Local trombonist has shared the stage with music icons
Boyer, of Bryans Road, has played with Prince among others
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.