Drew Nugent On Playing Through The Pandemic

Photo Credit: Brian Mengini

The pandemic that has hit globally has completely change the way we live in the modern world. Bars, restaurants, venues, and other establishments have closed in order to help slow the virus. The closure of these places has put a giant halt on the live music scene where thousands of musicians have been forced to stop playing for people in person. Many have taken to playing live online to help supplement income and keep the music alive. A jazz musician named Drew Nugent is one of these individuals who recently started playing from home.

Drew Nugent is a jazz musician, hailing from the city of Philadelphia, and bandleader of the group “Drew Nugent & the Midnight Society”. His main instruments of choice are the piano, trumpet and vocals. Nugent is also known for his playing of an odd contraption called the “Hot Tea-Kettle”. He, along his band specialize in playing traditional or “Hot” Jazz from the 1920s and 1930s. Every sub-genre of this style of music is represented, such as the styles of New Orleans, Chicago, Harlem, Kansas City, even their native Philadelphia. 

In the business for well over a decade now, Drew has been influenced by a plethora of long lost Jazz and popular music icons from the likes of the well known Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Bing Crosby, Bix Beiderbecke, among many others. Rather than replicate or recreate what has already been done, he leads the performance in a timeless manner that makes one feel transported to another era, hearing an authentic portrayal of the style without the purists’ take on it.

It’s about incorporating what you have learned from each recording you’ve obsessed over or just merely listened to for years and picked up nuances and colors from it, then making your own interpretation on the piece. Essentially it’s just jazz!

Drew Nugent
Drew Nugent
Photo Credit: Amy McDermott

The Unusual Musical Solution

By March 15th 2020, so many of my gigs just started disappearing . Had a pretty d*** good spring mapped out. Then boom. This craziness happens.

Drew Nugent

Like other musicians the worldwide pandemic has affected Drew Nugent also. All of his live performances have been canceled for the foreseeable future until everything is under control. Going from playing such venues such as the Kimmel Center, the Hearst Castle, and the World Cafe Live, to canceling all upcoming engagements completely, has been tough. With no end in sight, Drew had to figure out other ways to still keep playing to an audience. Mr. Nugent thought of doing a Facebook live set up to still play and give people the opportunity to still listen to live music. He set up his camera in front of his piano in his home, clicked on “go live”, and commenced to playing piano, singing and a bit of cornet and teapot (while playing piano at the same time). Now he is getting between 600-1000+ views per stream. People started asking how they could tip him and he started putting his Venmo and PayPal information on the screen for people to throw some money in the online tip buckets.

I’ve been playing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9-10. The donations/tips have been coming in with every show at a decent rate. It’s not replacing what I lost by a long shot, but it’s still a big help in hard times.

Drew Nugent
Drew Nugent
Marina Borushek

Drew Nugent is not alone with finding new ways to still perform. Many artist have taking to online performances and may soon be one of the biggest ways for people to experience music. The benefit of musicians streaming music is that people can watch no matter where they are with any device they have. There have even been whole online festivals where multiple musicians stream from their home, one after another. Drew Nugent is at the forefront of digital Jazz music performances and its not shocking to see him doing as well as he is. We hope that many musicians take after Drew and find other ways to keep their musical flare alive. Times are tough and the future looks dim but Drew Nugent has showed us that in the arts where there is a will there is a way.

Be sure to add Drew on Facebook and listen to his live streams @ facebook.com/drewnugentmidnightsociety , or Instagram @midnightsocietyjazz . The Midnight Society is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nugentsband. His website is www.drewgent.com. You can also find him at musicians.allaboutjazz.com/drewnugent

He has 4 albums for purchase currently : Alice Blue Gown (2012), Hot Sweet & Sassy (2016), I’ll Never Be the Same (2017), Second Hand Man (2019) . Drew Nugent (and the Midnight Society) can also be found on Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud and other streaming services.

Reach out to Drew, and his band directly at midnightsocietyjazz@gmail.com . 

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