Greg Mahan
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Greg Mahan

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Band Folk Acoustic

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"Shades Of Greg by Mike Breen"

Fresh from stealing the show at last week's psychodots tribute, Greg Mahan is set to release one of the best local releases so far this year. This Friday he will unleash the self-titled beast with a show at the Southgate House with special guests The Graveblankets and fellow 'dots-tribute-show-stealer Brian Lovely. The album is a folksy masterwork, highlighted by Mahan's keen songwriting ability and superb instrumentation, provided by an array of local music greats from all genres, including Chris Arduser, Eugene Goss, Ricky Nye and Clyde Brown. You'll be hard-pressed to find a local album this full of depth, as Mahan and co-producer Brian Lovely craft the tracks with a graceful hand, creating lilting textures with flute and strings. It's easiest to label Mahan's acoustic sound as "Americana" (a hearty Dylan influence is evident), but there's so much going on within the songs (and from track to track) it would be a misdeed to "label" it anything but great. Mahan's debut is a subtly dazzling gem, in line with contemporary works by Ron Sexsmith, Steve Earle and David Wilcox. There's no reason why a national label wouldn't pick up on a release as refined and radiant as this.
- Cincinnati CityBeat


"Spill It: A Music Blog: Thursday MPMF"

The ultimate conclusion I came to, by the end of the night, was that Greg Mahan is one of (if not the) best guitarists in Cincinnati. Wow. I checked his set out at Harry’s (uh, the Pizza Bar). Wow. Wow. Wow. - Daniele Pfarr - Cincinnati CityBeat


"Greg Mahan - I Row My Boat, Gotta Get It Afloat, I'm the Man With the Plan . . ."

No, Greg Mahan's fourteen word album title doesn't even approach the longest ever. I believe that honor still belongs to Fiona Apple's ninety word poem-as-title disc from a few years back. With my tendency towards the verbose I thought chances were good that Mr. Mahan's music would connect with me, even before I listened the first time. That was three, maybe even four months ago. I've listened to the disc several times every week since and can report that I was right. It did connect. I enjoyed the music from the first time I played it. That's easy. Explaining why is another story. Since I assume none of you are psychic, I'll try.

Mahan is the latest in a string of Cincinnati musicians I've reviewed over the last year for Rockzillaworld. Comparing the names in credits and band histories from Pike 27, Len's Lounge, Messerly & Ewing, and Mahan's album gives the impression that Cincinnati is a tight-knit, incestuous musical community. Mahan and his brother Brian played on Messerly & Ewing's The Last Twelve Hours. Brian Ewing and Mark Messerly both put in appearances on I Row My Boat, Brian Lovely (yes, lots of Brians in Cincinnati) co-produced this disc and also shows up on Messerly & Ewing's disc. Pike 27's Dave Purcell used to be a member of Len's Lounge; Mark Messerly recently joined Pike 27. You get the idea. With so many of the same musicians, some similarity between all of these acts might be expected, and close listening reveals some, but each act is dominated by one or two people with the others acting in the role of sidemen. Pike 27 rocks the hardest because Dave Purcell likes to rock. Len's Lounge's Jeff Roberson would seem to be a laid-back guy of few words. And then there's Greg Mahan.

Like Purcell, Mahan can rock, but where Purcell prefers the straight-ahead, blues-based rock of the Stones, Mahan experiments with unexpected sounds and textures, not unlike what the Beatles did thirty-some years ago. No sitar, but keyboards, accordion, flute, sax, and trumpet. Mandolin, violin, and banjo too. Pick any popular musical style from the last thirty or forty years. Memphis R&B. Power Pop. Psychedelia. New Wave. Folk. Greg Mahan has heard them all and at some point incorporates each of these influences on I Row My Boat, even a glimmer of The Tijuana Brass in the horns and percussion on "All Is Grace." The flute and strings-filled "Song For Brenda" is almost a New Age love song.

Lyrically Mahan's influences are more limited, or at least less apparent, with one obvious exception. Starting with the opening track, "Well I Know I Figured It Out," there are strong hints that Mahan studied Dylan's in his personal songwriters school. The lyrics are evocative, yet the meaning not always obvious.

It came to me yesterday night
Struck by a bolt
So may volts
I tell you it was mighty bright
That's one good way to see the light

And I know I figured it out
I've got no money
But I do without
I know I figured it out
You know I figured it out

After back rent
And favors lent
I never ask myself where it might have went
Just build a fire
Then I pitch my tent

"New Noah" makes liberal use of religious imagery yet isn't overtly religious. The opening lyrics, "I had a dream, it was such a fright," allow the possibility of interpreting some lyrics as metaphor ("New York City is under the sea/Wall Street and the Village looking up at me/saying he was neither wrong nor crazy") while other lyrics can be taken literally.

Here I am at the top of the world
Two bottles of wine
And two pretty girls
And my favorite double album "Blonde on Blonde"

Like Dylan, Mahan has surrounded himself with an excellent group of musicians and won't be boxed into the parameters of a single musical style. Unlike Dylan, the vocals are comprehensible. At times his lyrics may leave you as confused, hearing the words but working hard to understand their meaning. Other songs, like the folk-rockish "American Farmers Song," are more overt in their meaning.

I moved to the left and I moved to the right
And then they tell me that everything's fine
They tell me that everything's fine

Can't work my hands and I can't work the land
See it everyday, I don't understand
See it everyday, I don't understand

If you believe music should be mindless noise in the background, then buy a white noise generator. Everyone else might consider Greg Mahan's I Row My Boat Gotta, Get It Afloat, I'm the Man With the Plan . . .
- Rockzilla.net - by Al Kunz


"Greg Mahan - I Row My Boat, Gotta Get It Afloat, I'm the Man With the Plan . . ."

No, Greg Mahan's fourteen word album title doesn't even approach the longest ever. I believe that honor still belongs to Fiona Apple's ninety word poem-as-title disc from a few years back. With my tendency towards the verbose I thought chances were good that Mr. Mahan's music would connect with me, even before I listened the first time. That was three, maybe even four months ago. I've listened to the disc several times every week since and can report that I was right. It did connect. I enjoyed the music from the first time I played it. That's easy. Explaining why is another story. Since I assume none of you are psychic, I'll try.

Mahan is the latest in a string of Cincinnati musicians I've reviewed over the last year for Rockzillaworld. Comparing the names in credits and band histories from Pike 27, Len's Lounge, Messerly & Ewing, and Mahan's album gives the impression that Cincinnati is a tight-knit, incestuous musical community. Mahan and his brother Brian played on Messerly & Ewing's The Last Twelve Hours. Brian Ewing and Mark Messerly both put in appearances on I Row My Boat, Brian Lovely (yes, lots of Brians in Cincinnati) co-produced this disc and also shows up on Messerly & Ewing's disc. Pike 27's Dave Purcell used to be a member of Len's Lounge; Mark Messerly recently joined Pike 27. You get the idea. With so many of the same musicians, some similarity between all of these acts might be expected, and close listening reveals some, but each act is dominated by one or two people with the others acting in the role of sidemen. Pike 27 rocks the hardest because Dave Purcell likes to rock. Len's Lounge's Jeff Roberson would seem to be a laid-back guy of few words. And then there's Greg Mahan.

Like Purcell, Mahan can rock, but where Purcell prefers the straight-ahead, blues-based rock of the Stones, Mahan experiments with unexpected sounds and textures, not unlike what the Beatles did thirty-some years ago. No sitar, but keyboards, accordion, flute, sax, and trumpet. Mandolin, violin, and banjo too. Pick any popular musical style from the last thirty or forty years. Memphis R&B. Power Pop. Psychedelia. New Wave. Folk. Greg Mahan has heard them all and at some point incorporates each of these influences on I Row My Boat, even a glimmer of The Tijuana Brass in the horns and percussion on "All Is Grace." The flute and strings-filled "Song For Brenda" is almost a New Age love song.

Lyrically Mahan's influences are more limited, or at least less apparent, with one obvious exception. Starting with the opening track, "Well I Know I Figured It Out," there are strong hints that Mahan studied Dylan's in his personal songwriters school. The lyrics are evocative, yet the meaning not always obvious.

It came to me yesterday night
Struck by a bolt
So may volts
I tell you it was mighty bright
That's one good way to see the light

And I know I figured it out
I've got no money
But I do without
I know I figured it out
You know I figured it out

After back rent
And favors lent
I never ask myself where it might have went
Just build a fire
Then I pitch my tent

"New Noah" makes liberal use of religious imagery yet isn't overtly religious. The opening lyrics, "I had a dream, it was such a fright," allow the possibility of interpreting some lyrics as metaphor ("New York City is under the sea/Wall Street and the Village looking up at me/saying he was neither wrong nor crazy") while other lyrics can be taken literally.

Here I am at the top of the world
Two bottles of wine
And two pretty girls
And my favorite double album "Blonde on Blonde"

Like Dylan, Mahan has surrounded himself with an excellent group of musicians and won't be boxed into the parameters of a single musical style. Unlike Dylan, the vocals are comprehensible. At times his lyrics may leave you as confused, hearing the words but working hard to understand their meaning. Other songs, like the folk-rockish "American Farmers Song," are more overt in their meaning.

I moved to the left and I moved to the right
And then they tell me that everything's fine
They tell me that everything's fine

Can't work my hands and I can't work the land
See it everyday, I don't understand
See it everyday, I don't understand

If you believe music should be mindless noise in the background, then buy a white noise generator. Everyone else might consider Greg Mahan's I Row My Boat Gotta, Get It Afloat, I'm the Man With the Plan . . .
- Rockzilla.net - by Al Kunz


"Greg Mahan – Album – “I Row My Boat…”"

Featuring one of the longest album titles ever (or that we’ve come across at least - the full title is “I Row My Boat… Gotta Get it Afloat…  I’m the Man with the Plan”), the second album from the guy who was nominated for three Cincinnati Entertainment Awards is nothing if not different.  With a distinctive sound and hints of Steve Earle and John Hiatt’s voice, along with some accomplished and excellently produced string picking, “I Row My Boat…” sounds much more mature than its years, but that’s not a bad thing. The arrangements of tracks like “Blue Ocean” and “New Noah” are innovative without being over-experimental, still retaining the acoustic essence of each track – indeed sometimes he hits the mark so well (take the Mark Knopfler-eqsue “Burn Down Sal’s” for instance) that you can tell Mahan’s talents aren’t limited to performing.  He’s an A Class singer-songwriter to boot,  with lyrics that are both biting and bracing in equal parts.  “I Row My Boat” is evidence enough to suggest Mahan will be around for some time. MW - AmericanaUK.com


"Greg Mahan – Album – “I Row My Boat…”"

Featuring one of the longest album titles ever (or that we’ve come across at least - the full title is “I Row My Boat… Gotta Get it Afloat…  I’m the Man with the Plan”), the second album from the guy who was nominated for three Cincinnati Entertainment Awards is nothing if not different.  With a distinctive sound and hints of Steve Earle and John Hiatt’s voice, along with some accomplished and excellently produced string picking, “I Row My Boat…” sounds much more mature than its years, but that’s not a bad thing. The arrangements of tracks like “Blue Ocean” and “New Noah” are innovative without being over-experimental, still retaining the acoustic essence of each track – indeed sometimes he hits the mark so well (take the Mark Knopfler-eqsue “Burn Down Sal’s” for instance) that you can tell Mahan’s talents aren’t limited to performing.  He’s an A Class singer-songwriter to boot,  with lyrics that are both biting and bracing in equal parts.  “I Row My Boat” is evidence enough to suggest Mahan will be around for some time. MW - AmericanaUK.com


"Mahan floats fine CD - by Larry Nager"

Singer/Songwriter Greg Mahan, has released one of the year’s best local discs, a dynamically varied set of 12 original songs.
Much of the credit goes to producer Brian Lovely, who has assembled an “A” list of local musicians. Drummers include Chris Arduser, Chris Estes and Teddy Wilburn. Ricky Nye contributes keyboards and accordion. Gary Winters plays trumpet, Dwayne Irvin is on sax and Mr. Mahan’s brother, Brian, also formerly of banjo, plays bass. Mr. Lovely plays just about everything else, including guitar, harmonica, bass, drums, keyboards and banjo.
The songs include the folky “Blue Ocean,” with its insistent finger-picked guitar; the mournful, countrified “American Farming Song”; and the lurching, bluesy pop of “Indestructible.”
The very catchy folk-rocker, “Burn Down Sal’s,” appeared in an earlier form on the Jammin’ on Main 1999 CD. “Once a Criminal” is a gently musing ballad about how “it takes time to steal what’s important.”
As a songwriter, Mr. Mahan (whose high, slightly raspy voice is occasionally reminiscent of Michael Stipe) has borrowed from some of the best. There are flashes of Dylan and the Beatles, classical touches and various rock and pop styles in these songs of love (“Song for Brenda”), revenge (“Burn Down Sal’s) and disasters of biblical proportion (“The New Noah”). Don’t miss it. - Cincinnati Enquirer


"Mahan floats fine CD - by Larry Nager"

Singer/Songwriter Greg Mahan, has released one of the year’s best local discs, a dynamically varied set of 12 original songs.
Much of the credit goes to producer Brian Lovely, who has assembled an “A” list of local musicians. Drummers include Chris Arduser, Chris Estes and Teddy Wilburn. Ricky Nye contributes keyboards and accordion. Gary Winters plays trumpet, Dwayne Irvin is on sax and Mr. Mahan’s brother, Brian, also formerly of banjo, plays bass. Mr. Lovely plays just about everything else, including guitar, harmonica, bass, drums, keyboards and banjo.
The songs include the folky “Blue Ocean,” with its insistent finger-picked guitar; the mournful, countrified “American Farming Song”; and the lurching, bluesy pop of “Indestructible.”
The very catchy folk-rocker, “Burn Down Sal’s,” appeared in an earlier form on the Jammin’ on Main 1999 CD. “Once a Criminal” is a gently musing ballad about how “it takes time to steal what’s important.”
As a songwriter, Mr. Mahan (whose high, slightly raspy voice is occasionally reminiscent of Michael Stipe) has borrowed from some of the best. There are flashes of Dylan and the Beatles, classical touches and various rock and pop styles in these songs of love (“Song for Brenda”), revenge (“Burn Down Sal’s) and disasters of biblical proportion (“The New Noah”). Don’t miss it. - Cincinnati Enquirer


"Daydreaming with Greg Mahan by Mike Breen"

Superb singer/songwriter Greg Mahan celebrates the release of his first CD since 2000 this weekend with two shows. Mahan promotes his new Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream Friday at the Southgate House Parlour (opening acts: Messerly and Ewing and Lines and Spaces). Saturday he performs at Rohs Street Café, supported by Uncle Smokin' Joe and the Solid Pack and Jack Redell.
Mahan's bread-and-butter is elegant, graceful and often poetic Americana music, with songs built around his sturdy acoustic playing and imagery-laden lyrics. On Daydream, there are some of Mahan's best ever songs in that style (the minimal title track and the slow-burner "Fireflies"), but the rest of the album shows that he is not limited to any one specific "genre" when writing. Calypso rhythms imbue "Mento" with a sassy strut, sounding like a weird mesh of Graceland-era Paul Simon and neo-Eastern European revivalists like DeVotchKa, while "Wink 'n' a Smile" closes the album on a playful, sunny Pop note. Producer Brian Lovely helps achieve a crisp sound that allows the songs to breathe and the musicians that flesh out the arrangements (with everything from strings to drums) perform flawlessly.

Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream sounds as good as any "Roots" album you'll hear this year, local or otherwise. Here's a prediction for ya -- local NPR affiliate WNKU is going to play the shit out of this one. Other programmers would be smart to follow suit. - Cincinnati CityBeat


"Daydreaming with Greg Mahan by Mike Breen"

Superb singer/songwriter Greg Mahan celebrates the release of his first CD since 2000 this weekend with two shows. Mahan promotes his new Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream Friday at the Southgate House Parlour (opening acts: Messerly and Ewing and Lines and Spaces). Saturday he performs at Rohs Street Café, supported by Uncle Smokin' Joe and the Solid Pack and Jack Redell.
Mahan's bread-and-butter is elegant, graceful and often poetic Americana music, with songs built around his sturdy acoustic playing and imagery-laden lyrics. On Daydream, there are some of Mahan's best ever songs in that style (the minimal title track and the slow-burner "Fireflies"), but the rest of the album shows that he is not limited to any one specific "genre" when writing. Calypso rhythms imbue "Mento" with a sassy strut, sounding like a weird mesh of Graceland-era Paul Simon and neo-Eastern European revivalists like DeVotchKa, while "Wink 'n' a Smile" closes the album on a playful, sunny Pop note. Producer Brian Lovely helps achieve a crisp sound that allows the songs to breathe and the musicians that flesh out the arrangements (with everything from strings to drums) perform flawlessly.

Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream sounds as good as any "Roots" album you'll hear this year, local or otherwise. Here's a prediction for ya -- local NPR affiliate WNKU is going to play the shit out of this one. Other programmers would be smart to follow suit. - Cincinnati CityBeat


Discography

Greg Mahan - Greg Mahan (2000, Highway 11 Records)
Song "Blue Ocean" received regular airplay on Cincinnati's WNKU, WVXU, WOXY, & WAIF.
Song "Burn Down Sal's" featured on the 1999 Pepsi Jammin’ on Main CD
Song "Burn Down Sal's" featured on the 2002 MidPoint Music Fest CD
Song "Well I Know I've Figured It Out" featured on the 2003 City Nights CD
Song "Hall Of Fame" featured on the 2006 Cincinnati Clutch Hits CD, in support of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund.
Greg Mahan - Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream (2008, Highway 11 Records
Multiple songs from "Thirty-Five-Cent Daydream" receiving airplay from WNKU (Kentucky) and WHFR (Michigan)
Song "The Swing" will soon be released on a Children's compilation CD titled "Isn't It A Wonder".

Photos

Bio

One of Cincinnati's favorite songsmiths.
4 Cincinnati Entertainment Award Nominations (Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Songwriter, Folk/Americana)

"bread-and-butter is elegant, graceful and often poetic Americana music." - Mike Breen, Cincinnati CityBeat

Has opened for semi-famous folk heroes Paul Thorn, Erin McKeown, Pierce Pettis, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and guitar virtuoso / McCartney/WIngs alumnus Laurence Jubar.

One the best solo acoustic performances you’ll come across with engaging songs and a unique approach.

"I've built my Midwest tours around seeing this guy play. It was like he knew something the rest of us didn't, like he had a direct line to Plato's world of ideas, where everything just works and is profoundly beautiful." - South Carolina based songsmith Dylan Sneed.