Wysteria, called by one name or another, has existed in essence for a number of years. The band was started by saxophonist Darren Day and lead singer/keyboardist/acoustic guitarist Brad Kersey while in high school in Thomaston, Georgia. Like most horn players, Day was a jazz player by training, but he greatly enjoyed applying his jazz fundamentals to rock and funk music. Kersey was for a long time interested strictly in country music, appreciating the clever wordplay and tight instrumental arrangements. Guitarist Chance Royal joined the band early on. While only 16 at the time and lacking formal musical training, Royal made up for it with an astounding intuitive feel for soulful, blues-based guitar playing. The group played on and off for a number of years with various incarnations and personnel.
The group finally stumbled upon its sound during the summer of 1999, when drummer Steve Fletcher and bassist Buddy Pattillo joined the group. Both older, seasoned veterans of the music scene south of Atlanta, they added a wealth of experience and professionalism to complement the youthful drive and energy of the younger band members. Pattillo had a great deal of experience playing with blues bands in Atlanta, but yearned to take the blues foundation and expand into other styles of music. Fletcher had been playing in rock-and-roll bands for twenty-five years and recalls performing most of the band’s current repertoire when it was Top 40 material. The band played steadily for several years, building a reputation in the Middle Georgia area as the “party jam band”.
After several successful years, Wysteria faced several challenges. Royal left the band in early 2002, his slot being filled by Griffin guitarist Mark Goodman. Goodman and Fletcher both left the band after a serious auto accident in 2003. Rather than looking outside, the band looked inside to replace them. Royal rejoined the band, literally, without missing a lick. Our good friend Chris Smith, of the renowned Smith Brothers, agreed to fill in for Fletcher for as long as was necessary. The last piece was finally put into place when former band member Jared Stubbs rejoined the group to play drums. Stubbs had played, at various times, guitar, bass and drums with the group. Now that he had finished college, it was time for a long-awaited homecoming. The band is still playing actively.
Wysteria refuses to focus on a single musical genre, holding to the belief that there are only two types of music: good and bad. The band’s repertoire encompasses pop, rock, funk, soul, jazz, blues, and any sort of combination in between. These styles are incorporated into a rural, southern context to provide an interesting mix that is equally appropriate for formal wedding receptions or smoke-filled bars. More important than any one style is the overall sound of the band, which remains remarkably consistent over a wide variety of material. The sound could be described as mellow, rockin’, funky, jazzy, soulful rhythm and blues. The rhythm section lays down a strong, driving, groove-oriented foundation, which is built on by orchestrated guitar and saxophone and distinctive, if not outstanding vocals.
While the band does mostly cover songs, they are beginning to incorporate original material into the set. Their approach to original material is the same as to the cover songs in that any style of song is acceptable as long as it can be easily adapted to the band’s sound. These songs have enjoyed a warm response thus far, and the members of Wysteria sincerely desire to use their music not only as a pastime, but also as a creative endeavor.