Band: Megan and The Wheelmen
Members: Megan Woodland Donley, vocals and guitar; Andrew Evans Naylor, bass and piano; Clem Foust, pedal steel; Todd Reid, percussion
Who we talked to: Donley, 25
How did you guys meet/how long have you been performing together? In our band, it's myself . . . and then there's Andrew the bassist, and he and I have been dating for about . . . two years. When we first started dating, you know, we played music together and an old friend of his is . . . our pedal steel guitar player. Clem's actually 69 years old. (He and Andrew) played in a band together and, they kind of always had this dream of starting a band with a female singer. In about January 2008, the three of us started getting together and just kind of playing my old songs. Then, I guess our drummer Todd was playing with some other band locally . . . and we kind of asked him to join up with us.
How did you come up with the name? When I was in college, I played with a bunch of different bands. It was always kind of a struggle to find a name. Megan and The Wheelmen actually used some of those names for a while. One of them was . . . a Sanskrit word, which I'm not even pronouncing correctly. We wanted this cool artsy name (but) no one could remember it. Andrew always liked the concept of the wheel like the . . . wheels in music, like the circle of fifths and the circle of fourths. The other band members are kind of like, you know, the wheels of the gears turning. (The Wheelmen) also has a dual meaning because it's also like they're the getaway. A wheelman (was) also the guy (who) walked by the carriage back in the day.
How did you get into music? I grew up in York and then I went away to (Dickinson College) in Carlisle. We all pretty much live in York now. I always enjoyed singing ever since I was really, really little. I remember singing . . . in chorus and (taking) singing lessons. I think when I was about 14 my parents got me a guitar because a bunch of my friends played. I never took lessons. I just kind of messed around with the chords. The same guitar I got when I was 14 . . . is the same guitar I use to this day.
Who are your influences? I'm sure all of us have all different (influences). For me . . . Billie Holiday is a big one. Lately, it's been this one girl named Regina Spektor. I really like her voice.
Where do you play in the area? Our first show ever was at The Glad Crab. We kind of opened for a friend of ours. Then, we played the Fairie Festival. It's going to be our third year if we play there (in 2010). Throughout the year, we have a regular gig at Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville. We really like that environment. (We play) at bars (including) the First (Capitol Dispensing Co.) and Victor's (Italian Restaurant).
Like any other local bands? Andrew plays with A.D. (Chandler) and so does Todd. Andrew's also played with Dana Alexandra. Of course, we love Waitin' on a Train. Our friends Pete (Richards) and Lindsey (Keeney) play with Free Breakfast. Kris Kostoff . . . plays jazz and guitar. Pretty much any original music we're kind of just cool with. We support that they're doing that.
What are your thoughts on the local music scene? I think it's growing. I remember when I was, like, 16, seeing bands play. Since I've moved back here . . . it's just been cool to be involved. There (are) musicians coming out of the woodwork . . . and coming together to play music. There are these Web sites. Scrapplehead.com is one (site) . . . where musicians are just connecting.
Do you guys have any plans to put out an album? We have, like, a demo recording that we have on our MySpace page. We're recording . . . our first actual album. We're not sure if it's going to be, like, a five-song EP or full album yet. We're hoping to have that out maybe in the spring.
What is your musical guilty pleasure? I do most of the songwriting. Andrew helps me a lot with just ideas and a lot with chords and harmonies. I can put hours into trying to write a song and nothing will happen. Then, sometimes randomly, I will be driving in the car and a melody will pop into my head. A lot of times, I start with . . . an emotion and a melody comes from that. We have a really kind of folky jazz sound and we experiment with some . . . gypsy music and we even have a reggae song. We just like to explore.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
See Megan and The Wheelmen perform at 9 p.m. Jan. 16 at Bistro 19, 19 N. George St. in York.
On the Web
For details about the band, visit www.myspace.com/meganandthewheelmen.
To listen to the interview, visit www.flipsidepa.com.
To read more meet-the-artist interviews, visit www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.