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Joey McGee

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When singer-songwriter Joey McGee categorizes his work as roots music, he’s not just
referring to the blend of soul, country, blues and rock commonly called Americana. He’s
talking about his own roots, cultivated in his native New Orleans, nurtured by a sojourn
in San Antonio and a much longer one in Pittsburgh, and planted deeply in his current
home of Bryan, Texas.

In songs such as “Sunday Blues” and “The Likes of You” — recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in
Wimberley, Texas — McGee’s warm baritone delivers lyrics that are incredibly personal and
revealing. But in others, such as “Hurricane/Forty Two Hundred and Cigarettes,” he inhabits
the role of storyteller, weaving Springsteen-worthy narratives for characters who sound so real,
they have to exist somewhere.

Regardless of whether he’s laying bare his own psyche or examining others’, his lyrics
always come across as honest. Genuine. Maybe the word we want here is true. As in, they
feel true. And speak truths. The longing he expresses in “Pining,” a country-leaning tune
enhanced by Kim Deschamps’ mournful pedal steel and producer David Percefull’s Wurlitzer,
is something nearly all of us have experienced. Most of us also know what it’s like to struggle with
feeling out of place, unmoored, as McGee describes in “Sunday Blues.” And if we’re
lucky, we’ve experienced what it’s like to find a place that feels so right, we know we’re
home at last. That’s the subject of “Deep in the Heart,” McGee’s love letter to Texas.

Of course, Texas’ varied musical influences have as much of an effect on McGee as its
natural elements. In these parts, sincerity matters, and dedication counts. Artists quickly
learn which masters to study: Mt. Rushmore includes Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.
If you’re gonna record one of their tunes, you’d better bring it, and on “The Cape” and
“Pancho and Lefty” McGee does.

McGee hones his craft and soaks up wisdom wherever he can. And
sometimes, he’ll impart it, too. He knows people sometimes wonder, but
might be too shy to ask how “a black city dude got involved in folk and country music.”
“The simple answer is, I like simplicity. I like a good story and I like playing guitar,” he
says. “The whole ‘three chords and the truth’ thing really resonates with me, and I find
that in country and folk. It’s in the blues and gospel, too, and I think blues and country
are two sides of the same coin. I can dig ‘em both if there’s a good story to tell and a
good groove to be had.”

And he adds, “It taps into the rootedness of who I am — a Southern, CreoleCajun
musician working through my hang-ups and trying to make the world a better
place along the way.”