusiasts.” This is perhaps most evident in the fact that the album has a wealth of songs that attempt to recreate the genre known as Viper Jazz. The genre, which dates back to the 1930s, was defined for subtly referencing marijuana use, which obviously holds appeal for plenty of collegiate and post-collegiate Millenials. “Viper jazz is pretty funny, and they’re traditional songs,” explains Megg. “We brought it in because it meshes with out template for free-love and rowdy fun-loving nature.”
Next up for the band will be an even bigger tour for the group. It’ll be a three-week trek that will see them go down to the south and the mid-west. Megg is predictably excited, as while her base is in Brooklyn she’s found much to adore about the rest of the country. “Nashville and Asheville have been particularly kind to us. We’re also trying to build a second home for the band in Saint Louis, Missouri.”
More on Sweet Megg & The Wayfarers here.