“What a righteous time to be alive / right here with one another,” sings Magnolia Boulevard’s Maggie Noelle roughly a minute into the joyous and jaunty “Ride.” The words are ostensibly about a budding relationship between two individuals, but Noelle could just as easily be referencing the singular and special connection that exists between her and her Magnolia Boulevard band mates—guitarist Gregg Erwin, drummer Todd Copeland, keyboardist Ryan Allen and bassist John Roberts—or, as likely, their bond with the fans that for the last year have been packing clubs in and around the band’s hometown of Lexington, Kentucky to sing, shout, shimmy and sweat along to the music.
Maggie and Gregg dropped by one of WEXT's Zoom Gatherings recently and introduced us virtually to their music. From there we were hooked!
By all accounts, the music was happening from the very first time the members picked up instruments together, at an old industrial space in downtown Lexington in early 2017. There, the nascent band ran through a few cover tunes—some Tedeschi Trucks, Bonnie Raitt’s version of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery”—and, Copeland recalls, “it was basically chills up your back, like, ‘This is special.’”
From there, Magnolia Boulevard began making a name for themselves through incendiary, improv-heavy gigs at local Lexington-area spots like Cosmic Charlie’s and the Burl— “home base,” as Allen refers to the latter venue. Their ease as a live unit is hardly surprising— individually, the members have logged hundreds of hours onstage in various outfits. What’s more, the stage is literally where several of them first met. Recalls Erwin, “The first time I ever talked to Todd was when we were both playing a fill-in gig for a mutual friend. We finished setting up our gear before everyone else arrived and he looked at me and said, ‘Play something.’ I had this thing in my mind and, out of nowhere, played it. And that actually ended up becoming our song ‘Ride.’”
**Full disclosure: We recorded this session in early July. Since then, the band has renamed the title of their EP to New Illusion. It will be released on Friday, August 7.