Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Local Jam Spotlight: Peach Belly

I wouldn’t say that Bangor and Orono are well-known for their lively music scene. Although, like anything in Maine, when you push yourself to a place of motivation and get out to some of the local venues, you can find a flourishing span of shows. Some notable local bands creating the vibes right now have been Midnight Breakfast, Milk St., Sizzle, Skyline Drive and some funky characters behind the stage name “Peach Belly.” I sat down with them recently.

Peach Belly was formed in May of 2022 out of the yearning for drummer Yoni Musher’s skills to improve. Fueled by a summer hiatus of prior members of sister band Sizzle, Peach Belly’s saxophone player Jaylee Rice stayed in town, and member Jack Pasternak’s homemade bass guitar antics needed a space for play. Their collective talents now shape the dynamics required for their lengthy improvisational jams, and Peach Belly finds themselves booked months in advance. 

Guitarist and good friend of the three, Trip Nickel, says he’s “been playing since 2013 but got really focused during the Covid lockdowns.” When asked if being a member of Peach Belly made him a better musician, Nickel responded enthusiastically, “It has absolutely made me a better musician. It’s good to learn popular songs that a lot of people know and try to play them well”. He feels it’s a unique skill that not only benefits the musician by allowing them to create their own atmosphere, but the crowd is more engaged when they know the energy of a song.

Keys player Trey Wright states, “It’s brought me great joy learning some awesome covers that we’ve each had input on, bringing our own style to each one and allowing them to evolve and grow.”

A question that kept coming to me as I sat with Musher and Pasternak was a curious one that music lovers never get to ask our favorite bands: why do you think people always want more music? “Bunch of hippies, man!” Pasternak answered across from me, followed by Musher’s exclamation of, “People like to dance!” 

It’s as simple as that. Music is created by joyful people such as this lively group isn’t an experience to pass by a single time. Students at the University of Maine and Husson University seem to always leave smiling ear to ear while carrying a new sense of enlightened fulfillment that checks their weekend off as a great success. If it were up to me, I’d say these guys have uplifted more 20something-year-olds than they could give themselves credit for – whether they are playing as Sizzle, or as Peach Belly. 

Music comes down to the way sound makes us feel. When asked, what kind of joy has playing music brought you? Pasternak says, “This is my therapy; I’m playing music with people who mentally and physically meld well with me – we create something impossible for one person.” So as the crew embraces their instruments, they simultaneously embrace a spiritual essence amongst themselves every time they get together. Obviously, a band full of college students leads to some setbacks. Some members are studying or graduating soon. “There is a lot of fluctuation; we just take it as it comes,” Nickel said, which is a statement that follows the same nature as the music he conjures on a daily basis. 

If what is said above isn’t enough to convince you to get out and watch the musical alchemy that is Peach Belly, here’s Nickel’s advice: “What I would say to the people of Orono is that everyone should support live music these days. It’s vital to maintaining creativity and pushing local talent. In today’s time where we are likely to isolate and stay hidden in our circles, it is good to get out to a live show and meet people and dance with strangers. It reminds you of the fun you can have if you get just a little past your comfort zone!”

Get the Maine Campus' weekly highlights right to your inbox!
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Secure and Spam free...