First place winner in the of the 2005 Tucson Folk Festival Songwriting Competition
Finalist in the 2004 Kerrville Folk Festival Newfolk Competition
# Chiming guitars and silvery harmonies sustain themes of longing and triumph on Journey From LaLa., singer/songwriter John McGill's revelatory new CD, but the title cut is rambunctious roadhouse revelry -- downshifting with high octane guitars, whirring Hammond, and sultry chick singers. McGill defines this music as "Existential Blues" as he informs, "I'm a thinker who doesn't think much." The literate self-examination and sterling craftsmanship of his songs clearly indicate otherwise.
# "Ain't it time we had a good laugh
After all it's still a joke, it's who I am
And if platitudes are bone dry
Ain't it enough to know I still could give a damn
I know the angles, and I know the tears
I am entangled, in the indignation in my years"
# Born in Dallas, Texas, John at first resisted the call of the rock, preferring jazz and classical music. In time, a dizzying roster of potent American influences -- Aaron Copeland to Gram Parsons -- infused his musical consciousness. He spent his teen years rocking in bands with his brother, balancing high harmonies and rhythmic Southern rock roots, indelible elements that remain imbedded in his current musical mix as evidenced on his debut artist's release, the instrumental Facing West, as well as Journey From LaLa.
# Between the scrub hills and the strip malls, in that dusty corner of California that larcenous land speculators dubbed "The Inland Empire," John, working with the inland Empire Songwriter's Association and the Southern California Songwriter's Network, has helped nourish a fertile community of songwriters and musicians. A facile guitarist who also plays keyboards and bass in the studio, he is a charter member of an emerging scene that includes Alien Ant Farm, as well as a new cohort, Ralph Torres, with whom he performs in the duo, mostly harmless.
# "It's the wisdom of the ages that the world will end tonite
And the vision of the sages is the word of our demise
In the hope of revelation (or) by malevolent design
It really doesn't matter -- It's 11:59"
# Journey From LaLa. is an accomplished work from a masterful songwriter. In a voice burnished with honesty and experience, John McGill shares incandescent litanies that seem to glow from within; a steady compass pointing to a destination of infinite promise.
# John can be heard at venues throughout southern california performing with musical partner Ralph Torres under the banner mostly harmless.
John McGill - Guitar, Vocals
Ralph Torres - Keyboards
Journey From LaLa
11:59 - (single)
Facing West - Instrumental
Club Reviews - John McGill, Lava Lounge, Hollywood
[+ Show ]
This singer/songwriter is a throwback to the days of sensitive troubadours who sang tales of life, l...This singer/songwriter is a throwback to the days of sensitive troubadours who sang tales of life, love and the human condition. Part folk, part rock and all truth; John McGill is an absorbing artist with a dynamic delivery. Along with his songwriting partner, Ralph Torres, McGill covers everything from subjects as serious as homelessness to silly little ditties like “Entangled,” which he dedicated to the stage cables. Though some of his tunes have a dated sound, most are compelling stories that overcome any musical deficiencies. For the most part, this is a songwriter whose material is smart, compassionate and comforting.
Musicianship: For a duo, these artists create a dynamic soundscape. With flowing rhythms pouring from McGill and rhythmic beats coming from Torres, this pair frequently manages to sound as if they are a full band. Although a few tunes could benefit from additional players to fill out the sound, the arrangements and structures appear to be written perfectly for two –– resulting in fully realized songs. McGill leads most of the vocals, but both artists have expressive voices. Together, however, they really hit paydirt, with harmonies that are golden.
Performance: McGill projected a warm, laid back personality that drew in the patrons at this small lounge. He often had a back-story to go with a song that gave the set a storyteller feel. Humor laced many of his tales, like when he indicated that he suffers from a “bad hair life.” This approach quickly got the crowd into his songs and gave the show an intimate down-home vibe.
Summary: John McGill is a singer/songwriter who makes simple songs seem big. Folk-rock in essence, but epic in scope, McGill’s material is insightful, poignant and funny. Indeed, he hits major emotions with such a skilled touch that his listeners are put at ease and become part of his world.
Trax - John McGill - Journey From Lala
[+ Show ]
Thirteen tracks of mostly midtempo pop from thoughtful Inland Empire scribe McGill, who sidesteps t...Thirteen tracks of mostly midtempo pop from thoughtful Inland Empire scribe
McGill, who sidesteps the musical wimpiness plaguing many sincere
singer-songwriter projects with bright guitar-bass-keyboard arrangements
and the occasional shimmer of pedal steel and slide guitar complementing
his smooth, yearning vocals. The faux-bluesy title tune and songs like
"Entangled" and the apocalypse-pondering "11:59" indicate he's got more on
his mind than the standard romantic concerns.