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Adult Center to feature multi-instrumental musician at New Year’s Eve party

Date: 12/23/2014

LONGMEADOW – The Adult Center will host its New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31 at 11:30 a.m., which will feature Hawaiian steel pedal guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Joel Meginsky playing melodies from American roots music, jazz standards, and country ballads.

Meginsky, a resident of Springfield, said he taught music in the Springfield Public School System for 34 years and has been playing double bass in the Springfield Symphony for 35 years.

Although the double bass isn’t included in his solo performances, he adds a mélange of instruments during his set that include mandolin, violin, clarinet, melodica, and ukulele. 

“I play every traditional and non-traditional instruments with the exception of the accordion,” Meginsky noted.

The list of songs Meginsky plays is extensive and he noted that he is constantly learning new songs to play during his solo performances in a variety other genres such as gospel, pop, and cultural music such as Spanish, Italian, and Irish music, as well as klezmer dances.

“Really, the focus on my presentation with seniors is on bringing live music in a multi-instrumental, multi-genre context featuring instrumental improvisation,” he added.

Meginsky said for live solo performances he uses iPod backing tracks as his rhythm section while he plays and improvises on the melodies of each song.

Meginsky also includes jazz standards such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” as well as “Georgia on My Mind,” and “Honeysuckle Rose” in his repertoire.

“The nice thing about playing for seniors is that you can go way back in terms of repertoire and they’ll know the tunes and the words, which is not true in a restaurant where people are in their 20’s and 30’s, they wouldn’t recognize the tune,” he added.

Meginsky said he also enjoys playing songs by country artists such as Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, and Hank Williams Sr.

“You would be surprised what you can do with a Hank Williams song on the clarinet,” he added. “It’s amazing. The melodies are so good that their open to improvisation and its not just jazz musicians that improvise.”

Pop songs within Meginsky repertoire include songs such as “Only You,” by the 1950s doo-wop group the Platters, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, and “My Girl” by the Temptations.

“I actually learned all the songs on all the instruments,” he noted.

Meginsky also plays pedal steel guitar in a 50’s retro honky-tonk country band called ‘61 Ramblers.

The ’61 Ramblers have played at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton twice. The first time they opened up for a Las Vegas Johnny Cash tribute band called “Cashed Out” and the second time the band opened for Chuck Mead of BR549.

The ‘61 Ramblers will be performing at the Basement in Northampton on Jan. 9, 2015 at 8 p.m. There is no cover charge.

The New Year’s Eve party at the Adult Center will also include mulled cider, non-alcoholic cocktails, and deserts. The event will conclude at around 1:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.