The busk stops here: Wenger and Bragg performing at Taste of Lititz this Friday

By on June 3, 2015

One day, he walked down Main Street and started busking. With a guitar, harmonica and a voice strangely similar to Bob Dylan, Warwick High School senior Matt Wenger brings authentic folk street performing to downtown Lititz.

Typically found in front of the bank by the town square on 2nd Fridays with his best friend and fellow Warwick senior Jeff Bragg, the duo performs their brand of Americana with a tip jar at their feet.

From Main Street to the stages of Lancaster’s finest venues such as Tellus360, Wenger and Bragg are a must-see act. In addition to 2nd Fridays, their recent performances include this past Sunday’s Rumble in the Park, and they will be playing this Friday at Taste of Lititz from 5 to 9 p.m.

While Wenger’s voice replicates Dylan’s style, it’s not the only reason he performs the influential songwriter’s compositions.

Wenger remembers the first time he heard Peter, Paul and Mary cover “Don’t think Twice.” Then, he heard Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

“There’s something about his songs and him that appealed to me more than anyone else,” said Wenger. “I don’t know how to say it, it’s just like I was meant to find him. It’s changed my life 100 percent.”

For Bragg, it was listening to the 1964 Newport Folk Festival version of “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

“I was listening to it, and like, it was such a beautiful song,” he recalled. “The way he played it there, it almost made me weep because it was just so good.”

Wenger added, “For me, it’s poetry. It’s not just the music and the guitar, it’s actually the words.”

And luckily for Lititz and them, they found each other and are able to perform together. They have both seen Bob Dylan live twice, once together in Philadelphia.

WHS seniors Jeff Bragg (left) and Matt Wenger (right) will be part of the local entertainment lineup at Friday’s Taste of Lititz. (Photo by Stan Hall)

WHS seniors Jeff Bragg (left) and Matt Wenger (right) will be part of the local entertainment lineup at Friday’s Taste of Lititz. (Photo by Stan Hall)

But Dylan isn’t the only thing that they play. They also both share a passion for Wood Guthrie, a singer/songwriter who was a huge influence on that music style. In general, they perform a similar genre to these artists, and are starting to add original songs into the mix.

Wenger has been playing the guitar since he was four or five. He also knows the banjo and the harmonica, but learning Dylan songs pushed him to focus more on harmonica.

Bragg used to play the drums, but since it is hard for a drummer to get a solo gig, he learned the guitar. He’s been playing for four years, and both of them have gigs together and separately. Much like Wenger, Bragg’s music career started by busking. One day he was wandering the streets of Lancaster, performing, when he saw a band going into The Seed. He followed them in and they let him open for that night’s show.

Wenger and Bragg have plans to go away to college after graduating. When they’re not playing music or in school, Bragg works at Moravian Manner and Wenger raises animals at his home in Brunnerville. He also sells his own honey to a local restaurant.

Despite being under 21, the high school students have no shortage of gigs, even at bars. Their schedule varies from two to three shows a month, to three or four a week, and they play at venues all over the county such as Tellus360, Annie Bailey and the Black Gryphon. They have also performed for different events at the high school and at Lititz’s Farmers Market.

But for them, music isn’t about the money or the recognition. It’s about paying homage to talented musicians, respecting the art of lyrical poetry and meeting like-minded people.

“Some of the people we’ve met have been worth more than any money,” said Wenger.

Upcoming Gigs:

June 5 – Taste of Lititz

June 6 – Moon Dancer Winery

June 7 – Musser Park’s East Side Farmers Market

Lenay Ruhl is a freelance feature writer. She welcomes reader feedback at lenay.ruhl@gmail.com.

About mhunnefield

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *