"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.
Central to the Magnolia Boulevard experience is a sound that flows easily and seamlessly from a multitude of stylistic tributaries. There's plenty of blues, soul and rock 'n' roll in the mix, but also elements of funk, jam band, folk, jazz, country, bluegrass, psychedelia and other music. And it's all fueled by the rhythm section's elastic, tight-but-loose grooves, shot through with Erwin's expressive and incisive slide guitar licks and topped by Noelle's soul-stirring, powerhouse vocals.
"As a band we're coming from the mind set of groups like Joe Cocker and Leon Russell with Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Allman Brothers," Erwin says of Magnolia Boulevard's musically omnivorous approach. And indeed, talk at length to the members and they'll fire off a wide range of individual influences, from Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin and Neil Young, to the Grateful Dead, Elton John and Miles Davis, to Sly and the Family Stone, John Prine and John Coltrane. But the key to what they do together lies in the unique way they absorb and put their own spin on these sounds. "We don't ever nail ourselves down to one thing," Roberts says. "We're always conscious of letting the music be the music and just allowing it to happen.
Which brings us full circle to the communal experience that is at the very heart of Magnolia Boulevard's music. It's an intuitive and intense conversation between musicians that extends from the stage out into the audience - and that is now set to be shared with the world at large.