-Yellow Brick Man CD Release in November!
-Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby includes Colin's track "Surprise Me," in his compilation of all-time favorite CD Baby artists. Released with Sivers' book "Anything You Want."
Winter/Spring '11 News:
-Colin's new iPad/iPhone Singing Book app reaches #2 most downloaded on MeeGenius.com
-Currently mastering new album "Yellow Brick Man," at The Vault in NYC
-Scored the trailer for Anchorage International Film Fest
Spring '10 News:
-Ireland, UK tour
Fall/Winter '09 News:
-chosen to receive The Speranza Foundation's Lincoln City Fellowship
to record an album
Summer '09 News:
-Appearing in Rocky Mountain Folk Festival Songwriter Showcase in August
Winter/Spring '09 News:
-First Prize Winner of Wildflower Festival Performing Songwriter Contest
-Kerrville 2009 New Folk Finalist
-First Place Winner of Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival 2009 Competition
-2009 Telluride Troubadour Finalist
-Honor Award winner in the 10th Annual Great American Song Contest
Fall '08 News:
-Grand Prize Winner of Sonicbids Listening Room International Songwriters Retreats Competition
-Songwriter Universe Magazine Best Song of the Month Finalist
-Signed a licensing deal with Hook Line and Sync Agency in Australia
-Currently (or soon to) have songs in rotation on the following radio programs: Indie 104-iRadio LA, mvyradio, and AF(Acoustic Fuel) Radio
Summer '08 News:
-Performed and was interviewed by John Schaefer on NPR's Soundcheck. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93047831)
Spring '08 News:
-New review from muzicreviews.com, read it in "press" section.
-Three showcase performances coming up in New York and New Jersey. Check out "calendar" section.
-New 6 song EP coming out in May. The CD is a collaboration with North Carolina songwriter Jason Harod, New York songwriter Reid Maclean, and it is being commissioned by Kathy Reber.
Winter '08 News:
-Performing at the CD Baby showcase at Folk Alliance in Memphis Tennessee in February.
-Selected as a runner up for the Muzik Reviews "Indie Spotlight Competition."
-Colin pulled out huge arsenal of instruments (5 to be exact) to back singer/songwriter Reid Maclean at a completely packed show at The Living Room in New York City on February 1st.
Fall '07 News:
-Selected to perform at the prestigious New York Songwriter's Circle, hailed by Billboard Magazine as "One of the best showcases for original music in New York City." Norah Jones, Richard Julian and Jessie Harris have all performed at this showcase.
-Selected to perform in the New Jersey Songwriters in the Round at Maxwell's in Hoboken NJ.
-"Window Seat" is a Top Seller in the Alternative Folk Category on CDBaby.
-"Ruthy" has been included on Oasis Disc Manufacturing's lastest Acoustic Music Radio Sampler. "Ruthy" is placed #3 in an album of 23 songs by acoustic musicians.
Check out the video section to see excerpts from the 10/22 Jimmy's #43 show with the full band.
About Colin McGrath:
2009 Wildflower! Songwriter Competition Grand Prize Winner
2009 Belfast Nashville Songwriter Festival Competition Winner
2008 International Listening Room Retreats Competition Grand Prize Winner
2009 Telluride Troubadour Finalist
2009 Kerrville New Folk Finalist
NPR Music calls Colin McGrath an "Itinerant Folk Orchestrator." Though based in New York City for the last eight years, he has been a musical explorer since he started making music. Fascinated by telling stories with lyrics and finding the right musical language to support them, his musical wanderings have led him to many countries, through many styles of music, to many different life experiences.
He began performing original songs when he was 18 while busking across Europe. He studied music at Oberlin College in Ohio, but the Irish, bluegrass, funk and improv bands he played with fueled his creativity as much or more than the classical music that he studied. After college, at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, McGrath became inspired by a straightforward and honest style of modern folk. He released his first, self-titled folk album while living in San Francisco.
Also while living in San Francisco, Colin started writing music for theater. Drawn by the challenge of creating music to accompany stories, he held the baton for three years as musical director of the Killing My Lobster Orchestra, a position also held by Ara Anderson (Tin Hat Trio, Tom Waits, Jolie Holand). Colin released Allegro Con Chutzpah, an album of quirky and comical instrumentals influenced by Latin, Klezmer and classical music. In New York, Colin has also composed and/or performed with Ralph Lee and the Mettawee River Theater Co., Cirque Boom, and The Actors Company Theater. He has received commissions to write chamber pieces for The Central Park Brass, The New York Philharmonic TA Ensemble, and The Bloomingdale School of Music.
He has also performed and composed with Silkweed, a chamber folk ensemble. One of their tracks was licensed to a Converse Commercial (see youtube channel), and their music has been used to underscore other stage and screen productions. McGrath also composed the music for a Bill Moyers documentary on Jack Abramoff.
Releasing Window Seat in 2007 was for Colin the culmination of many of the experiences of the previous decade. Meticulously orchestrated and produced by Colin and his long-time collaborator William Berlind (heard recently on Burning Spears' Grammy-winning “Jah Lives”), Window Seat draws from a uniquely American chamber-folk sound (think Edgar Meyer, Marc O'Connor, Yo-Yo Ma), with textured string parts, prepared and toy piano, re-amped Dobro and banjo. All these sounds serve as the backdrop for the stories, observations, musings and dreams of a musical wanderer.
CD Baby has selected Window Seat as an Editor’s Pick, noting that "[McGrath] has a way of crafting songs that pull you in one level at a time (rather than hitting you over the head with the beginning of a song), and creates his emotional build with a most tender and yet forthright touch."
Colin has recently been featured on WNYC's Soundcheck with John Schaefer. In 2009 he won a hand-made Gallagher GC-70 guitar (valued at $4,000) for his performance at The Wildflower! Songwriting Competition. He was the 2008 Grand Prize Winner of The Listening Room Retreat Competition in Ben Lomand, CA, and the 2009 Winner of The Belfast Nashville Song-writing Festival Competition in Belfast, Ireland. He has been back to Ireland and UK since winning the competion to tour and to play The Belfast Nashville Festival again. He currently performs and tours solo, with his own band, or in a trio with Jason Harrod and Reid Maclean. The trio opened up for Martin Sexton in February 2010, and is featured prominently on McGrath’s soon to be released album.
Solo or with a band.
Here is the band:
Colin McGrath-guitar, vocals
Colin McGrath, 1996
Allegro Con Chutzpah, 2001
Window Seat, 2007
Window Seat is currently in regular rotation on the following stations:
88.1 FM WCWP, Long Island, Web Radio WCWP
WQFS, North Carolina
WMPG, Greater Portland Community Radio
"Itinerant Folk Orchestrator"
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WNYC, July 30, 2008 - Songwriter Colin McGrath discovered his voice while busking his way through Eu...WNYC, July 30, 2008 - Songwriter Colin McGrath discovered his voice while busking his way through Europe as a teenager. Though he studied classical music in college, McGrath was taken in by Irish music and bluegrass, and then fell in love with folk at a festival in Texas. His folk songs are steeped in storytelling, with characters and images drawn from old Americana.
But his new, self-released album Window Seat brings him back to his native city of New York. Here, McGrath performs with his band and tells host John Schaefer about the travels which inspire his music — including a moment during a recent trip to Ecuador which launched the song "Anochece."
"It all came out of a conversation I was having with a guy I met there," McGrath says. "He said, 'Cuando anochece, se dice buenas noches.' Which means, 'When night falls, we say goodnight, or good evening.' And all of the things that I was experiencing in Ecuador — all these little images that I saw — really, definitely found their way into that song."
Now living again in New York, McGrath says it's sometimes challenging to pull heartstrings in a city which prides itself on being hardboiled.
"It's kind of a challenge to stay present and try to stay warm here in the city," he says. "I mean, not just temperature-wise, but [to] try to stay in a state of mind where you're open to experiences, because there is so much. You know, it's hard to make it here, it's hard to live here, and you just have to have your communities of the people you enjoy and keep making music."
Apart from his colleagues in folk, McGrath has several communities he can draw on. Owing to his classical background, he works as a teaching artist with the New York Philharmonic, where he leads workshops in public schools and occasionally composes instrumental music for touring performances. He based one piece he wrote on a trip to Turkey.
"I was traveling around Turkey, and I was really influenced by the driving rhythms and strange time signatures," McGrath says. "And all that music got into my head. And then as I came home, I sort of filtered that through my own more American folk-music-based compositional style. And then that's what popped out."
As a singer-songwriter, McGrath says he aims to channel the world he sees around him — hence the title, Window Seat. He performs a song called "Ruthie," inspired by a imagined conversation with one of his troubled middle-school students.
CD Baby Editor's Pick
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"The first time you pop in a disc with childlike anticipation, a little bit on the edge of your seat..."The first time you pop in a disc with childlike anticipation, a little bit on the edge of your seat, there’s either an immediacy to the music that grabs you or it goes in one ear and out the other. Colin McGrath fits into the former category: he has a way of crafting songs that pull you in one level at a time (rather than hitting you over the head with the beginning of a song), and crafts his emotional build with a most tender and yet forthright touch. And similarly, despite the number of times a music junkie can pop in a new album, be engaged with the instrumental parts only to be disappointed with the mismatched vocals, living with an album like Colin’s, where the first entrance of his voice hits such a perfect tone of conceptual resonance, is a reminder of how rare it actually is to find such perfect compatibility between singer and songwriter, whether both are the same person or not. So while his listeners are first engaged by his vocal quality, drawing from bits of Greg Brown to Paul Simon, Jackson Browne to Nick Drake, the wonder and integrity doesn’t end there. McGrath’s knack for instrumentation makes one ponder his background; from violin harmonics to charango to prepared and toy piano, his musical sense of space is reminiscent of an orchestrator. McGrath’s use of color and tessitura suggests thoughtful consideration of instrumentation, beyond what the majority of songwriters are willing to ponder: that of instrumental conversation, sonic space, and the ability to change a textural color with an effect that, while it isn’t audible, shifts the tone without question. At the same time, McGrath has a solid singer/songwriter approach and result, These are solid songs, often playful and light as well as intellectual and profound. Window Seat more than earns its esteemed place as an editor’s pick for male folk."
author: Tamara Turner, CD Baby
Review by Tim Readman, Writer and Critic, Penguin Eggs
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"Thank goodness there are people out there like Colin McGrath who avoid the pitfalls of self importa..."Thank goodness there are people out there like Colin McGrath who avoid the pitfalls of self importance and cliché that give singer songwriters a bad name. This is a well balanced collection that celebrates the extraordinary beauty of ordinary living. McGrath knows when it is time to help you stop and smell the roses and when to make you wake up and smell the coffee. The arrangements are simple and support the lyrics well throughout. His style is somewhat reminiscent of a younger Paul Simon (before he became a cultural pirate). His delivery is relaxed and gentle without ever being weak. The CD has great atmosphere that beckons the listener to come in and take a load off. Once you are into it you won’t be in any hurry to leave. There’s more at www.colinmcgrath.com."
Review from Pop Music Heaven
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"It was a reference to “Belle,” the brilliant Damien Rice-like CD from singer-songwriter Paul Tierna..."It was a reference to “Belle,” the brilliant Damien Rice-like CD from singer-songwriter Paul Tiernan, which put us on the trail to the album “Window Seat” by New Yorker Colin McGrath. If “Window Seat” were only half as beautiful as “Belle,” it would already be worthwhile, we thought, but after having played the album threadbare during the last months, we can only conclude that it is more beautiful, also more varied and despite the similarities, still totally different.
Window Seat comes through with a clear, mild singer-songwriterpop which is less based on melancholy than on sophisticated ‘folky’ songs, which are so perfectly produced by William Berlind that they are always evocative and tasteful. On CD Baby this CD is recommended for lovers of James Taylor, Jackson Brown and Paul Simon, but we have not heard these gentlemen as good as Colin McGrath since the seventies and while McGrath’s style shows a few similarities, we hear foremost his most engaging, but very own face."
Eric van Domburg Scipio
Colin McGrath Made My Day
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Colin McGrath was exactly what I needed to get through the day. With his up beat tempos, spunky lyri...Colin McGrath was exactly what I needed to get through the day. With his up beat tempos, spunky lyrics yet a serene smooth tone in his voice, his is just the ticket for all. I stumbled across “Grin Like That” which would make anyone who listens to it want to smile like the man in the song.
McGrath has been around music all of his life, incorporating all that he hears, from Michael Jackson to the rapper handing out CDs on the subway, into his music. He is currently in the process of creating a new album that has yet to be titled. Once I know when this work of art will be released into the great unknown, you will be the first to know. In the meantime, check out his Facebook band page and Youtube channel to get the inside scoop and have a listen!
Feature in muzicreviews.com
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Colin McGrath’s Window Seat is a tender, introspective collection of beautifully written folk, acous...Colin McGrath’s Window Seat is a tender, introspective collection of beautifully written folk, acoustic and bluegrass songs. Through a perfect blend of piano,
acoustic guitar, strings and vocal harmonies, McGrath creates intricately textured songs that are honest and contemplative. With a laid back and tender
voice, McGrath sings his poetic and meditative lyrics in an authentic folk/acoustic singer/songwriter style—very similar to Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams.
Colin McGrath studied classical music at Oberlin College in Ohio, but was most influenced by the Irish, bluegrass, funk and improv bands that he played with
throughout his travels in the United States and Europe. In addition to his solo career, he plays with his bluegrass band Speedtrack. Most recently he has
received commissions to write chamber pieces for The Central Park Brass, The New York Philharmonic TA Ensemble and The Bloomingdale School of Music.
Produced by William Berlind, Window Seat starts off with “Ruthy,” a song with a Bob Dylan/Jeff Tweedy feel made up of an acoustic guitar, poetic lyrics
and a country fiddle. Other songs that keep in tune with this authentic folk/bluegrass appeal are “Squirrels,” “Talk to Me,” and “Home.” “Home” is one
example of McGrath’s strong ability to write truly brilliant bridges. He starts off with a simple emotion and builds it up through the song; the climax comes
in the bridge and this emotion is resolved through the end of the song. Another theme that runs throughout the album is that while many of these songs
have a “feel-good” acoustic sound, there is an underlying sense of sadness and contemplation that gives this album its deep-layered appeal. One of the
songs that best exemplifies this dual-nature is “Anochece.” “Anochece,” which in Spanish means, “it grows dark” is a dreamy, delicate song with birds chirping
in the background, powerful strings and guitar, and a heartbreaking fiddle solo. This is a song that has a very pretty acoustic sound, but deeper down has
a dark and sad layer.
While the majority of McGrath’s songs are routed in folk and bluegrass, some diverge a bit from this sound, such as “Almost Perfect.” This song brings in a
beautiful piano and strings section to create one of the most well-written and textured songs on the album. “Breathe” is also one of the album’s best songs
with a very emotional and dreamy quality brought forth by acoustic guitar, piano and strings. “Old Familiar” is an upbeat song with great female vocal
harmonies and a rhythm and blues feel on the piano and guitar.
The last song on the album, “Fool For A Pretty Thing” has a very different feel than the rest of the album. With lounge piano and jazz percussion as the
dominant instruments, the music becomes a slow-tempo, lounge/cool jazz song. While some may find this off-putting, I think that it worked, mainly due to
the fact that it shows McGrath’s brilliant song-writing ability, regardless of genre. All in all this was a very well- written, introspective album by an
extremely promising singer/songwriter.
Review/Feature, Berkeley Press
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"Generally, I’m into pop, rock and rap, but every so often I cotton to a kinder, gentler album that ..."Generally, I’m into pop, rock and rap, but every so often I cotton to a kinder, gentler album that crosses my desk.
Colin McGrath’s “Window Seat” is such a record, with folky ditties about a favorite childhood book, old friends, and a simpler time. It’s mostly just Colin telling nice stories, but he’s accompanied at times by Aaron Thurston (The French Kicks), Rob Moose (Sufjan Stevens, Antony and the Johnsons), and many others. It’s not the kind of record you’d expect from a native New Yorker."
Ekko, Berkeley Press
A Little Bit Of Everything Never Sounded So Good
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"'He must be doing something right to get himself a grin like that," sings Colin McGrath on Window S..."'He must be doing something right to get himself a grin like that," sings Colin McGrath on Window Seat. He's doing a lot of things right. If you love singer/songwriters like I do, the roadblock you continually run up against is that most are too self-obsessed for their songs to transcend into anything besides diary rock. It's rare to find someone who can write about their personal experiences and still touch someone else's heart...but McGrath excels at this with quiet, understated confidence. He knows exactly what he's doing, and you're just happy to be along for the ride. His hooks are subtly infectious - I dare you not to be humming "Old Familiar" or "Fool for a Pretty Thing" under your breath for days. His lyrics and melodies blend seamlessly, another rare thing among those who seem to be convinced that if you can write a good lyric, you can write a good song. Another chronic problem of the run-of-the-mill songwriter is to write a good song, but fail to put together a cohesive and interesting album. Here again, McGrath succeeds, and makes it sound easy. Window Seat has delicate, precise instrumentation - a harmonica or violin solo will often last only five or six notes, adding a soft flourish to a phrase without ever becoming overbearing. The songs fit together beautifully, from the upbeat folksiness of "Ruthy" to the Topanga-Canyon airiness of "Anochece" to the more urban jazziness of "Fool for a Pretty Thing" (which, incidentally, is just the sort of song Sam Cooke or Billie Holiday would've killed to cover). Window Seat sings me echoes of luminaries like Paul Simon and Amos Lee, but manages to sound completely different at the same time. The best songwriters are those who can turn a brief and fleeting moment into something meaningful...and McGrath does this naturally, easily, effortlessly. Grab hold of this album as quickly as possible, and let it do the same thing to you. I promise it will."
Demo Tape o' the Week, San Francisco Bay Guardian
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"Colin McGrath has an impressive artistic resume: he’s the musical director for San Francisco comedy..."Colin McGrath has an impressive artistic resume: he’s the musical director for San Francisco comedy troupe Killing My Lobster, and he wrote and arranged the music for Bindlestiff’s 1998 play On the Farm. His solo CD isn’t exactly comedy, or even melodramatically theatrical- consisting mostly of his quiet voice and an acoustic guitar, peppered with cello and harmonies by Jamie Byrd, it’s pure, storytelling folk music. “Day to Day” registers as one of the sweetest songs in recent memory (the narrator asks the woman he’s loved since he was 13 to live with him). “The Land of Milk and Money” profiles a destitute family that eats cat food. “Lucky You” goes about it’s business like a good Jackson Browne/Cardinal/America tune should and then flips over midsong to become an Irish jam with flute and fiddle. It’s Byrd’s backing vocals that make the songs soar, though, her clarion soprano trembling as McGrath tells compelling tales of love and woe."
Here is a typical set list:
2. Grin Like That
3. Almost Perfect
4. Independence Day
5. Fool For a Pretty Thing
6. I Only Dream of You
7. Playing With the Band
9. How Was Your Day?
10. Yellow Brick Man
11. Just Trying to Get By
12. Lose My Mind
13. Old Familiar
It will generally last about an hour. Can play up to 2 sets worth of music.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.