Roughly one year ago, Lexington’s Magnolia Boulevard was formed. The band has quickly grown a passionate fan base and for good reason.
If this is your first time hearing about the band, please allow me to fill you in. Magnolia Boulevard consists of Ryan Allen (Keys), Todd Copeland (Drums), Gregg Erwin (Guitar), Maggie Noelle (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar) and John Roberts (Bass). The band has drawn comparisons to the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bonnie Raitt and even the Allman Brothers. It’s rare for a band to be together for such a little amount of time and yet they know exactly who they are.
Recently they released their first single titled, “Ride“. That’s an incredibly fitting title for the last few weeks, because Magnolia Boulevard have been riding a magnificent wave of momentum since playing a set at the 50th Anniversay Celebration of Lexington’s premier guitar shop, Willcutt Guitars.
In attendance at Willcutt Guitars, were several guitarists and guitar makers. None more important to this article than guitarist Brent Mason and guitar maker Paul Reed Smith.
Magnolia Boulevard’s Gregg Erwin happens to be influenced heavily by Brent Mason and Gregg also happens to play a Paul Reed Smith guitar. Now you may see that as a coincidence, but I’ve always been told that a coincidence is God’s way of winking at you. Was this meeting fate? I’d certainly like to think so, but only time will tell I suppose.
Magnolia Boulevard has their own style, but at their core, they just play good ole rock ‘n’ music. Unlike most cookie cutter bands that get pumped through corporate radio, Magnolia Boulevard has soul. And that soul is what caught the attention of both Brent Mason and Mr. Paul Reed Smith.
Brent Mason sat in with the band for a rousing rendition of the Junior Wells/Buddy Guy classic, “Little By Little”. They left the stage feeling great as Brent and Paul then took the stage for a demonstration on PRS Guitars.
That would have been a great day for anyone, but it didn’t end there. Paul Reed Smith was impressed enough that he invited the band to Maryland to play at his annual guitar expo at the PRS factory. That show is called Experience PRS. The band were flown into Baltimore and performed for all the attendees.
While that is obviously a huge honor and we could talk at length about the show, I want to focus on something different. I want to allow you to pull back the curtain a bit and see who these folks are and why you should be paying attention.
Through this entire experience, which was sandwiched around their EP Release show, the humility, graciousness, respect, love, and admiration this band reciprocated with their fans, was nothing short of amazing.
Btw, you can read more about their EP Release show here, if you’d like.
I read post after post from fans recounting their experiences. Some comments even spilled over onto articles and photos that we had posted here on the site and our social media.
I saw the band members personal posts shyly accepting thanks and humbly enjoying their interactions with those that support them. I saw family members gushing with pride and everything you read, ultimately made you smile. These young folks are ridiculously talented, but the thing that will take them further than that talent is their humility and genuine love for each other and the art they create.
I firmly believe that Mr. Paul Reed Smith saw and felt those same qualities on that Saturday afternoon at Wilcutt Guitars.
Some of the greatest guitarists on the planet endorse or are sponsored by PRS Guitars. This man knows music, but he also knows what it takes to make it in this tough business.
For another example of an artist that I feel shares the same traits as Magnolia Boulevard, who happens to also be a PRS Artist with his own Signature Guitar, look no further than Edmonton, KY’s Chris Robertson. Chris is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Southern Fried Rockers in Black Stone Cherry.
Those guys, I have known since around 2006, and if you asked me which artists are the nicest that I have ever met, I would have said that the guys in Black Stone Cherry win hands down. That is until I got to know Magnolia Boulevard. Now, my answer would be, Black Stone Cherry and Magnolia Boulevard. It’s apparently just a Kentucky thing.
I half-jokingly made a comment to a friend that the notes Gregg Erwin plays, sound like he has the reincarnated spirit of Duane Allman in his hands. While that’s a bit of a stretch now, I’m not so sure it will be for very much longer.
Listen, ask yourselves one simple question. If the talent, work ethic, humility and stage presence weren’t there, would Paul Reed Smith have personally invited Gregg Irwin to become an official PRS Artist? Absolutely not. PRS can have their pick of who they want and our budding Magnolia Boulevard captivated him.
That makes me beam and gush with pride like the family members I mentioned a bit ago.
I want to end this article on something that puts the perfect punctuation on the stories and opinions that I just shared with you. I reached out for a comment from Mr. Smith and what I received back, put a big ole exclamation point on what my heart already knew. Paul Reed Smith said this about Magnolia Boulevard, “Great band. So much fun to watch and listen to! I love who they are and who they will become.”
I rest my case.