Magnolia Boulevard is a five piece band built in Lexington, Kentucky. With a variety of musical backgrounds, the group has come together seamlessly on a common sound: balancing the line between blues and rock n’ roll. This group has their own unique story to tell.
Maggie Noelle - Vocals/Guitar
Gregg Erwin - Guitar
John Roberts - Bass
Ryan Allen - Keys
Todd Copeland - Drums
PRS: You are a five piece band with a variety of musical backgrounds. Who are your three biggest influences?
MB: That's a tough one! If you asked each of us that question individually, I don't think any two of us would share one. As a band, however, I think the sound we all have in our heads is some kind of combination of Leon Russell era Joe Cocker, The Allman Brothers Band and Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit.
PRS: Describe your songwriting process.
MB: Every song is different. Sometimes Maggie, Ryan, or John will come in with a song that's 90% finished and the band will add the finishing touches. Sometimes someone will come in with a song that's 90% finished and by the time we're done with it, it's completely different. Lately, the majority of our songs have started with one part. Usually a guitar lick from Gregg or a groove from Todd, or something that just randomly happened in sound check. We'll start with that one piece and during rehearsal, add a couple more pieces, map out a form to a song, record it on a cell phone, and Maggie or Ryan will write lyrics on their own. All-in-all it’s a team effort, everyone pulls their weight.
PRS: You’ve had the opportunity to record in Paul Smith’s personal home recording studio – tell us about this experience.
MB: Recording with Paul is so much fun and we learn something new every time we’re around him. Whether it’s microphone placement on a speaker cabinet, which vocal mic to use, or different ways to dial in an amp, it’s school. He's very professional, punctual, and inspiring at the same time. The man doesn’t quit until he’s got it. We love picking his brain & trying to understand what exactly his ear yearns for. He’s always hearing something magical within the sound which makes you strive to do your best individually and more importantly as a band. We hold the memories dear to our heart each time we get the opportunity to work with Paul and are very grateful for it.
PRS: Maggie – how do you interact with and respond to fans?
Maggie: I can’t help but to feel anything but blown away & honored to hear our fans respond the way they do to our music. Hearing people sing our songs & know every word makes me want to cry right there in the middle of it. I’ve had a few girls come up to me & explain to me how much our song “Sister” means to them & they’ve told me stories on how they’ve shared it with their sister or friend. That means the absolute world to me. I wrote that song with every ounce of my heart for my best friend and to hear that it means just as much to them... well, there aren’t many words to describe that feeling. - I’m forever grateful.
PRS: Maggie – have you faced any challenges being a female in a male dominated industry?
Maggie: There have been challenges with men THINKING that this is a male dominated industry, but that’s about it. : ) There are so many women who just simply don’t get the credit they deserve, in my opinion. I’ve gotten a few classic comments made to me such as, “I sure wish I was a pretty girl too, so that I could get big gigs booked like you have.” What a crock of shit. Go practice. Those guys are the type that think they play the guitar like a god & their ego usually ruins it for them anyway. I’m not the greatest guitarist and I know this. Folks forget that it is after all, just an instrument. A tool used to create a feeling – not a statement.
PRS: Gregg – you play a lot of slide guitar; what is your “go to” guitar and why?
Gregg: My Egyptian Gold S2 Standard 22. Everything about it just feels right and I knew it the first time I picked it up. I remember thinking “This guitar was made for me.” The neck is perfect and has the right amount of fretboard real estate between the high “E” string and bottom of the neck. It makes it so much easier to really grab ahold of a note on the e string, making it perfect for slide. The body is lightweight yet very resonate and responsive to ones style and approach. Everything about the guitar just works. You don’t have to fight with it or think about any nuance that I’ve experienced with other guitars especially while playing slide. As long as it’s in tune you’re good to go!
^ Shortly after this interview, Gregg also received a McCarty that he has been playing very frequently.
PRS: Gregg & Maggie – you’ve both taken a liking to the PRS Sonzera amplifiers – how do they help you achieve the necessary tones for Magnolia Boulevard material?
Maggie: I typically stick to the clean side of the Sonzera amp. It sounds bold yet delicate & bright sounding to me, which I really love a lot and it fits my playing pretty perfectly.
Gregg: What I like most about the amp is it’s versatility. It goes from shimmering cleans to growling at you and everything in between. In the past, I’ve always played single-channel amps so it’s given me another outlet having two channels set up a bit differently. My favorite feature would have to be the two volume controls on each channel. I like to turn the regular volume all the way up and use the master to get the actual volume on the clean channel. It pushes the amp to break up naturally, which feels/sounds familiar yet has its own tone. Then set up the gain channel to use as a boost for lead/solo work. It’s very responsive to the players' hands as well. The mid-range punch gives it a throaty/ethereal sound that I love! One can literally take a guitar and a Sonzera to pretty much any gig and cover a lot of ground with just the amp, pedals are completely optional. At the end of the day, tone is in the players' hands and heart but using an amp you’re comfortable with makes it easier to convey what you want to say with your instrument and give it to the world.
PRS: What’s one thing you want people to know about Magnolia Boulevard?
MB: We’re giving it our all in every note of every song at every show. If we can get someone to forget about their problems for two hours we’ve done our job. It’s flattering to say the least when someone takes time out their busy life and spends their hard earned money to come see us, we want to do the best we can for them.