Chelsea Reed & The Fair Weather Five

Oct. 26, 2018

Chelsea Reed & the Fairweather Five is one of the most magnetic jazz bands you can find in Philadelphia. Chris Oatts’ saxophone, Jake Kelberman’s guitar, Joe Plowman’s bass, Austin Wagner’s drum, and Silas Irvine’s keyboard synthesize to create a sound so gleeful that audiences can’t stay in their seats once the Fair Weather Five begin to play.

chelsea reed and the fairweather five

Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five is one of the most magnetic jazz bands you can find in Philadelphia. Chris Oatts’ saxophone, Jake Kelberman’s guitar, Joe Plowman’s bass, Austin Wagner’s drum, and Silas Irvine’s keyboard synthesize to create a sound so gleeful that audiences can’t stay in their seats once the Fair Weather Five begin to play. The men wear spiffy ties with patterned jackets or blazers that give the band a cohesive 1940s look. At the center of the bandstand prances Chelsea Reed, swinging and spinning in a classic A-line dress while her alluring voice remains euphoric through her dance moves. Her energy is arresting as she shimmies around the stage, reveling in the jazz rhythm emanating from the Five. Chelsea beams at the crowd, clapping and dancing, completely in her element.

Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five make each audience member feel as if they are playing only for them. Chelsea’s voice is light yet rich, warm and inviting, making the audience feel at home. Chelsea often turns to watch the band behind her; they are having as much fun as she is. The instruments and Chelsea’s voice are not just part of the song; they are in animated conversation with one another. The dynamic of their back and forth is riveting, and Chelsea and the Five love every minute. As a unit, Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five are a band plucked right out of the 1940s jazz scene. This is a band that not only loves what they do, but have an understanding of jazz that transcends any amount of rehearsal.

Chelsea says, “I am trying to create a space where people are absolutely having fun and engaged in the music. Because of my own background in history and how I approach the music, I want them to have a deeper knowledge of what jazz music means to American culture and all of the things jazz can be.” Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five met when they were students at Temple University, but Chelsea Reed’s love of jazz launched when she was very young. Chelsea was introduced to jazz through her grandparents, who were avid listeners of the great American crooners like Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Chelsea enjoyed jazz music as a child, but became enraptured when she discovered Ella Fitzgerald in the fourth grade.

Chelsea says, “I decided to do a biography project, and there was a short chapter book about Ella Fitzgerald. I read everything about her and became quickly obsessed with learning more.” Chelsea continues, “The beginning of her life really inspired me. Then I just started begging my classical voice teacher to sing jazz songs and here we are.” The interaction with Ella Fitzgerald sparked not only a deeper investment into jazz, but into the history of the music itself. Chelsea landed at Temple University and has since achieved her Master’s degree in history.

Since that early book report, Chelsea Reed has used her love of jazz history to cultivate her spirited presence on stage. Chelsea says, “My attraction to early jazz definitely intertwines with my love for American history. The two for me are inseparable.” Chelsea continues, “What draws me in is that there’s this playfulness in early jazz and the musicians who performed it. There’s this infectious joy, even with songs about suffering or heartache that don’t sound joyful. There’s still an energy that to me has always been captivating.”

chelsea reed singing

Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five call Philadelphia their musical home and credit the city as part of their identity as a band. Chelsea says, “There’s a real untapped resource of musical history, and that’s how you get better as a musician, you need to know the experiences and the lives of the people who came before you so that you can really have an appreciation for Jazz music, and it has definitely flourished in Philadelphia.” Chelsea continues, “Without Philadelphia and the community of musicians here, my bandmates and I plain would not be as good.” Chelsea and the Five’s love of jazz has translated into three albums since their inception, the self-titled album Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five released in 2014 and Live at Vesper, released in 2015.

Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five have attracted more than swing dancers and festival goers with their electric performances. The band has collaborated with the likes of pianist Gordon Webster and recorded with acclaimed trombonist Wycliffe Gordon on their latest album, Spreadin’ Rhythm Around, released in 2017. Prior to the release of Spreadin’ Rhythm Around, Chelsea and the Five performed with Gordon as part of a masterclass Gordon taught at Temple University.

After successfully leading a Kickstarter campaign for their new music project, Chelsea felt emboldened and asked Gordon to play trombone on their upcoming album. Chelsea says, “I thought it was a long shot but I really wanted him to play on one of our records and lend his immense talent to our sound”. Chelsea and The Five work tirelessly to create the authentic jazz experience for their audience and command the crowd with the influence of great musicians like Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to inspire them.

Each performance is unique, featuring a set list crafted just for that event. Chelsea says, ”That’s what I strive to emulate: the improvisers who have really moved me. When you’re creating a composition right there just for the people in that room, that’s what I love about jazz so much.”

Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five have been with Mole Street Artists since 2012, and can be found releasing swing dancers’ energy after blues workshops, serenading dinner parties or adorning memorable wedding receptions with their music.  

If you would like to book Chelsea Reed & the Fair Weather Five for your next event or to discuss additional entertainment and live music bookings in Philadelphia, contact our Talent Buyer, Sean Timmons at 215-240-8552.

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