I’ve done a LOT of benefits in my day; Benefit for the Cure, Benefit for the Northen Chautauqua Youth Hockey Organization, for my friend Kerry Peterson, for Tiffany Lindquist after she a car accident, to help the Mason boy get home, for the Silver Creek Flood Victims, for Second Harvest Food Bank, for the March of Dimes, for the Variety Club, etc…
I’ve done a lot of ‘em.
I don’t know WHY I expect them to be poorly organized…looking back at the ones I’ve participated in they’ve all been run pretty well, some better than others, none incompetently. I expect the sound (system) to be bad; looking back in my experience it’s usually pretty decent; If there’s a house band I expect them to be lame: thinking back on it most have been pretty okay, some even excellent. I expect turnout to be slim: that’s not usually the case..I’ve played early on the bill on a few that have been light in attendance but they always had a fair turnout over the day for the most part.
Still I have these prejudices, these reservations, these low expectations for anything I sign on to for free in the name of a cause.
Cause why? I have NO idea-thinking back now-yet I do.
So after having spent way too-late of a night revelling with my buds Bare Back Jack (see you all in rehab) Saturday (and having-to-drive I behave and it was weird to watch other people get hammered for once and holy shit, If I though WE could party, the BareBack guys have a leg up.
Be proud of that guys. That says something. I AM impressed.
So anyway, after spending a late Saturday in Erie watching Chris and Pete pass the tequila back and forth I get up Sunday and load up the SUV withn a small PA for my afternoon gig at the Lakeview and pack some merch for the St Judes Benefit and it’s a spectacular day to be driving through Amish country…blue skies and snow covered hills, but pretty warm and the roads are dry and I go to Olean thinking–expecting=-to play for a small handful of people at two-in-the-afternoon and that it might only be less than a handful later in the day at the Lakeview; after all; who want’s to be inside on a beautiful day like today and why would anybody come out tonight when the Academy Awards are on? My expectations are very, very low. I’m steeled against the thought of playing to the bar staff after being spoiled with weeks of sell-out crowds on the road w/ Eric Church. I’m okay with it. I almost feel like I deserve it: things have been too good lately, the other shoe must drop. I’m heading back to cover band hell with my head held high, but I’m expecting the journey to feel like work. Again.
I make my way up over the Hill on Route 83 past Blacks Corners, through Chicken Tavern (there really is a place called that–Jimmy-my-drummers -parents live there) through South Dayton and Little Valley, past Jeff Beckley’s house to the Allegheny Casino where I get on the I-86 and head west to Olean (pronounced Oh-Lee-Ann) NY. My GPS tells me to turn into a small industrial park after I get off the interstate and I’m thinking “oh No…” And the road winds around and the Magellan is going “approaching destination,” and lord-have-mercy the parking lot of the Premier Banquets Center is FULL. It’s FULL and it’s a BIG parking lot. I’m thinking maybe there folks who work at the mill-or-whatever-it is next door are parked here and I walk in and Woah! There’s a LOT of people here..It’s TWO in the afternoon, am I hallucinating? There’s a band on stage-and they sound great. The whole thing is running on schedule…
So-I had all these plans for what I’d play and what I’d say and they kind of get thrown out the window. I hurry to set up my merch table and get my guitar tuned (they’re ON schedule) and I’m introduced by Mark Thompson from WPIG Fm and I play “Honky Tonk Life” and introduce Myself to the audience which is mostly a lil older and I call out to any other musicians who are waiting to play that wouldn’t mind backing me up and I go into “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” and by the time I’m to the end of the song I have most of a band backing me up and I figure “older audience. play older songs,” and if you’re reading this and you didn’t know that I love the old school stuff, well I LOVE the old school stuff and after playing Merle I went into “Together Again” and these guys jamming with me know this stuff real well and I’m having too good of a time and as the story goes I have a Big Ole’ time playing Classic Country for an hour before I relinquish the stage and tell this awesome audience that I’ll be at the table by the door with CD’s and t-shirts and that I’m not just donating my time today, I’m donating half the take on merch to St. Judes….
And by the time I even make back to the table-which was tough ‘cause I got hounded for autographs all the way there-the line at the table is very long and that stack of CD’s I had to sell is GONE, as in SOLD OUT. Woah! And I sold and signed a ton of T-Shirts and Posters and when I finally had to sneak out the back to get to my next gig that “half of the take” amounted to several hundreds of dollars.
And I think it’s a fair assumption to say that my assumptions surrounding Benefits have had a paradigm shift in the wake of yesterdays events. My faith has been-if not restored-then established.
Thanks WPIG. Thanks Olean. Thank you St. Judes Childrens Hospital; it was an honor and a privilege.
And from Olean I hurried on westward, I am-scrayed, ski-daddled– what have ya– on over to the Lakeview in “Mayberry,” Mayville, NY. Again, my expectations low. Justifiably so ; We came here right on the heels of “Ten Days on Tour,” an experience I thought would change my life and there we were, watching ourselves on TV at The Lakeview with maybe twenty people there. Not that the Lakeview is a big place, twenty people and it doesn’t feeel empty, but still it’s twenty people. We’re on TV. Nationally syndicated TV….I think twenty people saw that show, and that’s a liberal estimate.
And If twenty people seems like not-a-lot, consider that I have played the Lakeview to NO one. I mean NO one, not even the bartenders. At one of my Sunday afternoons there two summers ago, It was suggested that I play out on the patio (at least until the Bills game was over) and I did And it was a nice enough late summer day when I started and I think the plan was that maybe some bikers might stop by if they saw me playing out on the porch and that might have worked ‘cept the weather turned ugly and there I was on the patio, playing in the rain, soaking-wet, to the passing traffic. It was about the best example I can give of “this is so beyond-lame that all you can do is laugh about it,” And I did if I remember correctly. There I was in this god-awful weather and I was like “this looks like Ireland right now…” and I ordered up a Guinness from Inside and started singing Irish stuff: Pogues, Flogging Molly’s, Traditional stuff and after awhile a few cars stopped––probably mostly out of curiosity– and by the end of the afternoon I was under the awning sitting at a table with some folks who had a cottage across the lake. Playing them whatever they wanted to hear..they invited me over to the house for dinner (I didn’t go) and threw a couple hundred bucks in tips at me and the day ended up being a victory and one I’ll never forget.
Regardless. I drove a gazilion- miles-an-hour from Olean to Mayville to try and make the gig on time and I get there at about 4:45 for a 5pm start and there’s a few cars in the lot and maybe forty people inside waiting for me…they’re not just there coincidentally. I know this because I walk in and its “where the hell ya been?” and I’m like “I’m not late, yet..” And there’s a few of my regulars: Kat and Dawn from Erie are there, Pug from-the-bar is there, the Dunkirk people are there.. Randy Hofgren is there. “Dude, isn’t this show a lil OLD already?” But I’m happy to give the Swede an excuse to get out of his man-cave on a Sunday.” And Elaine is out with him so I’m figuring there’s your designated driver..Randy is going to misbehave (this later proves to be a correct assumption). And I get set up and Coach and Teri show up and Stacie St. George and Missy Coyle show up and the two-Nancy’s-from-Erie show up and I’m walking to the Mens rooms and this fella walks up and say’s “hey man, I’m the guy who re-soled your boots,” and thus I made the acquaintance of Tony “short-shoes.” And I get to playing and everybody is havin’ a good time and making noise and the beer is flowing and the Jager starts coming and I have to put the brakes on when they’re lined up in front of me “Dude’s I’m driving.” And Keith and Heather show up some other folks with familiar faces whose names I don’t know show up and I’m thinkin’ all I ever wanted to be way-back-when is to be that guy who has that show that is the “thing to do.” Keith Urban had that way back when I first moved to Nashville. Before he was famous. He played Jacks Guitar Bar once a month and If you were hip you didn’t miss it: It was “the thing to do.” The Warren Bros had that at the Bunganut Pig: “We ain’t the best band in the world, but ya gotta admit we are FUN.” It’s a hard thing to build. And there I am in Mayville, NY– looking at the room that– on a Sunday afternoon (make that a Sunday evening) when the Academy Awards are on–is FULL. And it’s just me and my guitar and the place is rockin’ and the girls are dancing–Randy HOFGREN is dancing–and when it’s time to call it a night and let everybody watch the Oscars on TV the tip jar makes it around the room and comes back with some tens and twenties in it and it’s “Hell with the Oscars McGraw. You ain’t done playin’ yet!”
And between the nice people in Olean and my friends who came over the hill to the Lakeview I came home with some cash in my pockets (a good thing considering I’d have to invest in a new snow tire, a new spare and some maintenance on my trailer the next day) and the very satisfying feeling that maybe I’ve finally gotten to that point in my so-called-career where maybe I’m not rich or famous but my show is “the thing to do.”
It was a great day. Thanks Kat and Dawn, Coach and Teri, Randy and Elaine, The two Nancy’s, the Dunkirk people, Keith and Heather, Pug, the snowmobilers and Ice fisherman, Stacie and Missy, all those familiar faces who’s names I don’t know…you’re why I do what I do.
Enjoying just a few days off between Jager Country Tour dates and NASCAR dates (I think we picked up a few more of them today) and then we’re off on that road again, and for a good cause.
This SUNDAY, March 7th, I’ll be headin’ up North to participated in the 10th Annual WPIG St Judes’ Jamboree at the Premier Banquet Center in Olean (pronounced OH-LEE-ANN) N.Y. The folks at the “Big Pig” have always been awesome to me and there’s no better cause than fighting children’s cancer. There’s a whole host of bands playing all day. I’m on at 2pm. The Premier Banquet Center is located at 2000 Constitution Ave., Olean, NY. More info at wpig,com
Later on Sunday I’ll head down the road a piece to our favorite little watering-hole-on-water-str
eet, the LAKEVIEW HOTEL in Mayville, NY. I guess we didn’t know that the Academy Awards were going on Sunday night, but no worries, I start at 5pm, end at 8pm (just as the show starts) let’s think of it as a pre-party…
LAKEVIEW HOTEL is located at 13 Water St. (Rte 394) In “Mayberry” (Mayville) NY.
NEXT WEEK: We head to Wisconsin to get a jump on the JAGER COUNTRY TOUR w/ ERIC CHURCH. We’ll be at ROPERS in Superior all week and then meet up with Eric and Josh Thompson in Madison WI, on March 17th (St Paddy’s Day. Woo hoo!!)
From the goings-on at the bridge bar I sauntered on over to the Wild Horse (actually NO I didn’t “saunter,” who the hell ever does? Dude’s don’t “saunter, they swagger)– Make that I swaggered over to the Wild Horse–kind of in a hurry ( perhaps “scurried” is more like it) part of life on the road is losing things: on this Jager Meister Country Tour we-as-a-band have thus far liberated ourselves of Keith’s winter coat, Joe’s very-expensive winter coat, my cool-but-cheap-pleather winter coat, my brand-new hoodie…I’m looking back in amazement that of all of us in the entourage neither member of my Scandinavian rhythm section has contributed an offering to the universe. I
It’s coming Hofgren, you’re due, Isula.
I hurried over to the venue hoping I could help find the lock to the trailer–too late; Keith cut it off. Nice to know how easily those expensive locks will protect your property eh?
(There I go with the Canadian….speaking of which, CONGRATS CANADA, It really hurts to lose to you after such a hard-fought game, but anyone who loves hockey should love watching Sidney Crosby and from what I heard it was a great game and from what I saw it was a great goal. I love my country, but why be a sore loser? Fine, Canada, you WON. The LaBatt’s— NO make that the BUDWEISER— is on YOU.)
So anyway, where was I? Yeah, at the Wild Horse, waiting to open for Eric Church on the JagerMeister Country Tour. Keith cut the lock off and the gear made it’s way upstairs and the usual routing changed to let us play a full ½ hour and Jonathan Singleton is on the bill as support and Josh Thompson is somewhere else. Where, I don’t know.
Thursday night in Nashville is wive’s night I guess. Renee met up with me over at the Hard Rock for a little meet-greet-and-grab-a-beer with the nice gals from Country Tattle tale and I don’t remember who does what but it’s weird–or shall I say untypical of yours truly-–to remember that their names are Jessica, Mariah, Elisabeth and Leslie (and this occured before the Jager flowed…go figure?) Anyhow..We had a nice hang before the show and my wife is there and I go back over to the “Horse and Rick Monroe’s lovely wife is there and after we Rock it (and I’d say we did) I walk back in the dressing room and Katherine Gooch-Blasingame is in the green room standing behind Eric Church and she’s like “Sean, how’ve you been!?” and give’s me a big hug and I look at her and I look at Eric and I’m like “y’all got married a few years ago, didn’ ya?” Ya see, Katherine used to be the song-plugger at Jody Williams Music Publishing, which is the company that bought my old catalog, so in a way she used to pimp out my songs and I guess I know Katherine well enough, but it’s been along long time and I’m like “wow’ it’s great to see you, I guess I vaguely remember reading in the paper that you kids got hitched and I remember thinking damn, that Eric Church did alright for himself…”
After exchanging niceties (sincere niceties) with Katherine and Eric and their families I went out front to be with my family–meaning I watched Jonathan Singleton rock it with Randy and Jimmy and Joe and we all though Jonathan’s band was pretty great and I think the dude has written some great songs (Red Light, Watching Airplanes, etc..) and it was cool to meet him after and tell him that I think he writes great songs and he seems like a real good dude and anyhow..the Jager got to flowing and a good time was had and Eric really, really tore it up and I’m just happy to be a part of the whole thing.
Thanks again, JagerMeister
peace and love
Check out this article from the Nashville Examiner and see what they have to say about Sean’s Nashville Jagermeister Country Tour show tonight in Nashville.
“Country music’s Sean Patrick McGraw will unleash his “zietgeisty brand of country-rock” at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon on Thursday, Feb. 25, when he sets the musical pace for headliner Eric Church on the Jagermeister Country Tour.
This scribe’s made it no secret that Sean Patrick’s one of her favorite new artists; thus, for those who like their country that goes a bit off the beaten path as it were, the Steve Earle-meets-Dwight Yoakam-inspired performer is worth investigating.”
[Read the full article at Examiner.com]
So the Jager Country Tour w/ Eric Church rolls into town tonight, and by town I mean hometown-or shall I say “adopted” home town, Nashville, TN, or Nashvegas as I find myself calling it and I mean that in the most derogatory sense to be honest. It’s been great spending a whole three nights in a row in my own bed, even if I have been rolling in pretty late every night. The band (or half of it) has ben in town and I’ve been playing tour guide. Night before last it was down to BiG Shotz to see out friend Dominic play with Alan Jackson-no, not THAT Alan Jackson..an 18-year old kid with that name who does a very grown-up job of fronting a band. Dominic and our other friend Cassady Feasby (who was also on this gig) have both played in my band at one time or another and they both play full time with my friend Warner-Bros- recording-artist Jason Jones. So it was weird when we left watching the Alan Jackson show and we going to call it a night that we walked by Legends corner and then band sounded good from outside and “what the hell, let’s have one more..” that we walked in and the guy playing is named Jason Jones-but it’s not “our” Jason Jones. And this guys band is really good-no make that they’re friggin’ excellent-and we hang for a bit and me and Joe sit trying to figure out what the hell the guiatr player is doing: this guy has serious, serious chops. And the band does a shot of Jager and we have a beer and I go to the Mens room and as I’m walkin’ out Jason Jones (the one playing in this band) Walks in and I’m like “Dud, your band is killin’ it and he mentions that his guitar player has played for Blake Shelton and that he’s from OH and I remember my old friend Sonny Turcotte at the Red Dog Saloon has been telling me for years about this local guy that played guiter for Tony Rio who moved down to Nashville and got a gig with Blake Shelton and I’m like “Holy Sh*t! That’s the dude,” and he’s not just kinda good he’s flippin’ amazing and (I never do this) but I thought “I’m gonna buy these guys a shot of Jager if that’s what they’re drinkin’” and I walk to the bar and order a round of Jager Bombs and somehow it comes out as I’m talking to the bartender that we’re on this Jager Country Tour and what an awesome opportunity it is and the bartender is like “Dude, you’re Jager rep is standing next to you..” And if I was ever trying to make myself look good this was just dumb luck cause I think out Jager guy caught the last part of my spiel and sees that I’m promoting the product all on my own and he’s like “Sean?” And I’m like “Ray?” And he’s like “dud’e I didn’t recognize you without your cowboy hat on, and I’m like “dude, I didn’t recognize you not being backstage with a laminate on.” And we shot the bull for a while and he’s telling me how we’re doing great on the road and I tell him how we’re having a great time on the road and speaking of tour’s in walks Trace Adkin’s road manager and it’s like it’s a very small world….
Indeed it is.
Check out what Today’s Country Magazine has to say about Sean’s part in the Jagermeister Country Tour:
“Sean Patrick McGraw – The rough and gritty singer took over the stage at 7:30pm and the show was off and running. Sean had just come off the Trace Adkins/Toby Keith tour as the opening act. If you have seen him before, you may want to check him out again. As he has explained that they don’t use a set list and every show is different because they wing it. Not only do they wing it, but they bring it and throw it down. The drums and the driving beat of the bass lead the show off with, “Long Way From Slowing Down.” As the cheers die down, McGraw says, “first things first, my name is Sean Patrick McGraw and this is my friend Jager,” as he toasts the audience and dives back into the music with his hit, “Dollar Ain’t Worth A Dime.” Quickly he adds, “this next is for ya’ll. It’s about hooking up, drinking and smoking weed,” with a little twang we found ourselves doing some “Cowtippin’” with Sean and the band. “I have some cd’s in the back for sale, it that’s not doing it for you I have t-shirts,” laughs Sean. He rounded out the set with “Rockstar” and “My So Called Life.” Once again proving why he deserves to be on tour with acts like Keith, Adkins and Church. McGraw is a hard working, true blooded redneck and makes no apologies for who and what he is.
[Read the full article, see photos from the tour and Sean's set list at TodaysCountryMag.com]
Check in with SPM on day 7 of the Jager Tour on his way back to Nashville, TN!