He is the bluesman on campus. His name is Brian Degon. During the day he is director of business systems at WPI’s Academic and Corporate Development division. At night, he dons his Ray-Bans and porkpie and transforms himself into a blues brother ready to bend some strings at the drop of his hat.
You may recognize him. In addition to his day gig, he was the guitarist with Liquid Fuel, a kind of WPI house band that ran weekly blues jams sessions on campus. These days, Degon plays in a new band that perform this Wednesday as part of the Campus Center’s lunchtime concert series.
Who: Two Left
When: Wednesday, October 22, noon
Where: Campus Center Food Court Stage
The band is called Two Left, also known as 2L. When asked what’s in a name? Degon rather coyly says, “I think it will remain a secret. There is a story/reason by behind the name, but it’s one of those things, kind of like a Dylan song that’s much better if left up to the imagination. And, it’s really fun for us to hear people suggest what they think it might means.”
Degon says one of his favorite suggestions occurred at a recent show. “A friend and fill-in bass player suggested that when we were looking for a band name they were all taken, and that there were, literally, only two names left. Anyone trying to name their band has probably had the same feeling. That’s not the real story of the name, just the most creative interpretation.”
Given the makeup of the band, it could be called Father and Son. It consists of Degon on vocals and guitar; his dad, Dave Degon, also on guitar; and bassist Fr. Greg Christakos, who is a pastor at the Greek Orthodox Church in Marlboro. The younger Degon says Christakos previously spent time as a priest at St Spyridon in Worcester, “so a lot of WPI-ers know him.”
Getting back to Degon’s day life, he is a WPI alum, class of ‘95 with a BS in ME. He says he’s had a kind of varied professional career, but one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is music. “I started playing trumpet in 5th grade,” he says. “Then my dad started to show me how to play guitar when I was in 7th grade. I played trumpet in the jazz groups here at WPI. Over the last 10 years I’ve been doing lots of playing out, mostly blues on the electric guitar.”
When asked who inspires him on the guitar, Degon answers without hesitating, “I think the one person that inspired me most and really made endeavor to be a great guitar player is Stevie Ray Vaughan. There are countless other influences, but when I hear Stevie play it just flips a switch deep down in my musical core.”
Although Degon’s passion is for the blues, Two Left plays a variety of music. “For the last year or so,” he says, “our group has been playing a huge range of classic rock, folk, alternative, pop, country, and even a little blues all adapted for our instrumentation.”
So in addition to playing tunes by the likes of Stevie Ray, Eric Clapton, and B.B. King, Two left will play such songs as “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen or “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor.
“That gives you an idea of our range,” Degon says. “We try to play something for everyone. I think 2L has emphasized what music is really all about, which is sharing with people, friends, family, connecting with the audience, that sort of stuff. So while most of our playlist doesn’t connect with me personally as deeply as the blues, the connection element makes up for that in spades.”
– By David Sneade