If you live in Kentucky, you need to be paying close attention to the musical community. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. There has likely never been a time where Kentucky has possessed more talent than she does right now. Seriously. Allow me to use Magnolia Boulevard as a shining example for ya.
Kentucky shines with artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Black Stone Cherry and Tyler Childers at the top of their games while our legends continue to thrive. Loretta Lynn, Dwight Yoakam, Ricky Skaggs, The Kentucky Headhunters and many more are still performing to large crowds all over the world. While that’s truly wonderful, I want you to focus more on the artists still trying to get to their levels. Remember, every single musician on this planet was once a local musician.
Having said that, there are many artists that are truly worth your time and could very likely end up being household names in the very near future. That’s why you need to pay attention. Creativity and genius are all great, but it’s the fans that support these artists that make or break them.
This past Friday night, three bands shared the small stage at the Burl in Lexington. Magnolia Boulevard, Joslyn & The Sweet Compression and the Zach Longoria Project or ZLP for short were there to celebrate the release of Magnolia Boulevard’s debut EP. In roughly one year, Magnolia Boulevard has become one of the must-see bands around. Their sound, much like the incredible talent within our state, is a diverse collection that not only catches your attention but holds it hostage.
Opening the night was the Louisville based outfit, ZLP. I was eager to see them after researching them on the ole internets machine. Their vibe is funky, fresh and polished. The band also likely holds the record for most musicians onstage at once at the Burl. The fact that the stage was filled with a small army of eight musicians told me that we were in for a treat and ZLP did not disappoint. The incredible depth and musical layers that ZLP brought were an absolutely perfect compliment to kickoff the night.
Next up was a band that I truly love on a personal level, Joslyn & The Sweet Compression. Joslyn has the biggest and baddest voice in the Commonwealth. Her range, control, and projection are second to none. The funkiness and grooves provided by the Sweet Compression allow Joslyn to do what she does best, entertain. Her confidence, playfulness and stage presence is contagious. As she dances around flashing that beautiful smile, people are drawn in and they too dance away their cares. That’s exactly why we chose Joslyn & the Sweet Compression to join us at our first annual Cinder and Smoke Fest. To say that we’re excited and honored to have them on the bill would be the understatement of the year. For more information about Cinder and Smoke, head on over to the official site here.
Joslyn & The Sweet Compression can seemingly do no wrong musically. At least in my eyes and ears. From the wonderful originals like “Love On The Double”, “Sunday Driver” and their current single, “Honey, Be” to the mind-blowing cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter”, Joslyn & The Sweet Compression deliver like no one else. I often times describe Joslyn as the “Queen of Kentucky”, if you see her perform, you’ll understand exactly why.
After dancing our keisters off to ZLP and Joslyn, it was time for Magnolia Boulevard to take the stage. Following two high-quality acts could be detrimental to many bands confidence, but Magnolia Boulevard isn’t your typical band. They too have a unique sound and are a collection of some of the finest musicians around.
I’d venture to say that on this night, Magnolia Boulevard’s musical diversity was the highlight for many folks. From booty-shaking songs like “Ride” to heartfelt songs like “Sister”, to the beautiful “Call On Me”, to the thunderous “River”, and the absolutely epic “Call On Me”, Magnolia Boulevard truly brought something for everyone.
Vocalist Maggie Noelle has a raspy, captivating clarity in her voice that is totally unique. It’s a voice that is immediately identifiable and her ability to unleash it with great power draws you in like the song of a siren. She has often drawn comparisons to many great female artists like Melissa Etheridge and even Janis Joplin, but from my perspective, her tone is closer to Bonnie Raitt. Once you add in the guitar work of Gregg Erwin, you’ll even hear a hint of the Tedeschi Trucks band.
Like Joslyn before her, Maggie also enjoys dancing onstage. Her gypsy vibe is on full display as the band often times takes off into an extended jam session. The love and light in her eyes are like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. You just can’t resist joining her as a dance partner when she is enjoying the talent around her just as much as the crowd does.
Guitarist Gregg Erwin has quickly become my favorite player around. His voice is just as big as Maggie’s, but his is channeled through a Paul Reed Smith guitar and a VVT amp. Gregg’s playing is tasteful, but his slide work is where he bares his soul. Molded by greats like Duane Allman, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, Gregg has a familiar style, but make no mistake his tone and soul are both incredible. So much so that guitar maker Mr. Paul Reed Smith himself fell in love with the band at the recent 50th anniversary of Lexington’s Wilcutt Guitars. Mr. PRS was so impressed that he reached out to the band and invited the band to perform at their upcoming Experience PRS. Which is an annual gathering at the PRS factory in Maryland where artists perform and guitar clinics are held that showcase the guitars and innovation that the company is known for. PRS is flying the band up to Maryland and covering all their expenses. It’s an incredible opportunity for the band to perform for many music industry folks and it’s also an obvious testament to the talent the band possesses.
Friday night though, the Burl was packed and had to be at or at least very near capacity. A strong showing of love and support for a band that’s barely a year old don’t ya think? If you want my humble opinion, you’d best be making it to a Magnolia Boulevard show soon, because this band is going to outgrow these smaller venues very soon.
As I always say, support the artists or lose the art. Let’s do our part as a community and lift up these great artists for all the world to see. And as our buddy, Jeff Cox would say, “Always go to the show”.