For Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, playing a gig isn’t just about music. It’s about taking a step back in time. Led by pianist, trumpeter and vocalist Drew Nugent, his ensemble recreates the music of a bygone era—playing what has been coined HOT Jazz—which was popularized from 1897 to 1935. “In essence, it’s jazz in its original form,” says Nugent, “the original American pop music.”
But the band does it in its own eclectic way. The tunes, the clothes and even the instruments are all authentic. Musicians don vintage classic suits and tuxedos. The 29-year-old Blue Bell, PA native says he came up with the concept from watching old movies with his dad. “I was blown away by the style of these old jazz icons, like Louis Armstrong, said Nugent. “I’ve always loved dressing up, and wondered, why aren’t we all wearing suits anymore?”
So where does he find the vintage instruments? Nugent combs thrift stores, antique marts and the internet to find these gems, like the goofus, a toy saxophone with push buttons, a novelty instrument from the 1920’s. Or, you might find him playing a hot tea kettle that’s outfitted with a cornet mouthpiece in the spout! His percussionist plays on a drum kit that dates back to 1914.
Nugent (no relation to rocker Ted Nugent) says he loves all music, but this young musician with an old soul says “There’s something about THIS style of music that still “makes me tingle, makes me cry and laugh. It literally puts me under a spell.”
Paris Bistro General Manager Wendy Wolf noted, “We‘re thrilled to have Drew play in our jazz club and expose a younger generation to his unique musical talents. Wolf continued, “Listening to Drew's music is an opportunity to be transported to another time and place... close your eyes and imagine yourself in 1920's Paris.”
Nugent’s mission is to introduce a new generation to a forgotten time in jazz. “No one is doing what we’re doing,” said Nugent. “We want to keep the true spirit of Hot Jazz alive, from our approach at playing and improvising, right down the line to dressing in vintage suits. It’s not a costume or uniform as much as it’s more a way of life.”
Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society will play at Paris Bistro & Jazz Café
, located at 8229 Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia
), on Sunday, August 31st at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. Call 215-242-6200 for details.