Jesse Winchester / Mac McAnally

Thursday, May 9, 2013

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7:30 pm CDT
coffee, tea, and desserts

Two paragons of song trade hits and stories. Pinch us.


With his famous southern gentility and warm wit, Jesse Winchester has written his way into the hearts of his artist peers.  A recent tribute album, Quiet About It, produced by Mac McAnally, reveals the depth and lyricism of Winchester's work. Lyle Lovett finds every bit of sad beauty in "Brand New Tennessee Waltz," Vince Gill brings just the right swagger to "Talk Memphis," Allen Toussaint's version of "I Wave Bye Bye" is lovely and heartfelt, Lucinda Williams is all rough-hewn grace on "Mississippi You're On My Mind," and Elvis Costello's lo-fi take on "Quiet About It" is stylistically bold but true to the song's nature. James Taylor gives one of his best and liveliest performances in ages with his cocksure version of "Payday," and Jimmy Buffett gives a sharp take on "Gentleman of Leisure." Quiet About It came about when Winchester revealed he'd been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and the artists involved banded together as a show of support (and to generate some songwriting royalties); thankfully, by the time the album appeared, Winchester was in remission, and this splendid celebration of an underappreciated talent arrived while the man who inspired it is still around to take a bow. 

To many, Jesse is still best known for his ideals rather than his music -- in 1967, rather than join the military and fight in Vietnam, he emigrated to Canada, and spent most of the '70s as an exile of conscience. An active live performer, he released his first live album in 24 years with 2001's Jesse Winchester Live at Mountain Stage. Another live album, simply titled Live, followed in 2005. A new studio album, Love Filling Station, was released on Appleseed Recordings in 2009. His most prominently covered songs include "Yankee Lady" (Brewer and Shipley), "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz" (Joan Baez, Ian Matthews), "Biloxi" (Tom Rush, Jimmy Buffett), "Mississippi, You're on My Mind" (Jerry Jeff Walker, Stoney Edwards), "Defying Gravity" (Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris), "Rhumba Girl" (Nicolette Larson), "Well-A-Wiggy" (the Weather Girls), and "I'm Gonna Miss You, Girl" (Michael Martin Murphy). In 1999, Winchester returned from a long recording hiatus with the new album Gentleman of Leisure.


Music was the most obvious road for Lyman "Mac" McAnally to take from his Red Bay, Alabama birthplace and Belmont, Mississippi hometown. He was a guitar and piano prodigy who performed in clubs at 13, wrote his first song at 15 and landed as a Muscle Shoals studio musician at 18. Mac signed his first record deal, with Ariola, at 20 and launched two singles to moderate success on the Billboard Hot 100. "It's A Crazy World" peaked at No. 37 and "Minimum Love" topped out at No. 41.

His songwriting drew the attention of Jimmy Buffett and Hank Williams, Jr., both of whom cut McAnally songs. Alabama took his "Old Flame" to No. 1 in 1981. The song cemented his status as a hit maker, a reputation that has never waned. Reba McEntire, T.G. Sheppard, David Allan Coe, Shenandoah, Ricky Van Shelton, Charley Pride, Randy Travis and Steve Wariner are just some of the artists who cut Mac's songs over the next 20 years.

In the late '80s and '90s, McAnally became an in-demand producer, along the way working with Ricky Skaggs, Restless Heart, Chris LeDoux and Little Feat, among others. He produced the band Sawyer Brown through their biggest successes and penned their signature hits including "The Cafe On The Corner," "The Boys And Me" and "Thank God For You."

Over the course of his career he's built an enviable registry of credits that includes Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Amy Grant, Jimmy Buffett, Travis Tritt, Linda Ronstadt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dolly Parton and many more. And his guitar and vocal skills weren't confined to the studio as he joined Buffett's touring Coral Reefer band, an association that continues to this day. McAnally has also produced several of Buffett's albums and written many of his songs.

In 2007, McAnally was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Country Music Association named him Musician of the Year for the last 4 years in a row. 

Also note:
The Blue Rock Foundation Presents
Songwritng Workshop with Jesse and Mac!
Spend the day at Blue Rock with consummate performing songwriters.  50 seats will go fast.  All levels welcome.  
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 10a.m. — 4:30 p.m.
$150, lunch included
Reserve a seat:

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