All That Jazz
A 2005 transplant to the Roanoke region, Brian Mesko has managed to build quite the local reputation. A quick listen to any one of his half dozen bands and it’s easy to see why this jazz, blues, funk, soul guitarist is a central figure in the local music scene.
Blue Ridge Rocks wanted to make sure that all its followers knew exactly who Mesko was too, so we did a brief Q & A session with this well-versed musician.
How long have you been playing?
Since I was eight years old, so 28 years. I started with piano, then guitar at age 10, and picked up drums and bass as a teenager. While completing a bachelor’s degree in Recording Industry at Middle TN State, near Nashville, I had the opportunity to play with such international jazz greats as Les McCann, Tony Monaco, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Jorgensen and Jeff Coffin.
My music has been heavily influenced by George Benson, BB King, John Scofield, John McLaughlin, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, and Jimi Hendrix.
What do you like the most about performing?
Performing is a chance to express myself through my instruments. That happens in different ways depending on my mood or the events of the day. My favorite moments are when musicians are connected and listening to each other, contributing to music as a whole and supporting each other so that we all can shine.
What inspires you to continue to play?
I have always been and will always be inspired by jazz, blues, gospel, or any kind of soulful music with improvisation. Lately I’ve been the most inspired by studio work and the creative freedom that comes with being a producer and getting to build a song from the ground up by playing most or all of the instruments.
Do you have advice you can offer for other artists getting started?
Just be yourself. Find your own sound, and express it.
What is your experience watching live music? Do you enjoy it? Is it inspiring? Challenging? Humbling?
When I was growing up seeing live music I always wanted to be on stage. Now that I have been on stage well over 2000 times, I am happy to be an audience member, receiving the band’s energy. Especially from my jazz heroes
Here’s a full list of the bands to which Mesko lends his talents. Oh, and did we also mention that when he isn’t practicing, performing live or spending time with his wife and son, he manages to find time to teach at the Jefferson Center Music Lab. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Mesko live, there are several upcoming shows. We’ll see you out there!