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Hailing originally from the farm country of Lancaster, PA, Matt Wissler comes from a family steeped in the musical tradition. Wissler’s Grandmother was the organist at the family church for over 30 years and also taught him piano during his formative years. As with all good Christian children he first discovered the joy and power of music at church. Even though his religious affiliations have waned, the influence of church music remains in Wissler’s writing and playing. During high school he expanded his musical discovery by studying classical and jazz guitar with the locally renowned teacher Rob Perlis. The breadth and depth of education he received during his tenure with Rob has proven invaluable in his development as a guitarist and musician.
After receiving a degree in philosophy and traveling extensively across the country, Wissler moved to Brooklyn, NY and has been involved in the roots music scene there for over a decade. As an original member of Alex Battles’ Whiskey Rebellion, Wissler and Battles have performed numerous shows across Brooklyn including the now defunct Lillie’s bar, the original Freddy’s Backroom and Hank’s Saloon. After his amicable departure from The Whiskey Rebellion, he formed and led the seminal Brooklyn country band, The Wissler Family. Initially a small folk outfit featuring Wissler on mandolin, over the years TWF evolved into a full 7-piece country band that maintained an eclectic repertoire of tunes ranging from traditional hymns to covers of Eddie Money and Motley Crue. TWF played extensively on the country circuit around New York City and Boston, including several Brooklyn Country Music Festivals (including the inaugural one), Kings County Opry and several live appearances on local radio station WKCR. TWF began Wissler’s foray into song writing, penning such songs as God’s Country and One More Round that appeared on TWF’s self-titled second album engineered and produced by Kevin Anthony of the Twin City Playboys.
With the departure of lead singer Linda May Wacker to attend graduate school (and subsequent marriage to the band’s former drummer), The Wissler Family decided to disband. Former members went on to join other high profile bands in the NYC scene including the country hip-hop band Gangstergrass and proto-folk outfit, The Flanks. Wissler took this opportunity to further hone his playing chops as a sought after session player sitting in with prominent local bands such as The Ambassadors of Love (mandolin), The Newton Gang (guitar) and Andi Rae Healy’s Back River Bullies (mandolin).
Recently he has turned his concentration from session work to more personal projects. He has since become a permanent member of the Brooklyn country-rock outfit, The Newton Gang, playing lead electric guitar. Additionally, he has been developing and performing music for the surf/punk-rock influenced Zombie Beach: The Musical slated for stage performance in 2013. Finally, in order to further his love of song writing and acoustic playing, Wissler has begun recording a solo EP scheduled for release in early 2013.