Some songs deliver infectious joy and this is one of those songs. Paula Boggs Band’s ‘Ponies’ is upbeat, foot-tapping, urgent and immensely likeable from start to finish. Boggs’ bright strum is insistent alongside the irresistible fiddle. In the video, we see the delight Boggs and her band take in the performance of their music; she dances and sways throughout and we listeners feel energised and ready to follow. The song is elevated by some terrific backing vocals that enhance the almost-chanted choruses.
Like many of Boggs’ songs, ‘Ponies’ is drawn from her own personal history, a past rich in stories that translate brilliantly into songs. Boggs says of the song’s inspiration: “When I was six years old my family moved from the campus of a historically Black college, where my dad was a professor, to 10 acres in Chesterfield County, VA. Neither of my parents had lived on acreage before. They were both city kids. Somehow, though, the romanticism of owning a horse took hold and, without any experience, and sort of impulsively, my mom went to a horse auction with our next-door neighbors and came back home with a pony. The pony, Flash, was actually pregnant so, before we knew it, we had two ponies we knew nothing about. Thank God for neighbors and, before long, my cousin Junebug moved in with us knowing a thing or two. To this day my mom can’t articulate what came over her to do this, and such is life. COVID gave me space to return to this funnily absurd childhood memory.”
The band have just finished touring up and down the east and west coasts of the USA, promoting their 2022 album ‘Janus’. This fine collection of songs, including ‘Ponies’, is an exhilarating blend of genres and influences, generating a catchy, roots sound that might be called ‘soul-grass’. The Seattle-based band is packed with talented players, such as Mark Chinen on guitar and banjo and multi-instrumentalist Darren Loucas, who supplies mandolin, guitar, harmonica, fiddle, lap steel and vocals. But at the band’s heart is its namesake, lead vocalist Paula Boggs, who also plays guitar and ukulele. A voting member of the Recording Academy, Boggs has a rather stunning CV: from life as Starbuck’s top lawyer to time spent as a vice president at Dell Corporation, from working at the White House to being one of few women to receive a Congressional appointment to the US Naval Academy as an Army Airborne veteran, Boggs has served her country and communities with an energy and commitment that she now brings to her music.
This is hugely enjoyable – check it out.
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