Stoked to be back on the California coast for a little while, getting back into the circuit: playing gigs, traveling, and a little surfing along the way. It’s always a hustle, but it’s the hustle I love… That said, I’ve got some regular dates from the summer and fall months that are wrapping up at the end of October and early November, so if you’ve been in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, wine country, or down by Santa Cruz, and you still haven’t had a chance to check out a performance, take a look at my Shows Page, pick one or three that work for you, mark your calendar, and come on by! Most are pretty casual and are generally family friendly, so grab the kids, pull together some buds, and make a night of some music, food, and libations. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon!
Well, after some time spent in Minnesota last week on personal business, I caught a flight back to Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday to scope out the 2014 Americana Music Festival, get my hot chicken fix, and write with a few folks. I arrived just in time to meet up with some old friends, grab some BBQ, and catch a little music at a few, cool, outdoor venues in East Nashville and the west side. Out of all of the acts I saw yesterday, the duo, Hymn for Her (pictured above) absolutely blew my mind. Definitely check them out sometime if they pass through your town! The drummer/singer/harp player/guitar player/banjo player/etc. is one seriously coordinated you-know-what!
In any case, I’ll be back here in Tennessee through this coming Thursday, September 25th surfing couches and writing away until I return to Sonoma, California to perform on Friday, September 26th. (Get details for that performance here.) I should have a couple of new tunes to share when I get back, so if you’re hanging in wine country, mark your calendars now and be sure to swing by on the 26th to check ‘em out and catch up. Until then, if you’re in the greater Nashville, Tennessee area, give me a shout and let’s connect! It’s beautiful down here this time of year and more good folks to meet up with will only make it more so! See ya soon, wherever you are.
After several days of rest including an impromptu surf mission to Northern Baja to catch a south swell and some shrimp tacos, I’m back on the road and, more importantly, back to singing. After nearly 11 days of no singing and VERY little talking, I took the pipes for a test run last night in Sonoma, CA at The Lodge at Sonoma for a casual, three-hour performance. After a few tweaks in the first song or two, things seemed to be working pretty well. However, driving until 4:45 AM this morning to the next town / performance was probably not a great idea! Think that kind of behavior is what might have put me in this little vocal predicament in the first place?! (Live and learn, I guess.)
So far, so good, so I’m back at it for the rest of the weekend with some casual dates in Atascadero, CA tonight (Saturday) and Danville, CA tomorrow (Sunday). These are long ones, so it’ll be a good test to see how well things are holding up. If you’re on the Central Coast or the Bay Area this weekend, check out the performance details here and swing on by for a tune or three. I’d love to see ya!
Well… there are apparently only so many nights one can spend in a truck after playing back to back, marathon gigs. I found out what that number was and my voice is now paying the price. Unfortunately, that means I am now on a doctor prescribed “vocal rest” for the next several days and nights and, as a result, have canceled as many as seven different performances. While I am frustrated, saddened, and will certainly miss playing for these great towns, I feel fortunate that I was able to find some terrific subs to cover for me. So, if you’re in the greater San Francisco Bay area now through next Wednesday, and you’re looking for some good, live, acoustic music, go look up my friends Roem Baur, Rick Hardin and Dan Martin and go see and hear them play! As for me… I’ll be back soon!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.