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INTERVIEW: Fred McKinney
By
Cyrus Rhodes

 

"priceless conventional wisdom"

 

"some of the best songwriting I've heard this year."

- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-

 

 

           

 

              

www.fredmckinneysongs.com

 

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I recently had the privilege of reviewing the latest CD by Fred McKinney entitled High Water. From start to finish High Water is an amazing musical collection from Fred McKinney. The music is powerful, upbeat, & very honest & straightforward.  McKinney makes no attempt to sugar coat the truth anywhere on this CD. Instead he tells each tale with a very honest assessment of life & some of its subtle imperfections. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing, playing & singing abilities of Fred McKinney & his band are rock solid, the melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with priceless conventional wisdom. Last but not least the vocal presence of McKinney is something cut from the cloth of Americana legend. McKinney brings a lot to the table – life experiences, rich conventional wisdom, good playing, amazing songwriting, & a voice that shines bright like an rare gem. I get the impression underestimating McKinney would be a very foolish thing to do. At the end of the day he makes his point with this catalogue - crystal clear. Some of the songwriting on this CD is in many ways the best songwriting I've heard this year. Fred McKinney is an infectious Americana artist worthy of spotlight, attention, & praise. I look forward to hearing more music from Fred McKinney very, very soon.
 

 

Read the CD Review

 

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IMD I really enjoyed your latest CD “High Water”? Could you share with us the title inspiration?  

FM There’s a country road a few miles from my home that runs through bottom land and floods frequently.  When the road is flooded there is a sign at the end reading “High Water.”  I started with that phrase to write the song, and decided that it stands well for the whole CD, as well as for a lot that’s happening in our world.

IMD Who have been some of your top musical influences over the years?

FM I did a blog post on my website titled “Songwriting: Influences vs. Favorites,” in an effort to decide who has influenced my songwriting--ended with the conclusion that if I liked a songwriter’s work, he/she was probably an influence.  My influences/favorites include, not necessarily in this order: Steve Earle, Tom Russell, James McMurtry, Nanci Griffith, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Mark Knopfler, Tom Waits, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Richard Thompson, Gillian Welch, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Harry Belafonte, Buddy Holly and many others.

IMD How does this CD differ from your other release? 

FM My first CD, “Pure Simple Joy” was bare bones, just me and my Taylor 810.  The songs were simpler—I’d only been writing songs for a couple years—and there was no “production” of the recordings.  “High Water” is a much more “produced” effort, with a lot added by my brother Todd, as well as some added by Eric Barkdull, who recorded eight of the vocal and guitar tracks.

IMD What was the best concert you have ever been to?

FM I saw The Band in Harvard Stadium in 1969, and Dire Straits at the Agora in Cleveland in 1981.

IMD How’s the music scene in your neck of the woods? 

FM  It’s tough finding places to perform the kind of music I do.  I do all originals and have to travel to Akron or Columbus to find audiences of any size, though I’m trying to build a local following as well.

IMD What’s the one thing you want fans to take from your music? 

FM There’s plenty of injustice in our world, but there’s also love, if you can find it.  And sometimes good things come from bad.

IMD I especially enjoyed the song “King of the County Fair” & “Wheel of Love” could you tell us what inspired those amazing pieces of music?

FM My dad was the “King of the County Fair.”  He spent his last two years in an assisted living facility and as its representative to the fair was elected King.  He was a ladies’ man, but also one of the few men in the facility, and the ladies adored him.  Our relationship was not always the best, but in his last years it was good, and I hope this song shows the love and respect I have for him.  “Wheel of Love:” everyone knows at least one person who has problems with relationships, one who is just not “lucky in love.”  Someone who goes from one love affair (sometimes marriage) to another, with no clue as to what’s going on or why it’s not working out.  One of these is the woman in “Wheel of Love.”

IMD Is there one song that really sticks out most in your mind as being your personal favorite on the CD? 

FM Route 66.  On a trip to the west I tried to follow Route 66 and found that all that was left was some fragments of highway, bypassed motels and restaurants, and sections of road ending in rusty iron bridges.  It was a land of ghosts and lost dreams and I was fascinated and overwhelmed at the same time, and I knew I had to write a song about it.  It was the home of Woody Guthrie and Tom Joad and Mickey Mantle.  Magic country. The original guitar/vocal version was good, but Brother Todd’s addition of piano, drums and electric guitar made it a killer.

IMD What was the first song you ever wrote? 

FM I was inspired by Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” to attempt a song in a similar vein, and failed miserably, as just about everyone does in his/her first efforts (and in any attempt to imitate Dylan.)

IMD What’s next for Fred McKinney?

FM This past February I recorded 18 songs at my brother Todd’s studio in New Hampshire and plan to use some of them in a third CD.  I also have a half dozen or so gospel songs (some already recorded) that I’d like to put in a separate CD.  And I’m booking gigs for 2011 and hoping to get out more than in 2010.

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interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.

Copyright © 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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