Chuck McCabe
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Chuck McCabe

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It is my privilege to congratulate you as first prize winner of the 2001 Woody Guthrie songwriting competition. The final judge was blown away by your song, and wants a copy of your CD.
Very impressive. Tom Marshall, Board of Directors, Woody Guthrie Coalition - Tom Marshall


Sweet Reunion marks McCabe's first real flirtation with Celtic musical influences. The thought of a meat-and-potatoes American folk musician like McCabe dealing out Celtic fiddle and Scottish pipes at first seems questionable. But there's no attempt here to be another faux-Celtic musician. McCabe borrows just enough from his Irish-Scottish roots to inspire his own style. The results are an exuberant and very American synthesis.

Two songs draw most obviously from McCabe's Celtic experiment. "The Junk in Murphy's Yard" is a simply perfect song that covers art, life, death and immortality with the imagination and whimsy of a Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein poem. The sparkling percussion that echoes the rain of the song turns into a step-dancing rhythm or a dirge with perfect timing. "Erin the Fair (& Caledonia the Brave)" is a homage to the suffering of the Celtic immigrants who made the McCabe name and so many others into common American surnames. Pipes and whistles call out the defiance and sorrow of all those who left their homes behind to find a better future across the sea.

But no matter where McCabe comes from, he's an American boy, and Sweet Reunion has the rhythm and blues to prove it, and plenty of wild country to prove it in. "Grandpa Played Softball" and "That's What I Like About My Baby" show off McCabe's flair for celebrating the everyday, along with some surprisingly elegant rhyme schemes and outright great guitar work. "Gone to Utah" paints the vibrant colors and wide open spaces of the American Southwest in strokes of steel strings and the lingering touch of suspended chords. "Deliver Us from Evil" and "No Good to Me Now" borrow from the distant but related realms of blues and gospel, one a thunder-heavy prayer on the wickedness of life, the other a joyful, horn-backed celebration of personal growth. "Sweet Reunion" is the perfect ending to an album full of separations and brief alliances, a powerfully hopeful promise of better eternities.

McCabe is one of our great singing poets, and he does it all without any overt pretense at poetry. No straining experimental rhyme schemes, no deconstructed traditions. He just gets out there and says the important things that everyone knows, but few can put it into words. He can put those things into words; better still, he can put them into music. His guitar work is powerful, his vocals are low and pitched right into the spine; but it's that rare gift of expression that makes Sweet Reunion truly satisfy, ears, mind and soul.

by Sarah Meador
Rambles.NET
1 April 2006
- Rambles Reviews


“Sweet Reunion”, de nieuwe CD van Chuck McCabe, is een heerlijk gevarieerde roots singer-songwriterplaat. In het gezelschap van gerenommeerde muzikanten als Norton Buffalo (diverse mondharmonica’s), Myron Dove (diverse bassen), Rob Ickes (dobro), Brian McNeill (concertina), John Lee Sanders (sax en piano), David Brewer (pipes, whistle en bodhran) en Joe Weed (fiddle) bestrijkt de beste man (zang, banjo’s en gitaren) daarop ongelooflijk veel terrein. Hij giet zijn heldere story songs te allen tijde in de vorm die daartoe het meest aangewezen blijkt. In opener “The Minstrel Boy”, “Erin The Fair (And Caledonia The Brave)” en “The Junk In Murphy’s Yard” doet hij zo mooie dingen met het Keltisch erfgoed dat hij van huize uit meekreeg, “Grandpa Played Softball”, “Old Enemy” en “Deliver Us From Evil” vallen onder blues & roots, “Gone To Utah” en “Sweet Reunion” zijn voorbeelden van op de klassieke leest geschoeid Americana singer-songwritermateriaal, “Reunion Hymn” heeft iets gospelesks over zich, “Bonifay Rag” is een old-timey instrumental, “That’s What I Like About My Baby” valt op door z’n jazzy karakter en “No Good To Me Now” is een uitgelaten feestje op zijn New Orleans. Kortom zo ongeveer alle ingrediënten voor een prima CD zijn aanwezig: een mooie, doorleefde stem, knappe liedjes, interessante teksten, uitstekende muzikanten – wij durven ons hier al wel eens met minder tevreden stellen ook. En ons zal je dan ook bepaald niet horen mopperen over McCabe’s “Sweet Reunion”.
- ctrl.alt.country


"McCabe provies he can write a mood into verse with raw honesty." - Sara Meador


McCabe is good at coming up with memorable lines and pearls of wisdom.

- Dirty Linen


Pick Hit of the week (four times!)
Rich Warren The Midnight Special
WFMT Radio - 98.7 FM, Chicago - WFMT Radio - 98.7 FM, Chicago


Your latest cd is really a gem!
Roz and Howard Larman,
Folkscene, KPFK , L.A.
- Roz and Howard Larman


"Chicken Dinners is two hoots and a holler, a collection of road trips and tall tales roped together with blues-bar country and front-porch picking. It's definitely an album worth perking up your ears for."
-- Sarah Meador
- Rambles Reviews


Chuck celebrates his Southern roots and Celtic heritage in this collection of story songs that evoke memories of the old ways, life in the new world, and the values of the characters who lived it. Now funny, now sad, always entertaining and often thought-provoking.

“Sweet Reunion is my favorite, of McCabe’s albums. It is visually the richest, and includes a fine picture of the singer as a youth, amidst the family that helped form him. The Point is clear: we need to go back and look again at what made us what we are - the past has given us things worth keeping.”
Mike Simpson, TrueWind Music - TrueWind Music


Discography

McCabe has been signed to three major labels (Capitol, ABC and GRT) and has released five titles on the independent BlahBlahWoofWoof label.

His songs have been included on compilations that range from Dr. Demento to a Blues collection, and pure folk in-between.

Releases on the independent BlahBlahWoofWoof Label:
2008: Creatures of Habit
2006: Sweet Reunion
2004: Chicken Dinners
2002: Bad Gravity Day
1998: Burgers and Champagne

Photos

Bio

TrueWind Music calls him:
"A master storyteller in the tradition of the great folk troubadours, with an easy style and powerful picking."

A vein of humor and a theme of respect run through McCabe’s distinctly American songwriting. From those clever missives that make us laugh and shake our heads (Don’t be rude to the people who bring your food) to poignant social commentary (Minimum Wager, Deliver us from Evil), McCabe makes us think about how we treat our fellow-man. His delivery demonstrates an understated elegance that is a rare find among performers – especially those who cross the lines between wit and wisdom.

The songs and stories of Chuck McCabe are testimony to a life that began on the road. Born into a Navy family, McCabe’s wanderings began early and continued through years of playing summers on Cape Cod, winters in Vail and every gin mill and Holiday Inn lounge in between. As a 5-string banjo player he was part of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Review. As a guitarist he’s played rock, blues, jazz and bluegrass from the trendy bars on the Sunset Strip to USO shows in the wilds of Southeast Asia.

All the while, McCabe gathered fodder for what has become a significant and important body of work. Since his song of the plight of the working class, Minimum Wager, won the Woody Guthrie Songwriting Competition in 2002 McCabe has joined the ranks of the master story tellers in the tradition of the great folk troubadours. His songwriting also has been honored by the Boston Folk Festival, Sisters (Oregon) Folk Festival, Napa Music and Wine Festival, Founders’ Bluegrass Festival, Sierra Songwriters festival, Wildflower! (Dallas) and the Tucson Folk Festival.

McCabe has recorded for Capital Records, ABC and GRT in both Nashville and Los Angeles, where he was a staff writer for ABC. Through his career, McCabe has made choices that have allowed him to express himself in a unique and non-commercial form that has – despite some narrow misses – steered him clear of both fame and fortune. McCabe now lives, writes, performs and teaches in the San Jose, California area. He is a songwriting clinician and frequent guest songwriting judge for the West Coast Songwriters and the Sisters Folk Festival. In addition to touring and teaching, last year he performed more than 100 shows for the non-profit Young at Heart Project that provides a musical respite for seniors in care facilities.

He is a member of the North American Folk Alliance, the West Coast Songwriters and a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).

He is endorsed by Breedlove Guitars, Deering Banjos and Elixir Strings.

McCabe is fond of relating a quote by John Adams... "I am a soldier, that my son might be a poet."

McCabe's father lived to see that reality. Even though he didn't like it much.