LEWISBURG — Kicking off the 2019-20 season at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts will be Lewisburg Area High School and Charleston School of Music (S.C.) graduate Ryan Flannery, who promises an evening of jazz mixed with funk and uptempo hard bop.
The Ryan Flannery Trio will perform a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, in the Weis Center Atrium. Joining Flannery will be Brandon Brooks on drums, and McCarthy Fitch on bass.
Flannery, who mans the guitar, said his music features jazz elements fans will easily recognize, as well as more modern influences.
“I would say there’s definitely a nod to bee-bop,” he said. “There’s classic swing elements at times and some of the sort of straight, funky thing — like Herbie Hancock.”
Listening to Flannery’s music online (http://ryanflannerymusic.com), it’s easy to hear the roots of jazz amid the warm tones in his guitar playing.
“I’m not a prisoner of the moment,” Flannery said of jazz history. “Musicians pick and choose what they like. If this was still the most popular form of music, you’d feel like playing it. (Hancock) is where things straightened out a bit. It wasn’t as toe tapping or swinging as it was in the ‘50s.”
His foray into music began at an early age, and rock was an early influence.
“I played saxophone in third grade, but I wasn’t ready for it then,” he remembered. “I bought a guitar when I was 12. I got all my Christmas money together and also got an amp. We started a band, and played Led Zeppelin, Van Halen covers.”
By the time he reached high school, the influence of local musicians like the late Steve Mitchell was hard to ignore.
“We would go see him every Wednesday night at Purseils (Irish Pub, Lewisburg) with Andy Seal and Greg Burgess,” said Flannery. “As time went by we’d hang out with those guys. Gradually, we’d go over to his place and play and listen to music. We’d load up his drums, take him to gigs.”
While at Charleston, Flannery majored in music performance with a concentration in jazz studies.
Since graduating from the College of Charleston, Flannery has enjoyed a steady stream of gigs.
“Fortunately I’ve had between two and four standing gigs every week,” he said. “In Charleston, the way you get a lot of this work, you get a call and get subbed in. You do enough of those and people see you are reliable.”
Now bookings include the regular weekly events, as well as corporate events, weddings and the occasional solo guitar work.
Returning to Lewisburg to play the Weis Center is something Flannery is looking forward to.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “I used to be a stagehand at the Weis Center. My first couple of summers back (from school) I did lighting on the catwork and roadied for bands that came through.
“It will be great to be back, to see people I haven’t seen for awhile. There will be family coming in the for the show. It’s also a chance to play some of the music we’ve been working on.”
Flannery, now based in Charleston, S.C., graduated from Lewisburg in 2012 and College of Charleston in 2016.
Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.