pat mAcdonald
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pat mAcdonald

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The best kept secret in music



"I've always been drawn to the lower notes on the guitar," says Macdonald when questioned about his sound. His trademark is a unique dirtch of dark and murky blues boogie and sex-swamp. He is the epitome of an old school one man show with his custom made boot stomp box, electric semi-hollow guitar and a voice that is at once angelic and evil.

The heart stop of a subwoofer and the sometimes backing beauty and voice of his companion Katherine aid in the haunt and the "spooky modal mountain melodies" of his music. He spent hours in his room as a teenager listening and playing to John Lee Hooker which is evident in the way he approaches sound and emotion. After seeing Macdonald solo, it is easy to see how other instruments might just get in the way of the boogie spook and feelings he nails.

It is a feat to stand out amongst a sea of mediocre singer/songwriters. Pat does this easily and even more so when he is sandwiched between standard rock formats. His sound is an easy lay in any environment, finding comfort in a roadhouse or music hall. His lyrics are strong and the feeling comes through beautifully in the nakedness of the solo delivery. There is a scent of the sweet and dangerous, of the sexy and vulnerable. This is no surprise hearing Pat talk about music. "Music is ethereal sex, like having sex in the air." Or how he describes the meeting of mind and body in his songwriting. "Song writing can be consciously putting complex thoughts into metaphor, but if you are not expressing the horny human animal part of you then the thoughts get in the way of the feeling. . . ."

Listening to a Pat Macdonald record, it becomes clear he practices what he preaches. His songs get in your head and you are forced to put his record on, not because you can't get it out of your head, but because you ache to hear the real thing again. His studio work in particular does an excellent job of defining the subtle nuance the mood and sway of emotion in song. The production aids in this definition of mood and Pat's records have the added blessing of John Parish (P.J. Harvey, Eels, Sparklehorse) as producer and sometimes player on his studio ventures.

Macdonald has written songs for a long list of characters including Cher and Aerosmith but you wouldn't know it from talking to him. With the exception of his new live record, In The Red Room, which is available on CD Baby, you might have to search to find his music. It is out there, Pat claims you can find "Sleeps With His Guitar" on Ebay sometimes, but some of his records are only available in Europe. It is well worth the hunt however, since each album transmits a different voice. Most obviously, last year's release of "Strange Love, PM Does DM", an entire acoustic album of Depeche Mode songs. His new live album will give you the best overview of his live style and song writing spunk, but Begging Her Graces is also worth a listen. It weaves a variety of genres all the while holding true to the strength of the songs.

Pat has the salt and pause of an elder statesmen when he speaks about his philosophy of music and life. They seem to him inextricably intertwined. Yet, for someone so passionate about his beliefs and ideas he seems overtly nonjudgmental about how others live their lives.

When asked about his denial of over a million dollars in advertising, he makes a point to state that his own opinions on the subject should never condemn anyone else in their choices. He speaks as a man who has found his place on the complex see-saw of music and promotion and is content to let others find their own way. "Everyone has to find their comfort zone," he says, "it is harder and harder for musicians to make a living these days... the meshing of commercialism and music is not the death of art. Music adds a bit of magic to a product being sold, but for me it robs some magic from the music. I made a promise to myself a long time ago. It's good to keep promises you make to yourself."
-Jason Broome -

"Shake, rattle, and please buy my product"

U.S. News & World Report
Volume 124, Issue 20

Madison Avenue pays big bucks for tunes

Author: John Marks
Section: Business & Technology
Page: 51

Record company boss Miles Copeland recently invited nearly 100 songwriters to his chateau in the South of France for two weeks of music, foie gras, and fellowship. When songwriter Pat MacDonald showed up for the annual event, he was asked the same old question: Why in the name of Elvis Presley won't he let his songs be used in television commercials?

In 1986, Bausch & Lomb offered MacDonald $150,000 for the rights to use his Top 40 hit "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" to advertise its Ray-Ban line of sunglasses. But the singer-songwriter, then fronting a band called Timbuk 3, said no deal. A few years later, Clairol upped the ante to $450,000 for another of his songs, "Hairstyles and Attitudes." MacDonald turned that down, too. And last year, the artist rejected a $500,000 offer from fast-food giant McDonald's, once again for "The Future's So Bright." The company hinted that it might go as high as a million, but MacDonald still wouldn't budge--even though his only permanent address is a rented motel room in Austin, Texas. "I'm constantly feeling like somehow I have to justify my choice to people," says the scruffy, soft-spoken MacDonald.

As anyone who owns a TV set can surmise, few musicians today seem to share MacDonald's disdain for "selling out." With in-house jingles like Burger King's "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce" considered passé, advertising agencies increasingly are paying astronomical sums for pop songs, and rock stars from David Bowie to Mick Jagger are cashing in. By building their ad campaigns around real songs, companies believe they can create an instant emotional connection between their product and millions of music-loving TV viewers.

The average hit now costs Madison Avenue $250,000. But for the right tune, firms are willing to pay much more. Online company Excite recently spent $7 million on an ad campaign featuring Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" Microsoft is reported to have spent as much as $12 million on the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up." And Nike paid $700,000 for the rights to the Verve's recent hit "Bitter Sweet Symphony."

Once an ad agency has chosen a song to fit its campaign, the tricky business of licensing begins. To broker the deal, most agencies work with one of a few major firms, like the Harry Fox Agency, which represents around 18,000 publishers. If a song is likely to become identified with the product (one famous example: Carly Simon's "Anticipation" and ketchup), the publisher will want more money. The broadcast area and the stature of the product can also affect the licensing fee.

Often, the owner of the rights to the song can block its use. The family of Hendrix, for example, closely monitors the licensing of his music, frequently refusing the rights when requests are deemed inappropriate. Some, like MacDonald, deny use altogether. This was so important to the songwriter that the last time he negotiated his contract with the Copeland Group, he had a clause inserted granting himself the right of refusal--a move that cost him other points in the contract, including money. Other artists are similarly stubborn: Neither Bruce Springsteen nor Paul Simon allows his music to be used in TV commercials.

Many artists don't have much control over what happens to their music. Often, a music publisher owns the rights and can sell them over the objections of the artist. This can get messy, as it did recently for the Verve, a British band. The Verve does not own the rights to its own "Bitter Sweet Symphony" because the song contains a sample from a classical rendition of a Rolling Stones song, "The Last Time," which belongs to publisher ABKCO. In an attempt to keep ABKCO from selling the song indiscriminately to the highest bidder, the Verve sold its master recording to Nike for $700,000; of this, ABKCO received $350,000, and the Verve $175,000. There was a silver lining: After the commercial's debut, the Verve's album shot up the charts.

That, says Copeland, should be a lesson to MacDonald. "He needs $100 for groceries," says the executive, "and I tell him, do one commercial, and you could buy a damn house and live happily ever after." But the songwriter won't compromise because he feels that his own songs would be ruined for him, as Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" was for MacDonald, by its use in a Honda commercial.

Picture: The Rolling Stones recently played a private gig for PepsiCo Inc. (Photo illustration by Rob Cady--USN&WR with photographs by (Top) Chris Pizello--AP, (Bottom) Jeffrey MacMillan for USN&WR) - U.S. News & World Report


It always seems as if Pat MacDonald isn't quite telling us the whole story -- that the ex-Timbuk 3 principal is holding something back, a bit of information that gives him the advantage. His songs shudder with a dark intensity, sung by a knowing voice fronting a formidable wit. And the literary acrobatics are only half the story; the music on this European release, enhanced by producer John Parish and many other contributors, is both delicate and defiant, an unusual depth for the traditional instrumentations, and a strange familiarity with lute, varija, and archilaud. Opener "Whiskey Bottle" starts things off on a typically
contradictory note: hope and despair in the same breath. The album comes alive with "Little Dark Angel," a horribly catchy melody, the sweet-hot juxtaposition of plunky banjo and electric guitar the perfect foil for the vocal play between MacDonald's morose mid-tone and Lidia Pujol's lilting
backup. Solo acoustic numbers glide off full electric numbers, the remainder of the album demonstrating a wider range of sounds than his last release
...Sleeps With His Guitar. No clutter, though, only the realization of
ideas and melodies. "Severine" is disarmingly straightforward and sincere, "Space Kitty Blues" is a nutty romp -- the contradictions just won't leave you alone. There's a lot Pat MacDonald hasn't told us -- not yet, anyway.
-Christopher Hess - Austin Chronicle **** Four Stars


“…at 10pm on came Pat MacDonald (formerly of the band Timbuk 3), who blew us all away. A lanky shy man, long-dark-hair, sunglasses hiding his weathered face, with a beautiful 20-something wife/manager (sharp as a tack and really cool) along to help out, Pat took the stage in a self-effacing manner, set up his Fender Twin, his stomp pad mic'd for his foot (think Chris Whitley) and proceeded to blow the room away with his de-tuned blues songs, very dark, very poetic, absolutely beautiful. Pat lives in Barcelona (nice life) and is on a German label. I suggest everyone should find his album "Degrees of Gone" on Ulftone records. Rare beauty.” - Amy Speace -


Last Thursday I caught a show at The Eagle that was completely brilliant, the kind of rock show where the first song burned like a red hot brand, marking indelibly the proof that this was the real deal, the very essence and spirit of rock and roll that makes it all worth it. It’s the quality that enveloped you in a world you understood with a passion you yearned for when little else made sense besides your headphones and shutting your bedroom door tight away from your parents. Away from all the teen pressures and trauma that might have produced a tragic high school killing spree had you not learned from your cheap stereo that there was a world of music out there for you—cathartic, unnerving and alive with meaning. Like a clue that there was indeed a future worth living for, music would be a salvation soundtrack as loud in decibels as I chose and as large a part of my life as I could make it. Seeing solo performer Pat Macdonald play his set at the Eagle last week reminded me of those early moments of discovery, when I realized rock and roll could indeed stir a certain passion in me, prompt me to travel great distances for a show, stay in my room with one record and a tab of LSD and travel countless miles of concept, feel the rush and drive of a song and know that rock music would chart the course of my life more than slightly. His riveting set was everything rock and roll should be, as life-affirming and magical and real as any number of rock luminaries that shaped my own personal fanaticism from age 11 forward. - Don Baird, SF Bay Times


MacDonald’s new CD, Troubadour of Stomp [Broken Halo], is full of moments of catharsis. Perhaps the most notable is “Thanks Man”—a wry, sarcasm-laden reflection on the real-life dissolution of his marriage. The track finds him thanking a friend for sleeping with his wife, and propelling the relationship’s decline. MacDonald is long known for his playful, edgy songs. They were the hallmark of his days in Timbuk3, where he enjoyed a major hit with 1986’s “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” Several high-profile musicians, including Stewart Copeland, Imogen Heap, Cher, and Peter Frampton have also collaborated with MacDonald on material for their albums.

For MacDonald, the medium is related to the message. Using a notebook versus a computer to write lyrics is linked to his songwriting approach.

“When the song is coming from a deeper place, and I feel I need to keep up with those thoughts as they flow, a pen and paper serve as a more fluid conduit,” says MacDonald. “The size limits of the page make you focus, and when you want to edit, you tend to think deeply about it because the words can only be changed by physically crossing them out. But when I’m working with pieces of material culled from here and there, using the computer to assemble them is a better approach.”

MacDonald typically writes music on his ’59 Martin D-28, although he plays live with a Gibson Chet Atkins, and also used the Gibson to record Troubadour of Stomp. He favors a swampy, low-end sound achieved by splitting his signal between a Fender Twin Reverb and a Yorkville Elite powered subwoofer, as well as tuning all his strings down one step—except the low E, which he takes down another step or two depending on the song. MacDonald also uses a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive for added grit. The other major component of his rig is his “stompbox”—a piece of q" plywood with an AKG D 12 microphone mounted on it that he stomps on to produce a rhythmic pulse.

Every June, MacDonald helms the Steel Bridge SongFest, a series of concerts and songwriting workshops that raises funds to preserve a historic bridge in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

“Sometimes, organizers at writing events take a contrived approach by saying ‘this person writes good lyrics, this one is good at writing music, this one is arty, and this one knows how to write a hit. Therefore, together they’ll write an arty hit,’” says MacDonald. “We try to be more eclectic and unpredictable by starting with a game of spin the bottle to create interesting teams. The results are fantastic. The collective approach really motivates people to deliver according to their strengths in order to please each other, and gain the love of the group.” -Anil Prasad


“…I missed the first part of Pat MacDonald’s set on Sunday night, in which he probably played songs from his new CD, Troubadour of Stomp. Too bad for me because Troubadour is full of the good stuff - lowdown, swampy, sexy, menacing, especially on “Shake Well,” “Too High,” and “I Never Will” - but he was so revved up on the stomp board his set ran over by almost 20 minutes. He’s always had that dark silver way with words and predates the current one-man band trend by about 15 years.
By the time I thought to scribble a few notes, he’d dissected “Only Human” and hammered “Standard White Jesus” from his Timbuk3 days. It was time for a few covers, baptized in MacDonald holy water and left to dry with new wrinkles and textures. The Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” waded into that river and he stood in as preacher for a sublime rethinking of “When Doves Cry.”
Wrapping the set with a medley that included the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues,” the red Continental stage glowed like a glimpse of hell’s own circus. MacDonald morphed into the dark angel in devil’s drag, beckoning me into his strange carnival of sideshow music so wicked it redeemed the soul and left me feeling purified.
Now that’s a good trick.” -Margaret Moser



There is a ghostly presence in Pat MacDonald's music. A spirit that is eerie, remote and yet completely captivating. MacDonald's dark, tempting style of blues provokes images of desolate, desert roads and lonesome cantinas. MacDonald has managed to create progressive music that is just as blues/country based as it is inspired by the shoe-gazing scene. But perhaps most importantly, it's void of cliches or overused inspirations. Instead, his music is a provocative spirit of dust, booze and lonely roadside blues. Pat MacDonald will perform at The Map Room, 1650 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., Tuesday with Chris Aaron and the Wyatt Gary Band. Tickets are $5 at the door. Visit for more information.



"Aside from being one of the great lyricists in the English language, he is a totally unique voice... I saw him play a little gig in a Spanish bar in the Pyrenees. These people had no way of knowing how good the lyrics were because they didn't speak any English at all. He got going with his stomp board and playing his guitar And it was just so hip. It was so driving that they just turned on the strobe light and started dancing." -Jackson Browne - NO DEPRESSION MAGAZINE


Twenty-odd years and a thousand songs ago Pat MacDonald got the
shit kicked out of him by members of the Green Bay West High School football team. MacDonald wore his hair long and in those days, particularly within three miles of the hallowed ground that is Lambeau Field, that just didn't fly.

The football coach himself, soon to be principal, ordered the hit
on the rangy, teenaged musician. The attack happened just as MacDonald was getting expelled for his hair.

Long haired rockers were getting beat up all over the country in
1969. What makes MacDonald's whupping different is that Bob and Elaine MacDonald sued the Green Bay Public Schools, holding them liable for the coach's instructions and the players' actions, and took their case all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The phone started ringing almost immediately after the lawsuit was
filed. You just didn't target the high school football coach in Green
Bay, Wisconsin. Neighbors, former friends, and strangers called to let them know it. Smilin' Bob MacDonald, a loyal member of the community and journeyman engineer at the Charmin paper mill, became a pariah overnight.

MacDonald vs. the Green Bay Board of Education was settled before
the high court ruled. Attorneys drafted a settlement awarding the family a million dollars. Bob MacDonald turned it down. Instead, he asked for $1,500, a sum sufficient to cover his legal expenses and travel. And he asked that his son be allowed back in school.

"They didn't want people to think they did it for the money,"
remembers Christie MacDonald Weber, Pat's sister. "They were saying, in their own way, 'We won't sell out.'"

Today Weber believes their parents' actions are directly tied to
her brother's reputation for turning away millions of commercial dollars for his songs, including Timbuk3's camera ready 1986 hit "The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)".

"So many musicians write Pat off as a whack job for turning his
back on those millions," says Weber. "But many of those same people know deep down music sales are abused by corporations."

MacDonald himself is less pragmatic. "Everyone has to find their
comfort zone," he told "The meshing of commercialism and music is not the death of art. Music adds a bit of magic to a product being sold, but for me it robs some of the magic from the music. I made a promise to myself a long time ago. It's good to keep promises to yourself."

These days the troubadour of stomped is the Troubadour Of Stomp,
the name of his new solo CD, a dozen brazen new songs packed with MacDonald's lusty, low-end guitars, stormy harmonica and falsetto singing. Oh. And some of the best word play in American music.

A lyricist's lyricist, MacDonald's words ignite the dark space
between the lines of our lives. "Thanks Man", Stomp's closing track, is classic sleight of hand. A big bite of poison dusted with sugar. In it MacDonald gives bitter thanks to the man who took his wife away:

Thanks, man. Thanks for showing us how much you care.
Thanks, man. Thanks for seeing some potential there.
Thanks, man. Thanks for being such a listener.
Thanks, man. Thanks for being so nice to her.

"Someone said a good song reveals stuff you don't want others to know about you," MacDonald says over afternoon eggs last October at the Pudgy Seagull in downtown Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. "A great song," he adds, "reveals stuff you don't want to know about yourself."

It's a gorgeous late fall day in Sturgeon Bay. Winter comes to the
shores of Lake Michigan as fast as you can drink a glass of water, and a day like this lifts the spirits inside the Seagull and outside, too, out on North 3rd Street where Chicago tourists in pastel sweaters dart into shops for late season bargains.

No place is what it seems, though. When I excuse myself from the
table to use the restroom, I overhear the pretty teenaged cashier
whisper to the bus boy about a friend who's in trouble. Something about police finding the guns in their classmate's car. It's looking bad.

It occurs to me that I'm smack in the middle of a Pat MacDonald
song. Dapper smiling rich tourists on the outside, frightened teenagers with guns on the inside.

Back at the table my eggs have chilled. MacDonald's long fingers
stab at the toasted stacks of his turkey club. He played a bar just down the street last night. In an hour he'll head down Highway 43 to Sheboygan Falls for tonight's show.

MacDonald writes like a trickster, and he looks like one, too. As
we talk his craggy face appears briefly and then dashes behind a curtain of auburn hair. He looks at you like you're an idea, albeit a good one, rather than a person sharing a late lunch. And then there's his speech pattern.

Talking with MacDonald is like dialing in a signal on a ham radio.
The listener has to resist the urge to reach across the table and bang the radio on the head to establish transmission. Long time MacDonald friend and collaborator Jackson Browne described this phenomenon best:

"You have to actually slow down and sort of get on his wavelength
and time. He starts. He starts over again. He repeats part of what he
said and then, 'yeah, uht, uht, uht...'' and then he lunges headlong
into this amazing thought. In that regard he's like a jazz soloist. He
plays with words. He's always playing."

And he's always writing. MacDonald figures he's written a thousand
songs. "These days I get better and better at rejecting songs that
aren't working, which is good because lots of them are crappy." He sips his juice and shoots a mischievous smile. "A miscarriage of poetic justice."

Tonight he loads his one-man rock band into the side door of the
Osthelder Saloon, a shotgun tavern in the heart of downtown Sheboygan Falls. Four clanging bingo machines line the wall opposite the long bar. Badger football highlights blare from above on twin TVs. Anna Nicole Smith highlights screech on another.

Live, MacDonald gets a maximum sound with a minimalist set-up, and this crowd is about to get its ears waxed. Troubadour Of Stomp is driven, and driven hard by MacDonald's left foot. Clad in a custom made black Spanish boot, the musician stomps a quarter-inch piece of plywood with a kick-drum mike for a pick-up. When he first explained it to me I thought of John Hartford's kick board. But that's like comparing a Ford Taurus to an Alpha Romeo.

"I always stomped anyway," MacDonald says. "The stomp board turns something that once disturbed the downstairs neighbors into something that anchors and drives my music."

He first experimented with stomp in Spain during his expatriate
post-Austin years in the 1990s. He had broken up with first wife and Timbuk3 partner Barbara K. Heck, he'd broken up with the whole city of Austin. Jackson Browne loaned him the use of his Barcelona apartment.

"Aside from being one of the great lyricists in the English
language, he is a totally unique voice," Browne said, calling from LA.
"I saw him play a little gig in a Spanish bar in the Pyrenees. These
people had no way of knowing how good the lyrics were because they didn't speak any English at all. He got going with his stomp board and playing his guitar and it was just so hip. It was so driving that they just turned on the strobe light and started dancing."

On stage at the Osthelder MacDonald is ripping through his first
and only set of nearly four hours of music. His words crack your heart. His stomp board thwacks your head. "I Never Will" pulls a rope of tension straight through the room, and the small crowd looks slack-jawed over their bottles of Miller Lite.

MacDonald says he wants his audience "to feel sexy and intelligent,"
and he's getting his wish tonight. Long past midnight he rages into a cover of "Ring Of Fire", which he smashes like a highball glass against a wall of bricks. Then his friend and collaborator Anna Sacks takes the stage.

Sacks introduces the next song, a clever number they wrote together called "If You Only Knew (How to F___)". I don't fill in the last word because they never say it, giving the piece both comic and sexual tension.

But Sacks wants the audience to listen carefully to the words and
she says so. This causes one of America's preeminent lyricists to
playfully chastise her. "I pity you my young friend," he says. "You
think people want to hear words! You must play to the groin! Not the brain!"

While he takes his explosive solo shows to clubs all over the
country, it's the paradox of Pat MacDonald that most of his post-Timbuk3 recordings remain unavailable in the U.S. I had to obtain two relatively recent Pat MacDonald discs from Pat MacDonald himself. Both produced by John Parish (yes, PJ Harvey's collaborator) and built in Spain, 2001's Degrees Of Gone, which features lush orchestral support from the Inchtabokatables, and 1999's Begging Her Graces. (Not to mention an entire album of Depeche Mode covers called Strange Love.)

Troubadour Of Stomp was produced and engineered in Portland,
Oregon, by Pat Kearns at Studio 13, care of AudioCinema Records.
MacDonald bought the master and releases the disc himself this month on his own STEEL BRIDGE/Broken Halo label. Next month he releases a compilation of music performed live at his annual Steel Bridge songwriting festival in Sturgeon Bay.

The festival is a fundraiser to try to save the old steel bridge
that spans the harbor into downtown Sturgeon Bay. Songwriters gather for a week at the funky old Holiday Motel on the water's edge. They write new songs and at the end of the week they perform them. Browne played the festival last June. This year's festival gets underway June 9.

In the meantime, MacDonald will continue to play small clubs and
write. He'll also continue to turn away commercial offers for his music. Though "The Future" is now in the past, the raw nerve of MacDonald's indifference to commercial success is still just below the surface for people like Miles Copeland who managed Timbuk3 in its Austin City Limits/Saturday Night Live-playing hey day.

"I turned down almost $3-million on his wishes to not 'sell out,'
even though I had the legal right to license the song," Copeland told
me. "Pat was always one of the nicest people I worked with and he did have integrity to match his talent. But he was an 'art monster' in the full meaning of the word which would have been fine had we all been making a living from all our efforts."

Even Copeland still carries deep respect for him. "I could always
count on Pat to write great lyrics, and in fact I'm considering hiring
him again to put English words to some great Arab melodies I have.
Hopefully he will be up for it."

Whether or not Copeland and MacDonald connect again, MacDonald's present is plenty bright enough. He's happy with things just the way they are. Not long after the Sheboygan show I asked him what his view of fame was.

"From what I've seen of it, it means people treat you special,
which means you get the kind of respect and consideration everyone deserves but so few get. Everybody wants to be known and loved in their community. Life is better that way. Anonymity is only a luxury to those who can afford to not give a shit."
-Andy Moore




Pat MacDonald Sleeps With His Guitar (Ark 21, 1997 LP); Begging Her Graces (Ulftone, 1999 LP); Degrees Of Gone (Ulftone, 2001 LP); Strange Love: PM Does DM (Ulftone, 2003 LP); In The Red Room (DarkPresents, 2004 LP); Troubadour of Stomp (Broken Halo, 2007 LP)



He pioneered roots-electronica, had a top-20 hit, and was nominated for a "Best New Artist" Grammy.

As a songwriter, He’s co-written with artists from Aerosmith to Zuccero, including half an album with Cher (Not.Com.mercial, 2000). His songs have been performed by artists from Billy Ray Cyrus to Oysterhead to Luciano Pavarotti, and have appeared in dozens of movies.

He recorded nine albums with Timbuk3, whose international hit, “The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” became the anti-anthem of a decade.

As a solo artist, MacDonald has toured extensively in Europe and the U.S. and released seven critically acclaimed albums.

His latest, “Troubadour of Stomp” (Broken Halo 2007) is described by ALLMUSIC GUIDE as: "Some kind of dark collision of metal and swamp blues ... This startlingly original album may not be for everyone, but it certainly establishes MacDonald as a true enigma.”

The Austin Chronicle says: “Troubadour is full of the good stuff - lowdown, swampy, sexy, menacing…He’s always had that dark silver way with words and predates the current one-man band trend by about 15 years.” -Margaret Moser

Since 2005, in his adopted hometown of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, he's hosted Steel Bridge Songfest, a festival of original music and song headlined four years running by legendary singer/songwriter Jackson Browne.

The song he and Browne co-wrote for Steel Bridge 2006 ("Steel Yourself") was included in the compilation “Steel Bridge Songs, Vol. 1”

In the age of sellout, MacDonald remains the antithesis of corporate rock. The high-dollar offers he continues to refuse from corporations like Ford and McDonald’s for the use of his songs in commercials total in the millions. (U.S. News and World Report, vol. 124, #20)