from Port City LIFE November 2007 by Mindy Favreau
To counter the undeserved but perhaps prevailing wisdom that says the current group of recent college graduates-sometimes called Generation Y, sometimes called Millennials-is (fill in the blank; self-absorbed, brash, too plugged in to look up from their computers), we decided to zero in on a few 20-somethings in Maine who are already making a contribution in their fields. What’s more, these four demonstrate that you don’t have to leave the state to be successful. And to bolster our argument in favor of these new kids on the block, we had four other 20-somethings write up their profiles.
Matt Fogg, 28, wasn’t always a gifted musician. He joined the band in fifth grade and quickly became, he says, “the worst trumpet player in the whole school.” Still, the Biddeford native persisted, and in high school he auditioned for a spot in a regional music festival. He didn’t get it. But what happened at that audition changed the course of his musical career.
“Walking out, I passed this jazz audition, and it was awesome,” he recalls. I just thought, “What is this sound I’m hearing?” For the first time, I knew what I wanted to do. It was like a lightning bolt.”
Fogg started taking piano lessons, auditioned the following year at the same festival as a jazz pianist, and made the cut. He bought his first tuxedo not for the prom, but for his first major gig at the swanky former Seascapes Restaurant (now Pier 77) on Cape Porpoise.
Now, over ten years later, Fogg has turned his passion into a busy career. Some nights he’s entertaining dinner guests at the Azure Cafe in Freeport. Other nights he’s offering up high-energy renditions of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” with the band Retrospecticus at the Montsweag Roadhouse in Woolwich. He’s already put out three CDs-two with vocalist Nicole Hajj, and one with vocalist Cheri Gaudet Grimmet and guitarist Scott Morgan. A fourth, a collection of hip hop and funk-inspired tunes with the band Jaye Drew and a Moving Train, is due out next spring.
In his various collaborations, he plays everything from blues, jazz, and gospel to 1950s pop, 1980s hair band rock, and hip hop. “Anything that I do, I take it to the nth degree,” he says. “When I get passionate about something, I have to immerse myself in it.”
By day, Fogg, who has a degree in music education, teaches jazz piano or vocals at Bowdoin College, the University of Maine at Augusta, and the Tony Boffa School of Music in Westbrook. For the past three years, he’s directed the chorus at the Lyman Moore Middle-School in Portland, luring “kids who never come to the band and chorus room” with musical programs that include Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with guitar solos. “My teaching philosophy for kids that age is to get as many as possible interested in loving music,” he says. This philosophy has earned him national attention. Earlier this year, he was featured in Keyboard magazine, and in August he received the very first Yamaha Artists in Education endorsement.
Lately Fogg’s been sticking closer to home for his latest project: fatherhood. In September, he and his wife, a nurse, welcomed their first child, a son named Paxton. “I like the high energy lifestyle, but managing my time is tough,” he says. “If I’m not working on anything, I fall into a funk. I just keep wanting to create art. That’s the driving force-the passion to do something different.”
-Mindy Favreau, a 2007 summa cum laude, graduate of Colby College, works as an editorial assistant at Maine Biz.