Jul 17 2014

Endorsing Artist for Elixir Strings

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So stoked to have renewed my participation in the endorsing artist program for Elixir Strings! In the nearly 23 years that I’ve been playing guitar, no other strings have lasted as long, sounded as good, or played as smoothly as these. I am so grateful and just plain thrilled to be a part of this brand as an endorsing artist.

I’ve been keen on the Phosphore Bronze Acoustic Lights with Nanoweb Coating for some time on my first Taylor Guitars 814ce, but I recently stepped up to the Light-Mediums for my other Taylor Guitars 814ce that I use primarily for slacker, alternate tunings. (Check those out on the Elixir Strings website). The tone is just killer on both instruments and, frankly, it beats out any other manufacturer I’ve tried. For my new Deering Banjos Boston 6-String, I’ve been experimenting a bit with different string gauges, but have finally settled on the Electric Guitar Lights with Nanoweb Coating and a wound third (Check them out on the Elixir Strings website). I know it’s not the traditional way of going for a banjo (a lot of folks abide by the “light is right” mantra), but man… these sound SO good and really work well with the Kavanjo pickup system.

A Sonoma, CA sunset on a pair of Taylor Guitars 814ce and a Deering Banjos Boston 6-String - all with Elixir Strings with Nanoweb Coating.

A Sonoma, CA sunset on a pair of Taylor Guitars 814ce’s and a Deering Banjos Boston 6-String – all with Elixir Strings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t checked out Elixir Strings, do yourself a favor and sample a set. I think you’ll like what you hear, enjoy how they feel, and just love the fact that you will be able to play them for days – even months – without any discernible change in tone. It’s really amazing…

Big thanks to the crew at Elixir Strings for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for my music and my career. #KeepRockin


Apr 29 2014

Newest Addition to the McClean Family

The Boston 6-String Acoustic / Electric from Deering Banjo Company

The newest member of the family is here: The Boston 6-String Acoustic / Electric from Deering Banjo Company

I am so proud to announce the newest addition to the McClean family – The Boston 6-String Acoustic / Electric Banjo! Measuring at 38 1/2″ tall, baby is healthy, happy, and sounding sweet. Daddy is over the moon…

I met the good folks at Deering Banjo Company earlier this year in Annaheim, California at the Winter NAMM trade show and conference. They had a terrific booth set up and tons of friendly people on hand from designers to marketing and artist relations folks, right down to the guy who designed their Kavanjo pickup system. I tested out a few instruments off the rack, but after picking a few notes on The Boston 6-String Acoustic / Electric Banjo, I was hooked – there was no question. A little back and forth ensued with the staff at the trade show booth, some additional picking, and more than a little drooling on my end, to be honest. Now, just a few short months later, I am very proud to say that I have been accepted as an official endorsing artist for Deering Banjo Company and have one of The Boston 6-String Acoustic / Electric Banjos of my very own.

I’ve already tracked it on a few songs and have even done a few banjo-only sets to officially introduce her to the public (she’s not shy). Anyway, it’s been a ton of fun, a great, new, fresh perspective on some of my older songs, and a wonderful writing tool for some new material, too. I couldn’t be more excited and am really looking forward to sharing the sweet sounds of this hand crafted beauty with you at an upcoming performance.

A huge, heartfelt “thanks” goes out to the staff at Deering Banjo Company for their support, encouragement, and enthusiasm for my music. I look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with them and am just so thrilled to have been presented with this wonderful opportunity. Take a few minutes to check out their website at www.deeringbanjos.com or try one out at a finer musical instrument shop near you. You might even do a little drooling yourself.


Apr 16 2014

The B&J Serenader is Back… And So Sweet!

This basement beauty is back in action, thanks to my friend, and a terrific guitar tech, John Mooy.

This basement beauty is back in action, thanks to my friend, and the best guitar tech I know, John Mooy. May I present the B&J Serenader, ladies and gentelmen.

I discovered this guitar sitting in a corner of my grandparents’ basement covered with nothing more than an old, tattered, canvas case. It turns out that my grandmother picked it up at the Salvation Army back in the 50′s as a gift for my aunt who was learning guitar at the time. (I had no idea!) There was quite of a bit of damage to the instrument, but most notably, the neck – the thing was pulling away from the body and had nearly a centimeter gap at one point! The string action was so high that it was really only playable (if at all) as a slide guitar. I could sort of fret up to the third fret, but on a good day, it was slightly out of tune at best.

Fast forward several, SEVERAL years later… I learned a few slide guitar licks and was in the midst of recording my first solo album with my friend, co-producer, and engineer, Boone Spooner. Some of the stuff just begged for slide, so I rediscovered the instrument and played it a bit on the recordings. I loved what I got out of it on songs like “Truck”, “Sign Me Up” and “Hard As I Try”. The instrument sounded so cool… so retro. Since then, it basically sat unused in storage either in San Francisco, CA or, most recently, in Nashville, TN. It was a sad existence for this thing. Enter my friend, a wonderful guitar tech, and host of Guitar Tech Tour Talk, John Mooy.

Guitar tech extraordinaire, John Mooy, holding the revived B&J Serenader earlier.

Guitar tech extraordinaire, John Mooy, holding the revived B&J Serenader in the lounge of his workshop.

John has tour managed, run FOH and stage sound, guitar tech’ed, and studio engineered for some of the most notable artists in the business, run an artist relations department at a major manufacturer, and just about every other thing you can possibly imagine doing in the music scene. To say he has a lot of experience is the understatement of the year… In any case, I follow John’s Facebook and Twitter profiles online. Not long ago, he posted an image of a nearly identical guitar that he was working on with nearly the same issues as mine. The similarity was uncanny… So, I reached out to him, set up a time to meet, and swung by his shop en route to Los Angeles, CA to do some demo vocal tracking for a songwriter I met earlier this spring. Some time later, I got the call that the instrument was ready to rock. That was earlier today, and pretty much since then, I have been playing it non-stop.

I honestly can’t thank John enough. I never thought this guitar would (or could) ever play and sound this good. The transformation is remarkable. I’m so impressed and really can’t recommend his work highly enough. I know John doesn’t need any recommendations or endorsements (he’s one of the best in the business at what he does), but if you’re in need of some specialized work on an old, vintage, or otherwise important guitar to you, look him up! In the mean time, I’m gonna put this laptop away and get back to pickin’.

PS: Don’t tell my aunt… this thing plays so well, she just might want it back! ;)


Jan 27 2014

New Song Airing on The CW Television Series, “Hart of Dixie”

My new song, "Can't Have It", co-written and recorded with Adam Zelkind, will air on Monday, January 27th on The CW series, "Hart of Dixie".

My new song, "Can't Have It", co-written and recorded with Adam Zelkind, will air on Monday, January 27th on The CW series, "Hart of Dixie" at 8pm Pacific / 7pm CST.

I am really pleased to announce that a song I co-wrote and recorded with my friend, Adam Zelkind, will air this evening, Monday, January 27th, 2014 on The CW television series, “Hart of Dixie”. I paid Adam a visit back in November and we cranked out a few tunes, had a ton of fun, and felt really good about what we did. A few days later, we got the call that one of them secured a placement in the show, “Hart of Dixie”.

This will be the second song the two of us have landed on the show, and we couldn’t be happier. It features lots of acoustic slide guitar played on my Taylor Guitars 814ce and Elixir Strings, and a healthy helping of overdriven electric slide, heavy drums, bass, and vocals. It’s a rocker… Tune in TONIGHT at 8:00pm Pacific / 7:00pm Central to see and hear the new episode and check out our new tune. For additional details on the show, more information on where it will be airing in your town, etc., click on over to the show website.

Big thanks to the crew over at The CW Network and Warner Brothers Television for their support.


Jan 6 2014

NorCal Residency This January-March 2014

Right before load-out at the base of one of California's premier mountain resorts in North Lake Tahoe, CA.

Post performance on 1/4/14 at the base of one of California's premier mountain resorts in North Lake Tahoe.

It’s been a terrific Christmas and holiday season, but I stumbled into 2014 with a fantastic cold / flu combo that had me off the road and down for the count for seven (7) days at my buddy’s house in Salt Lake City, UT this past week. (Great to see you… Surprise! I have the flu!) Fortunately, I was able to get it back together and finish my journey out to Truckee, CA where I’ll be spending the winter playing some regular dates in ski country. I kicked the cold and kicked off my performance dates this past Saturday, January 4th, 2014 at the base of Squaw Valley USA for a fun, outdoor performance in the warm, afternoon sun. I had a killer time and it was a great way to lead off the season with the mountain crowd. Keep your eyes on my calendar for upcoming dates in the area continuing on Friday, January 10th at Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge in Tahoe City, CA. It’s gonna be a great season of skiing and music, so come join me!

First turns of the season in North Lake Tahoe, CA followed by the first parking lot hang of the season. (Where's the snow?)

First turns of the season in North Lake Tahoe, CA followed by the first parking lot hang of the season. (Wait... Where's the snow?)

I’ve already made some turns since arriving in Lake Tahoe, but the truth is, we need more snow. So, join me in doing a little snow dance (I’ll provide the music) and let’s turn this place into the winter wonderland it ought to be. In the mean time, mark your calendars and come catch a show or two this winter up here in the mountains. I’d love to see you! New dates are being posted weekly, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears open!


Dec 18 2013

Final Vocal Tracking on New Album

Final day of vocal tracking in the studio on Monday. Nearing the end!

Final day of vocal tracking in the studio on Monday.

After much back and forth, it seems as though I’m finally nearing an end to the recording process for the new album. I finished tracking final vocals this past Monday with Sam Ashworth at the helm over at The Art House in Nashville, TN and things are looking and sounding pretty solid. I will be getting a first pass edit of all the tracks later this week and can’t wait.

Kicking things off at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN with the guys.

Kicking things off at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN.

Starting back in June, we kicked off tracking with the band in a live, analog setting over at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN with Andrija Tokic engineering to 2″ tape assisted by Greg Thompson and a host of outstanding musicians in the studio including Audley Freed (electric guitar), Robert Kearns (bass), Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes (drums), Jimmy Wallace (keys), Rob Ickes (dobro), and Joe Spivey (mandolin). We got some killer live performances with some good scratch vocal takes, but I ultimately wanted to spend a little more time on things, so with the help of David Hall down at First Avenue Sound in Franklin, TN, I transfered the 2″ tape to Pro Tools and dug back into the project with a few edits and a fresh approach to some final vocal takes. The results, so far, are super promising, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Stay tuned here and on my Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on the final mix, master, and upcoming release dates. It’s been a wild ride, and a long time coming, so it’s going to be quite a feeling when this project is all said and done. Thanks for hanging in there, friends! I am so excited to get this thing out there and am stoked for you guys to hear the final product.


Dec 9 2013

Catching Up

Tracking some bass for a new tune written and recorded with Adam Zelkind on a recent trip to Santa Barbara, CA.

Tracking some bass for a new tune written and recorded with Adam Zelkind on a recent trip to Santa Barbara, CA.

It’s been a crazy month or so with travel, writing, and family time for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I’m back in Nashville and cranking away on a few projects while preparing for a winter performance calendar out in California. Along the way, I had a killer trip out to Santa Barbara, California to write and record with my friend, Adam Zelkind. Adam and I did some writing and tracking in early 2013 and were lucky enough to get one of the songs we wrote and recorded on The CW show, “Hart of Dixie”, in March of this year. We spent nearly a week writing, recording, and brainstorming and finished up a few great songs. We’ll see if we get any placed this time around!

Thanks to Mama McClean, I now offer "Chi's Chunky Chicken Chowder Chocked with Chicken".

Thanks to my mom, I now offer "Chi's Chunky Chicken Chowder Chocked with Chicken".

Basically, the entire time I was in Santa Barbara, we operated on a diet of soft boiled eggs and toast followed by chicken from Costco that we destroyed every day around lunch time. It as a little nippy in Santa Barbara, believe it or not, so I got a recipe from my mom and starting kicking up some soup with the leftover carcass and a few veggies. (Mm!) Keep an eye out for canned “Chi’s Chunky Chicken Chowder Chocked with Chicken” at my next merch table at a performance near you. ;)

Waiting my turn in the round on stage at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara, CA.

Waiting my turn in the round on stage at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in Santa Barbara, CA with some great writers.

We did get outside occasionally, and one night, Adam and I shared the stage at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club in downtown Santa Barbara with Nicolette Hayford (and Adam’s “Z Spots” for backup singers) in the round. It was a ton of fun and a great event hosted by Durango Songwriters Expo, which has provided a tremendous support network for me as I continue to write and perform my material near and far. Be sure to check out their website to learn more if you’re a writer or performer.

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

When I finally returned to Nashville, TN after my western excursion, I high-tailed it back to my folks’ place for Thanksgiving dinner (pictured above) which set me back about a day or so – unbelievable amounts of food! We had an awesome time together catching up while cooking and enjoying some tremendous (and tremendous quantities of) food along the way. Now, back in town and enduring the colder climes that are typical, I suppose, of early December in these parts, I’m digging back into finishing this full band recording I’ve been wrapping up for some time, and am eager to get it out to you all. I’ll keep you posted as it develops and will be sure to let you know when it’s available for purchase! In the mean time, here’s to a happy holiday season to you and yours. Be merry, be bright, and be good… See you all soon!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Cheers!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Cheers!


Nov 10 2013

Back to the Grind

With an exciting final round of the Puckett’s Rising Star Songwriter Contest this past Tuesday, the last week was a whirlwind of co-writes, meetings, and the seemingly endless housing search. While I just missed the 1st place finish in the contest at Puckett’s, I am totally stoked for my friend, Bill Griese, who took it on home. Every time I hear his song, “On Three”, it’s all I can do to keep the tears at bay. (Great job, Bill!) Definitely check out his music and pick up his latest album on iTunes.

Last night, I played a fun show with two friends, Olivia Rudeen and Jody Mulgrew at the brand new Music City Pizza here in Nashville, TN. We had a hoot, ate some great pizza, and sang our little hearts out for a nice crowd before the grand rock show kicked off next door at 12th & Porter. Music City Pizza is a great, community-focused restaurant, bar, and all around hang that supports local writers and performers (a portion of some of their proceeds from some of their specialty pizzas actually are donated to up and coming artists in town – let’s get a “Chi Pie” going, people). Please go check it out the next time you’re looking for a bite to eat and say hi to the gang there for me. The pizza is insane and I guarantee you will love it… :)

NEXT UP: more writing this week with a break on Thursday at Soulshine Pizza Factory in Nashville, TN to perform a round with some Americana folks. Grab the details here and meet us for some grub and a chill, early hang right off Music Row. It should be a fun evening and I’d love to see ya there!


Nov 4 2013

“Puckett’s Rising Star” Contest Finalist

Cousin It, I mean... ME on the right after advancing to the finals of the "Puckett's Rising Star" Songwriter Contest on October 29th.

Hanging with the judges and three other finalists after advancing to the final round of the "Puckett's Rising Star" Songwriter Contest on October 29th, 2013 in Franklin, TN.

Stoked to head back to down to Franklin, Tennessee this Tuesday, November 5th to compete in the final round of the “Puckett’s Rising Star” Songwriter Contest at Puckett’s Boathouse. My good buddy, Bill Griese, also advanced to the final round with a killer song called “On Three”, and I’m stoked to hear some more of his tunes. He and I have performed together a little bit and, I can say this from personal experience, the dude has some serious songwriting chops. Can’t wait to see what tricks he pulls out tomorrow night at the main event!

I, Bill, and two other local writers will be trading four (4) songs each, in the round, starting at 7:00pm this Tuesday, November 5th. The sound is killer, the food is outstanding, the vibe is cozy, and we’d all love to have you there as we battle it out for bragging rights! For additional directions and details, or to make a table reservation for the event (highly recommended), click on over to the Puckett’s Boat House website or call the venue directly at (615) 790-2309. ($5.00 Cover / All Ages Welcome) Thanks for your support and see you soon!


Oct 14 2013

Tacos, Bimbo’s & Studios

Get your mind out of the gutter... I was talking about my show at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, CA with Herbert Grönemeyer!

Get your mind out of the gutter... I was talking about my show at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, California with Herbert Grönemeyer!

It’s been a fun couple of weeks kicking off with some studio time to wrap up a new, full band recording here in Nashville, TN peppered with my favorite tacos in the world and an awesomely fun, sold-out show in San Francisco, CA supporting Germany’s Herbert Grönemeyer. After some bouncing around, and a brief break to hang with family for a few days, I’m back in town here in Nashville and warming back up to the co-writing thing. But, still… it’s tough not to remember the tacos out in California from my last trip. I mean, look at these things (see below):

Chino's Taqueria on Balboa & 25th Avenue in San Francisco, CA. Was, and always will be, one of the best the West Coast has to offer.

Chino's Taqueria on Balboa & 35th Avenue in San Francisco, CA. Was, and always will be, one of the best.

I used to go to this joint about 4 times a week after surfing Ocean Beach in SF. In fact, I went there so frequently that they gave me a hat. No joke. It’s that good, and I was (still am) that addicted. When I cruised into town for my gig at Bimbo’s 365 Club, I had to make a stop for their tacos and a Mexican Coke. They did not disappoint. I shouldn’t tell you all this for fear of having this place blow up and preventing me from getting my tacos, but if you go to SF, check them out. No website, no nuttin’, but a ton of amazing Mexican food. Chino’s Taqueria on Balboa at 35th Avenue. Do it… and tell ‘em I said hello! PS: It helps if you speak Spanish. PPS: they’re CASH ONLY.

Back at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN with The McCrary Sisters lighting up some background vocals.

Back at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN with The McCrary Sisters lighting up some background vocals.

2,000 miles away in Nashville, I returned from my west coast trip to record The McCrary Sisters for some background vocals on my latest project. I got a referral from the guitar player (Audley Freed) and keyboard player (Jimmy Wallace) on my sessions and, man… these ladies knocked it out of the park. Very cool. Afterwards, we hit it hard with two straight days of mixing to tape. Pretty stressful making mix decisions without the digital crutch to fall back on, but we ended up with some great sounds, thanks to Andrija Tokic on the board. After some more listening and evaluating, I’ll be moving on to the mastering phase of the project, and then… manufacturing. Can’t wait to share this one with you guys!

(L-R) Greg Thompson and Adrija Tokic working hard on the mix and making things sound sweet.

(L-R) Greg Thompson and Adrija Tokic in the control room at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, TN working hard on the mix and making things sound sweet.

So, it’s back to the writing scene, getting back in touch with Tennessee, and planning for more performances to close out the year. Keep your eyes peeled for a release date on the new recording and look me up if you head down to Nashville! See ya soon, friends.


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