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Backstage With Elias – Megan Brown

A few years ago, at The Evening Star in Niagara Falls, I had the pleasure of working a show with a bill included the now defunct Buffalo band Dirty Smile. The group was all original and most certainly high energy, fronted by Megan Brown. I was a bit disappointed to hear they disbanded some time later, as I thought they had enough going for them, that they might at least see the fringes of a national circuit. For what I thought they had, and they had plenty to like, it was Megan’s performance that stood out to me. A powerful voice, and tremendous stage presence is what I saw. Still a bit raw at the time, but she commanded the stage like a seasoned pro. And she was only getting started…

Photo Credit: Jack Zuff

A native of Dallas, Texas, Megan started singing in church, most notably with her father. She was raised Baptist, and spoke of her singing experience there. “My dad, he’s a singer. I started doing duets with him when I was little, probably 7. He was big on church, and that’s where I started out singing, in churches, and as I got a little older, doing stuff on my own. There is an artist here, Tina Marie Williams, she was a popular Christian artist back in ‘07-‘08, so I started opening concerts for her. That’s when I started out playing live, for paying gigs. I was 16 or 17 at that point.”

Her family moved to Buffalo around 2004, however, they eventually started moving back. When her father decided to move back to Texas, Megan was left with a choice. “My dad, he was the last one here, he finally decided to move back to Texas when I was 18. I just graduated high school just 2 weeks before this,” She continued, “At that point, I was already starting to sing, I just didn’t want to leave, so I got an apartment.” She’s been on her own in Buffalo since 18, and Dallas’s loss becomes our gain.

Photo Credit: Ray Enzinna

It was shortly after that, where she hooked up with Dirty Smile. “Dirty Smile I met from going to open mics, in particular, The Irishman in Williamsville.” She met a drummer named Adam Smith who introduced her to Gus Walters, the founding member of Dirty Smile. “I showed up and auditioned for the band, after I got to know Adam at these open mics, just learned a couple of their songs ahead of time, showed up, sang them, and that was it.”

Dirty Smile would debut at another open mic, this time at the venerable Tudor Lounge. “We played several open mics here, (also where we met for the interview).” She was very excited about their performances, so one evening, she tossed a few beverages back and went up to the bartender and asked, “How do we get a gig here?” So that’s where they got their first gig. Megan highly recommends open mics to aspiring players. “I would tell any musician, try to figure out how to meet people, how to get out there, go to open mics, they’re all over.”

She cites Gus Walters as a songwriting mentor. “I am lyrics and melody. Gus Walters was my main ‘dude’, he was the one who taught me a lot about writing. He taught me how to be flexible with what I want out of a song so that it could change and grow.” The band had a 7 year run, before calling it quits in 2018.

Photo Credit: Jack Zuff

After Dirty Smile disbanded, Megan was feeling dispirited, and had the feeling that maybe the train had already left the station. “Maybe I’m done, maybe I ran my course.” She thought back, “I’ve always written with Gus, so I was almost like, not trusting my own ability to write. So I was nervous about meeting somebody else, writing with somebody else, who would I feel comfortable with. And then Grace Lougen called, and asked if I wanted to do anything with them.” Feeling intimidated about playing with a true powerhouse talent like Grace, she went ahead and collaborated. And what a match made in rock and roll heaven this would become.

“Grosh” was originally Grace Lougen on guitar, and Josh English, an absolutely solid drummer in his own right, on the skins. With original music in their pocket, they wanted to expand to a full band, so they brought in Dylan Hund, a truly exceptional bass player, and Megan on the vocals. This wasn’t even fair! I’m kidding, of course, but imagine all the best kids chosen to be on the same team in gym class. That is what Grosh has become. Something that was not lost on Megan as she climbed aboard. “When I was joining that band, the worry was am I not good enough, am I not a good enough writer, am I not a good enough singer, because to me, they are like, musical geniuses that can do anything, and in my not-confident head, I felt limited in a way that I felt I wouldn’t be up to par with them. And I was completely wrong.”

Photo Credit: Jack Zuff

Her thoughts on playing with Grosh? “The beauty of it is as soon as we started playing together, I just felt so comfortable with them, and it’s all about comfort. If you’re comfortable, you’re going to be confident, if you’re confident, you’re going to be creative. So I’m a better writer with them than I’ve ever been before, I’m a better performer with them, than I’ve ever been before. They’ve just elevated everything that I’ve already had, which was a pleasant surprise.”

The group has been producing music and videos since joining together, and are available on all streaming platforms, and You Tube. The group has been performing regularly, and have been invited to perform on the largest WNY stages, and will continue to do so as live music returns to our stages. The next opportunity to catch Grosh is this Saturday, as Thin Man on Chandler Street resumes live entertainment. This is certainly a group who has caught fire, and in my opinion has the stones to do great things beyond Buffalo. Megan Brown solidifies a heavyweight lineup bringing energy, passion and a dynamic vocal range surely to leave the audience wanting more. “I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, Ive never stopped, especially when I was younger, I was really shy and quiet, and for whatever reason, when I got up on stage, that’s when I came alive and felt confident. I’m kind of addicted to it.”

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Lead image photo credit: Ray Enzinna

Written by Elias Benavides

Elias Benavides

A goofy kid from Buffalo's lower west side who loved to play the guitar and loved live music. Has moved on to sound engineering, stage lighting, anything live music. Now he's writing about musicians on BR too. Why am I talking in the third person?

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