Traditional blues with a twist

The Megan Boyer Band looks to expand its fan base and Roots 'N Blues.

By Alexis Hitt | Oct. 1, 2010

Tags: Music Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ 2010


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Using gritty electric blues accompanied by pure musical passion, the Megan Boyer Band sets its sound apart from others in the Columbia music scene.

The band consists of badass front woman, Megan Boyer (who is also an academic adviser at MU) and vocalist and guitarist Jimmy Steffan, along with a network of other musicians, such as Phylshawn Johnson, Ted Tyson, Shelly Tyson, Bill Newell and Mike Tripp.

MBB quickly became well-known in the Columbia community for its high-energy take on blues since the band’s start three years ago. Since then, the band has released its debut album, That’s What My Baby Likes, and played various area shows and events.

“It’s traditional blues songs that were played in the 1920s and ‘30s, but with this more driving, electrical feel,” Boyer said.

It’s the unique sound and performance that earned the band an hour-long set at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. They'll be playing on the KOPN Flat Branch Park Stage at the annual Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ festival.

Attendees should expect a high-charged set that includes a mix of original songs, traditional blues and neoclassical blues along with funk and R&B.

“People get excited about (Roots ‘N Blues) around here, and it’s great to be a part of that,” Boyer said. “It’s such a cool tradition that these folks are starting for Columbia. It’s also cool because Roots ‘N Blues is the only thing I do that my parents understand. It adds a little creditability to how I choose to fill up my free time.”

The band generates a mix of middle-aged and younger fans, but Roots 'N Blues gives the musicians an opportunity to expand their fan base.

“I hope that, maybe, some people who haven’t been exposed to our music before will see us perform,” Boyer said. “I would like to expose new folks to blues as a genre. To just have a few people who really dig blues to go and experience other artists and look for other artists in the genre -- that would be what I hope to achieve.”

Often overshadowed by mainstream pop music, Boyer explained how many people don’t realize most of today’s modern music stems from blues.

“(Blues) is such an amazing genre of music,” Boyer said. “It’s easy to connect to a form of music that’s about real, tangible things -- love, not being able to find love, money, people, places -- it’s all very real. So I think anyone in the audience can connect to the music in some way.”

The band’s love for the blues stems from a variety of artists and styles. For Boyer, inspiration comes from listening to influential women blues singers of the 1920s, such as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Lucille Bogan.

“This was the first time women sang about things that weren’t just like ‘I will love my man forever no matter what,’” Boyer said. “They sang ‘I use him for his money. I use him because he’s good in bed. I use him for whiskey.’ It’s real stuff, which I think is pretty neat. It’s very empowering.”

It’s this empowerment, along with passion for the blues, that is inspirational for fans. MBB realizes this and connects with their audience by meeting and talking to them after shows.

“I like becoming friends with the people who come out to see us,” Boyer said. “I like to hang out with people, make music and make a little extra money. Plus, most places give me free beer. It’s a perfect part-time job.”

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