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Blowing smoke: Swing band plays 1930s ‘marijuana jazz’

How sweet it is: Megg Farrell, of Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers, says that her vocal style is influence by Billie Holiday, and that she nevers sings a tune the same way twice.
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Swing your blues away!

A Brooklyn jazz band aims to shake your booty and to shake up the staid image of their genre. Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers will host a wild party on Sept. 14 to launch its second, self-titled album, complete with aerialists, ballet performers, and songs about smoking pot — and the band’s lead singer says that you ain’t seen nothing like it.

“Our shows are rowdy, loud, people get up on their feet,” said Megg Farrell. “We are not trying to recreate the old form. Our concert is definitely not a jazz evening.”

The record release party will start with a swing dance class to get the audience moving, taught by the front-woman of Cait and the Critters, the evening’s support band. The lesson will be followed by an aerial and acrobatic performance from regulars at the House of Yes, as well as an improvised ballet showdown to tunes performed by Wayfarers, courtesy of dance company Konverjdans.

Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers are an extremely flexible band, and the new album reflects their many influences, said Farrell.

“We go from old time New Orleans to gypsy jazz, blues — the album shows all our sides” explains Megg. “We are also doing some ‘marijuana jazz’ — it’s a genre from the ’30s where people sang about smoking weed. It’s hilarious!”

But there is one artist whose influence stands above the others, said Farrell — Billie Holiday.

“I am a big Billie Holiday fan, especially for her theories and what she believed in. Like her, I always sing how I feel and I never sing a song the same twice,” said Farrell.

The singer, who lives in Williamsburg and often plays at St. Maize’s, said that she is happy to launch the album in her home borough.

“I have always felt we don’t do the fancy, suited-up version of jazz. We are young and like to party and we have always been goofballs,” she said. “Brooklyn is more suited to that. We are the rock and roll of jazz music!”

Sweet Megg and the Wayfarers at the Paper Box [17 Meadow St. between Bogart and Waterbury streets in Bushwick, (718) 383–3815, www.paperboxnyc.com]. Sept. 14 at 8 pm. $15 ($12 in advance).

Posted 12:00 am, September 8, 2017
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