While in college in North Carolina, Leila Percy sang with the trio "The Swannanoa Sweetpeas" doing classic folk and rock music. 1983 Leila met Birdie Newman Katz performing at the Carousel Dinner Theater in Boothbay Harbor, and they have been singing partners ever since, e.g. the musical comedy cooking show for the Adelphia Network called "At Home With the Singing Chef." Originally this concert was "Birdie and Leila" but Birdie became ill.
In 1987, Leila became featured singer for the Brunswick based band "Randy Bean & Friends." Upon Randy's passing in 1996, Leila added "band leader" to her resume spreading the gospel of the American Songbook all over New England. The highlight? Live recordings for Rich Tozier's "Friday Night Jazz" on Maine Public Radio. Her mentors include pianist, Muriel Havenstein; trombonist, Don Doane; bassist, Al Doane, and drummer, Les Harris, Sr. In 2002 Leila was the first jazz singer elected to the Maine House of Representatives.
Gerry Wright (piano), a career music educator, 27 years at MSAD#47 (RSU#18) was semi-retired in 1998. For the next 5 years he coached gifted and talented area chorus students. He played for Waterville House productions as well as CONY High School's Chizzle Wizzle. In June (6/18) he retired from Maine Central Institute, 13 year tenure, where he was director of concert choir, chamber singers and piano instructor!
Bassist Jim Lyden, a native of Portland, began playing electric bass in gigs with rock bands in the early 70's. At the same time he began studying upright bass. In 1982 he began playing bass with the Augusta based Joy Spring Jazz Quintet and Jewett Hall quickly became a familiar place. Other groups he played with at Jewett: Scott Oakley Trio, Mark Kleinhaut Trio, MK Trio/Tiger Okoshi and Bobby Watson, and the Portland Jazz Orchestra. He also played with a trio with Roy Frazee and Steve Grover, the Maine Bones featuring Don Doane. the Pinetones. and for 15 years every Tuesday evening at the Press Room in Portsmouth NH, Larry Garland's River City Jazz.
Tony Shay (drums) was born and raised in New York City. He started playing drums when in high school in Brooklyn, N.Y. After military service in a U. S. Air Force band, Tony played in musical groups in the greater NYC area, including off Broadway productions of Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Can-Can, and How To Succeed. Moving to Maine in 1987, Tony was the regular drummer for the Al Corey Band for over 12 years. He currently teaches privately, and plays mostly with the Kennebec Valley Performing Arts Company and Gerry Wright.
Sherry Walrath has signed concerts with Leila from Farmington to the Rockport Opera House. She taught American Sign Language at several universities and has worked as an ASL interpreter for the deaf for more than 40 years. She has a long love for traditional jazz, "My mother played piano with a dance band that played songs from the 1920s to the 1940s. I learned the lyrics to all the popular songs from those years. Signing them is an absolute joy!"Click images to enlarge.