Local trom­bon­ist has shared the stage with music icons

Boyer, of Bryans Road, has played with Prince among oth­ers

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com

Leg­endary mu­si­cians such as Prince, Sheila E., Chuck Brown, Ge­orge Clin­ton and Maceo Parker have all played with one of South­ern Mary­land’s long­time, in­flu­en­tial mu­si­cians, Greg Boyer.

Boyer be­lieved the sky was the limit for his mu­si­cal suc­cess, and what he be­lieves is his gift, his mu­si­cal ta­lent, has led the way for other fresh, de­vel­op­ing mu­si­cians in South­ern Mary­land.

A na­tive to Bryans Road, Boyer grew up lis­ten­ing to his par­ents play jazz music, along with his brother’s James Brown al­bums, through­out his child­hood. At 10 years old he re­ceived his first sax­o­phone, and the rest was his­tory.

“My style of play­ing is a fruit punch mix of all of the music that I’ve lis­tened to and played while grow­ing up (funk, jazz, R&B and salsa). Even from my early ages of ty­ing rub­ber bands to nails hang­ing on boards and hit­ting them like a banjo, I’ve al­ways had this fas­ci­na­tion with pitch so I think my cu­rios­ity is what re­ally led me in the di­rec­tion of be­ing a mu­si­cian,” Boyer said.

By the time Boyer grad­u­ated from Henry E. Lackey High School, he could play more than 100 in­stru­ments in­clud­ing the sax­o­phone, bass, bas­soon and trom­bone. He was a music major at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land and then af­ter sev­eral semesters he chose to pur­sue music full-time.

At 19 years old he au­di­tioned for Par­lia­ment Funkadelic and be­gan per­form­ing with them in 1978. Boyer stayed in the band for al­most 20 years be­fore com­ing back to the Washington, D.C., metropoli­tan area to play with Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers.

Boyer worked with other no­table artists such as Steve Tyler, Pa­tra, Kid Rock, Eric Benét, Third World, and Richard Smallwood. In 1998 Boyer joined Maceo Parker’s band and still per­forms with them to this day.

One of Boyer’s most mem­o­rable mo­ments in life was when he had the op­por­tu­nity to tour and play with Prince, from 2002-2009. He said it was an ed­u­ca­tion in how to do things on a “big boy” scale.

“Prince wanted Maceo to join his band, and he said, bring that trom­bone player [Boyer] with you — based off of our chem­istry that we have on stage,” Boyer said. “Prince was all about pre­sen­ta­tion and get­ting the music right. He was a per­fec­tion­ist. He wanted the band to look per­fect and sound per­fect.”

Boyer’s wife, Dana, is no stranger to the music in­dus­try. She said she is the adopted daugh­ter of leg­endary mu­si­cian and singer Rick James. When Dana was young her par­ents passed away and James adopted her. She was also very good friends with Prince since she was 16 years old.

Boyer mar­ried Dana in 2003 and they cur­rently re­side in Columbia. They have five chil­dren — Dana’s two chil­dren and Greg’s three — which came to­gether to form the Boyer fam­ily. Since be­ing mar­ried to Boyer for 15 years, and main­tain­ing 35 years of friend­ship, Dana has been his big­gest sup­port sys­tem.

“My hus­band is funny, en­gag­ing and has a re­ally big heart,” Dana said. “He has the heart of a kinder­gart­ner be­cause he has no mean in him at all . ... Along with be­ing a great mu­si­cian, an awe­some friend, and a great hus­band, he is an amaz­ing fa­ther and a lot of mu­si­cians miss that qual­ity. When I saw the love he had for his chil­dren and the re­spect he taught them, I knew I wanted him to be the step­fa­ther to my chil­dren.”

Boyer is cur­rently work­ing on a solo music project and hopes that it will be fin­ished by the end of this year. He also per­formed at the Black Box Theatre in In­dian Head this past Fe­bru­ary in front of fans from all over South­ern Mary­land.

“It was one of the most ex­cit­ing per­for­mances we have had ... and sold out to boot,” said Evie Hunger­ford, chair­woman of the In­dian Head Cen­ter for the Arts. “[Boyer] is a great per­former and the best part is that he wants to come back and se­condly, his Lackey band teacher was there along with some class­mates to cel­e­brate with him.”

Boyer said it took a lot of prac­tice, mo­ti­va­tion and spir­i­tu­al­ity to reach his full po­ten­tial and level of suc­cess.

“Play­ing music is so ben­e­fi­cial for you. It keeps you young and keeps your brain con­stantly mov­ing. It’s been proven that mu­si­cians make bet­ter stu­dents be­cause you ap­ply sci­ence, lan­guages, math­e­mat­ics, physics, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and thrive in at­ten­dance,” Boyer said.

He said the abil­ity to play music is a divine act and a bless­ing to have.

“Be­ing a mu­si­cian is a gift from God — some peo­ple have Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews


Above, Prince per­forms with trom­bon­ist Greg Boyer dur­ing a jam ses­sion at Mon­treux Jazz Cafe in Mon­treux, Switzer­land, in 2007. Be­low, the leg­endary trom­bon­ist Greg Boyer, a na­tive of Bryans Road, con­tin­ues to wow au­di­ences around the world.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS Trom­bon­ist Greg Boyer signs au­to­graphs be­fore per­form­ing with Maceo Parker in An­twerp, Bel­gium, in Au­gust 2016.

Trom­bon­ist Greg Boyer per­form­ing with Maceo Parker in An­twerp, Bel­gium, in Au­gust 2016.

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