Definitely Not Funk

Myra Flynn. Photo: Michael George

By Alicia DeMartini

Every Sunday evening at Red Square’s alley-turned-performance venue on Church Street, you can hear Myra Flynn’s sultry vocals drifting past the late night diners and shoppers. “Every Sunday I come here expecting a really empty house,” Myra said to the audience, “Because… well, it’s Sunday.” However, this Sunday, like so many others, Red Square was filled to the brim with loyal fans and intrigued newcomers. Seated in front was Myra’s dedicated fan base consisting of friends and family, while Church Street passersby paused to listen.

The chemistry that Myra has with her band is obvious, and she couldn’t “sing” their praises enough. Paul Boffa, on the bass guitar, occasionally accompanied Myra on vocals. Andy Harris was on the keyboard; Myra dubbed him the “mad scientist,” probably due to his slightly crazy hair and playful nature on stage. Simon Plumpton rocked the drums, and dealt a great deal of teasing from the rest of the band members throughout the show. Dave Grippo, an “unofficial member” of the band, joined in with his saxophone. Much to everyone’s delight he had been joining in with Myra and friends at their Red Square appearances.

After the show Myra, just 24-years-old, sat down to describe her life, her music, and her ideas over the glowing red candles outside Red Square. Dressed in a cropped top with fashionable high-waisted jeans, her tiny frame is elevated with tall heels, accentuated with a mass of light-brown, curly hair that seemed to reflect her upbeat personality. She grew up in Randolph, Vermont, and has been singing “since forever.”

At the tender age of 16, she got her big break when she was offered a record deal with Wyclef Jean’s Refugee All Stars. This experience helped her to decide that from then on she did not want to be famous. “This is where I want to be,” she said, gesturing to the lights and sounds of downtown Burlington. She went to school at Dickinson in Philadelphia, majoring in English with a minor in Communications. She claimed she was a writer before she was a singer, which helped her in writing her own songs. Along with her own music, she enjoys covering a variety of artists. At this particular Sunday’s performance, the band covered Damien Rice, Corinne Bailey-Rae, and Prince, among others. Her musical inspirations include Erykah Badu and Joni Mitchell. When asked to describe her style of music, she was quick to point out that it was definitely not funk; “There’s nothing funky about us,” she claimed, her bracelets jangling as she emphasized her point. Neo-soul was her description of choice, which matches with the styles of her muses.

In past performances, Myra has opened for the Neville Brothers, Alexa Ray Joel (Billy Joel’s daughter), Slick Rick, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. She’s looking into recording a solo album, and also works as a journalist at the Burlington Free Press; she says she would love to write about what venues pay performers in Burlington. Check out Myra Flynn and her band, Spark! every Sunday night at 8 p.m., at Red Square in Burlington, Vermont.