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My interview with Chicago Singer – Songwriter Michael McVady. Hope you enjoy. Smooth, contemporary songwriting with the hint of a good 70’s cognac. We talk about songs, recording on the the lake Michigan beaches and open fire hydrants in the hot Chicago Summers.
A little over a year ago I was hosting the open mic at Bernice’s Tavern. I had been hosting and co-hosting it for the last ten years. One thing about your local open mic is the element of surprise. Once in a great while someone will walk in you’ve never heard or met and simply move you. Walsh is exactly that guy.
Usually an artist will woodshed for a time practicing songs they’ve written and get themselves to a point that they think they should go try them out on someone besides their Aunt Kate. Aunt Kate is totally cool but you can’t meet girls playing your guitar in Aunt Kate’s kitchen. Over time you will see the regular open mic players come in week after week, slowly getting better and like in a year or so they end up getting a band together or basically get good enough they leave the nest and eventually move on to regular gigs of their own. It’s really cool to see the progress.
Now I don’t know alot about Ryan other than he walked in with the shitiest god forsaken guitar I think I’ve ever seen. The whole back end of it was peeled off and was like a diving board. Seems this kid was busking his summers away between college semesters at UIC. Who needs internships when you can breath in the life of a city on the streets. I did the exact same thing when I was going there 15 years previous. This kid had a twinkle in his eye that only the Irish get, That’s all I can say.
The night was just right, It had slowed down enough that the few that were in the bar were listening attentively. Which if you didn’t know, is the best case scenario. Well everyone but one person who was too drunk to know that a young kid that played great and sang like Chet Baker was singing.
I was instantly taken aback. This kid must be like 23 and he plays not good, but very good. Sings not good, but very good and unique as well. I promptly got on the phone with my favorite sound engineer nerd “The Captain” Jaime Gartelos. I told him that there’s a kid in here that we need to record. I figured if his guitar is split down the back and he’s busking on the streets during school breaks he more than likely doesn’t have any recordings. Jaime asked me why I was doing this, and I replied “I have to, he’s a talent.” This kid is in his young 20’s. If I had money and time I’d manage him, be his booking agent and buy him a van to make the rounds in.
He was fluid in the songs he was singing and it would be an optimal time to capture them. I got his number and told him that we needed to record a few of his songs immediately. He said when? How’s tomorrow sound? It took some convincing, I imagine he thought I was nuts.
Here are the four songs we tracked at Jaime’s apartment. He walked in, I handed him my guitar and he knocked out four songs. I think he nailed the first take of each one, I believe we maybe did two takes of each song just in case. Perfect every time. You may want to turn this up a bit as these are unmastered tracks. Enjoy. Ryan will be opening for me this Saturday at Blue Island Beer Co. 7pm. FREE SHOW
Let’s talk about our residency show coming up this Saturday night April 14th at Blue Island Beer Company. We will be playing as a three piece. Myself, Jim Parks on Slide guitar and Michael Dumont on bass. We’ve added a few new songs so we will be doing two sets of music starting at 7pm.
Following our first little set we will be bringing in our guest performers to play a small set. Driving in from my hometown of Rock Falls Il. is a trio that goes by the name Wrong Element. If you read my last post about Rock Falls in 1990 you’ll remember I spoke of the very first people I got a chance to play music with, the Padilla Brothers. Joining them on percussion will be Scott Seally. Scott is a music aficionado, he always knows the hot performers before anyone else and has great taste in music. That taste is heard in the songs he writes. Both he and Tom Padilla are pretty avid songwriters. Saturday they will be performing a stripped down acoustic set of original music. It will not suck.
We will follow their set up with another set of songs (and a few solo pieces from both myself and Jimbo)
We will finish up at 10pm. Just in time to take your glass of Metamucil and watch Murder She Wrote and Madlock that you DVR’D on METV.
I will have the “Suitcase of Broken Dreams” filled with old Additives CDS and maybe a t-shirt or two. I will have a few of these neat residency posters there as well. Donations or beer always accepted. Please give me your email at the show or subscribe to the blog so I can keep you informed about the FREE LP VINYL RECORD I am releasing here in a few months. It combines Switchyard Sessions No.1 and No.2 on to a 180 gram vinyl record. I will be giving 2 away (one for you and one to give to a friend) to anyone who signs up on the list.
If you are looking for a bite before the show might I recommend Giussppe’s Trattoria. A no frills family joint that’s been serving up some pretty kick ass Italian fare at a very good price for over forty years. You may want to phone ahead for seats or you can always get a pie to go and bring it around the corner to the brewery. There is also good Mexican and Cajun food in walking distance.
JOE RIAN’S ADDITIVES 7:00-7:45
WRONG ELEMENT 8:00-8:45
JOE RIAN’S ADDITIVES 9:00-9:45
This Saturday March 24 we’ll be playing at my favorite dive bar on the Southside, Bernice’s Tavern.
We lost Bernice last year but her boys still keep the coolers running and the mix of locals and kool kids keep coming in. Settle in at this joint for a couple a pops and you’ll see why this little bar is consistently ranked as one of the best dive’s in the city. The routine at B’s? Stingo on Wednesday, Open Mic on Thursday, Mike’s night on Friday and Bands on Saturday leaves Sunday available for Steve’s crazy Bloody Marys. How do I know all this? Well, you can just say that a friend of mine told me.
We will get started at 9:30 with a mini solo set from myself, Jimbo Delta and BC Carter. Then a full set with the band.