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My Oh My of KC is big on sound and soulful Americana

Adam Merker (far right) and My Oh My
Adam Merker (far right) and My Oh My

Adam Merker’s first music experience was in a country cover band with his cousin. But in 2007, they started writing their own songs, so they started a bluegrass band called Free State Revival.

The band split up in 2010, about the time Merker got married and started a family. But by 2012, he was ready to get back into music for the fun and camaraderie.

“I got bit by the bug again, so I called my cousin and said ‘Let’s do it again’,” he said. “But I wanted something that wasn’t bluegrass-y. We had some songs leftover from the other band so we tried to turn it into folk-rock stuff.”

They called the band My Oh My, for no particular reason.

“I was really into early 1970s rock ’n’ roll, and wanted something with a classical sound,” he said. “We’d been popping out ideas, and this came up. There’s no real meaning behind it.”

My Oh My started off as a seven-piece, a reflection of Merker’s designs.

“I really wanted a big group with a big sound,” he said. “And I always knew I wanted girl backup singers. I really like male-female harmonies.”

The band has gone through some personnel changes. It is now an eight-piece, including three backup singers. Its sound is a mix of rock, Americana and soul, delivered with guitars, piano and percussion with soulful backup vocals. Comparisons to The Band are common; every once in a while other resemblances arise: to the Rolling Stones and to some of My Morning Jacket’s material.

“When we formed the group, I was listening to The Band a lot,” Merker said. “I had just watched ‘The Last Waltz,’ which is why we cover ‘I Shall Be Released.’ That was a real goose-bump moment in the movie.”

In 2014, My Oh My released “Your Heart Not Mine,” a full-length that showcased Merker’s rough-hewn tenor, his songcraft and his band’s somewhat vintage, soulful sound: guitars and percussion embellished with some organic piano play and satiny backup vocals.

The band went back into the studio this year and recorded a follow-up EP, “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” a six-track recording. The difference between the two is that this time, all of the songs were written with My Oh My in mind. Several of the songs on “Not Mine” were written before the band was formed.

The songwriting process starts with Merker, but ends up being collaborative.

“I write all the songs, the lyrics and melodies, and record them on my phone or computer,” he said. “I just demo them on acoustic guitar. They’re really loose and rough. Then I give them to the band and it becomes a super-collaborative effort.”

And this time, he was writing from the perspective of a husband and father. “I was in a completely different place,” he said.

Saturday night at the Tank Room, 1813 Grand Blvd., My Oh My will celebrate the release of the digital-only “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way,” which is available now on Bandcamp. The band has done some regional touring but has no grand plans to go out on the road. Instead, the intent is to keep creating music and perform with people you like, Merker said.

“Everybody would like to tour, but with eight people it’s not easy,” he said. “I have a family and a couple other people in the band have families, so it’s logistically difficult to do that. So we just stay around here, and we’re pretty content to do just that.”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Saturday

My Oh My will celebrate the release of “Wouldn’t Have It Any Other Way” at the Tank Room, 1813 Grand Blvd. Bad Math opens. Showtime is 8 p.m.

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