Morgan’s Road: How one band turned heartbreak into harmony

Araya Jackson

Each band that tours Statesboro brings with them a unique story of how they became a band and what defined them. Charleston, South Carolina band Morgan’s Road and their heartbreaking tale is one that Statesboro cannot let escape unnoticed.

Their backstory and how they became who they proudly are today was no easy journey for the guys. The original band came out five years ago, known as the Kingstreet Band.

One night in April 2011, good friend and bassist Chris Deaver was shot and killed in a robbery while working late night at a pawn shop. The guys never thought they would play together again.

However, they overcame tragedy and allowed it to bring them closer than ever, for Chris especially. The guys knew they wanted to change the band name, but were unsure of what would best represent them.

In his memory and her honor

It was not until frontman and acoustic guitarist Ben Woodruff started to go to bed one night and had a new band name epiphany.

“It just kinda hit me, not in a dream, but it just happened. I knew Morgan was gonna have a road ahead of her that she’d have to walk on without her dad,” Woodruff said in a phone interview. “It’s a generic name, but the meaning behind it is far from generic. It takes back the generic.”

Naming the band after a great friend’s daughter could not have fit better for the group. Such tragedy brought grateful opportunity and growth upon their lives.

A medley of musical styles

Today, accompanying Woodruff, you will find vocalist and drummer Tyler Perry, lead guitarist Skot Bradley and alternating bassists Matt Chmielecki and Brook Sutton.

Morgan’s Road does not classify themselves with a genre mentality. Woodruff described their style as playing what they want, when they want. Woodruff, with a large country upbringing himself, said they sometimes see themselves as a smooth mix of the Lumineers and Chris Stapleton.

“We’re looking for big bass drum sounds and vibes like that from the Lumineers, with the narrative of Chris,” Woodruff said.

Think of them as youthful, funkified Americana, mixed with some southern rock and country. Their music can be seen in a wide array of appealing styles. You’ll find much of this in their first album, Topics of Love.

However, as they are currently working hard in the studio on new material, they are leaning towards a more renowned, rootsy grace, emerged by maturity and Woodruff’s recent move to Nashville. Woodruff intends on this album to be focused much more on narrative style and groove.

On the road again

The guys have been all over the southeast, up north to places like Cincinnati, Kentucky and Ohio, and performed with big name artists such as The Marshall Tucker Band, Hootie & the Blowfish, Lee Brice, Devon Allman, Colt Ford, Kellie Pickler, Sister Hazel and Atlas Road Crew.

There’s no sleeping on this band or the fun vibes they carry with them.

“We are such a fun show, but every show is different. If you see us Friday in Charleston, you won’t see the same show Saturday in Statesboro,” Woodruff said. “I don’t even know what I’m gonna do yet. Skot is gonna take is shirt off though. He doesn’t always, but he will for Statesboro.”

That is a promise Skot is not allowed to break.

With all the fun and talent that Morgan’s Road carries, incredibly, they still keep longtime friend Chris Deaver in mind with all that they do.

Woodruff said, “He always had a smile on his face, and we always keep one on ours for him.”

You can catch Morgan’s Road first show here this Saturday at Dingus Magee’s. Their set starts at 9:30 p.m. and there is a cover charge.

Photos courtesy of Sara Knight.

Ben Woodruff and Tyler Perry are pictured with the sweetheart who inspired the band name, Chris Deaver’s daughter, Morgan. She was pictured on the first album and stays in the loop with the band.

The singer, Ben Woodruff, and the drummer, Tyler Perry, play at an outdoor music venue. Morgan’s Road has played at venues in cities ranging from Charleston, SC, to New Orleans, LA, to Nashville, TN.

From left to right: Drummer Tyler Perry, singer Ben Woodruff, lead guitarist Skot Bradley and bassist Matt Chmielecki. The band’s old name, Kingstreet, paid homage to a famous street in Charleston with the same name.