On the road with Megan Jean and the KFB
The nomadic Megan Jean and the KFB are making their Triad rounds for a show at Monstercade with Andy Freakin’ Mabe and Emily Stewart on Jan. 4.
“We do it all to keep our chihuahua Arriba McEntire (aka Weebis) in kibble,” jested Megan Jean, the more vocal of the Klay Family Band duo. “She’s been an absolute blessing, and makes everywhere feel like home.”
The last time Megan Jean and her cohort, Byrne Klay, had an address, they were a Charleston act. But that was 10 years and many miles ago. In the decade since, the married couple of classically-trained rovers have racked-up experiences, recorded albums, and made a big old van their home—with a hefty amount of time spent in the Triad.
“The Triad has been one of the most influential artist communities in which we’ve had the privilege of being welcomed into,” Jean said. “I can’t think of a more loving community of artists than the one we’ve experienced there. Golden humans, everywhere.”
Huddled amongst the folkster musical circles, their last official Greensboro visit saw them as the focus for Matty Sheets’ weekly live music drink and draw series. For the upcoming show, they’ll share the bill with songstress Emily Stewart. “She’s one of my favorite people and songwriters,” Jean said of her bill mate. “Her voice is completely unique. Our friendship has always been so easy and supportive; it feels like it’s been around always.”
Jean’s adoration extends to the venue itself. “What in the world would weirdos like us be without places like Monstercade,” Jean said about the Winston weirdo den. “I love that everyone is welcome there, that you can let your freak flag fly and be in good company,” she added, praising the efforts of the Monstercade crew.
“We need counter-culture more than ever now,” Jean continued, “and a place like Monstercade fosters a whole lot more than just shows you know? I think of all the young weirdos and misfits, and how much it means to have a place to go where you’re accepted, welcome, and encouraged to express yourself. I think every town needs a place like Monstercade.”
For someone who’s lived on the road, Jean understands the value of space. Though it’s the connection with the audience that remains salient. “We love to play anywhere people want to hear us,” she insisted. “I’d rather play a house show than be furniture at a bar where no one is listening. I just want to make music for people who want to listen; it doesn’t really matter where.“
With that outlook, they’ve spent the 2010s on the road, calling the Triad their own sort of home for spurts of time. The experience brought opportunities and broadened horizons. “You get to see America from a unique angle,” Jean said of constant touring. “You’re not a tourist, but you’re not exactly on a business trip either. We are cultural explorers, and it’s been a wild thing to see how our country has changed in the past 10 years on the road.”
Staying abreast of our cultural landscape has been key to their artistic development. “It helped me to stop writing solely about my sad sack past, to start writing more about society and my place in it, rather than my old hurts,” Jean said. “Pain is a fine muse for a time, but after a while, it just feels like deliberately opening old wounds just to salt them.”
The result has been three albums of original material, a live album, and more releases on the way. “It feels like we are a different band,” Jean said of their record progression. “We want to continually evolve our sound, so we can really see what we are capable of. It’s easy to do so when the industry leaves you alone. We don’t have to be one-trick ponies, so instead, we get to be the whole circus.”
When they first hit the road, Jean was racking a washboard for percussion that ultimately wrecked her fingers and shoulders. Her powerhouse voice remains central, supported by Byrne on strings and the beat. In 2018, they developed a dedicated show, Lounge Act: The Songs of Nirvana as Jazz, recordings of which are scheduled to be released in the spring.
Looking into the New Year, Jean holds a few resolutions around kindness and keeping healthy. There are plans for a full-length in the works. But she mostly looks to live in the now.
“This might be our last year on the road full-time,” she said. “It’ll wrap up a full decade of traveling. I plan to savor every moment.”
Savor and sing along as Megan Jean and the KFB makes the rounds at Monstercade with Andy Freakin’ Mabe and Emily Stewart on Jan. 4.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report on WUAG 103.1 FM.