Meyer & McGuire Autobiography

 

Pic-Frank on Front

 

Whenever I listen to performers, either their live shows or their recordings, a great desire to know their history emerges in me. I want to know things like where they came from, when and how they got started, who influenced them, who they have played with, and what kind of people they are. So, if you are a person like me, this autobiography is for you.

Anyway, it all got started for me in 1970 in Saugerties, NY, a little town along the west bank of the Hudson River. Saugerties lies about one hundred miles north of New York City and ten miles east of Woodstock. At the time, Woodstock was a hopping place. Artists like Dylan and The Band lived there, and at times, members from The Band would even hang out at the Main Street Restaurant in Saugerties. These guys and a myriad of others like them became the catalysts who lured me into wanting to sing and play guitar. Of course, the real reason is, as we all know, guitars attract girls.

After conveying to the Warfel brothers, close friends of mine from Saugerties, that I wanted to play guitar, Gene, the oldest Warfel, helped me select a guitar and began to teach me some chords. The first song I learned was The Byrds' version of Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere." I still play it after thirty-eight years, and I believe I will play it for another thirty-eight.

My first concerts occurred in the living room of the Warfel home, which overlooks the Hudson. Some nights we would pick and grin into the wee hours of the morning. I was the only one who could remember words, so I would sing the song, play rhythm guitar, and pass leads around to anyone who had an instrument in his hand. To this day, I follow the same format when I play with others, and I am at my happiest when I can do this.

After the summer of 1970, I returned to Colgate University for my sophomore year. I continued to practice and learn songs, but it wasn't until my senior year that I got my first opportunity to perform publicly. A girl who managed The Agora, the campus coffeehouse at Colgate, heard me practicing and asked me if I wanted to share an evening with some other performers. On the night of the performance, I did something I no longer have a need to do; I drank nearly a six-pack of beer to calm my nerves. Despite all of that beer, it was a show I will never forget. For the first time in my life, I felt that I was in a place where I was supposed to be, and I knew that, as often as I could, I would try to return to this place throughout the rest of my life. That night I learned that, for me, nothing tops being able to use music to open the hearts and souls of people.

In 1974, I moved to the Finger Lakes Region of New York to teach English at Canandaigua Academy. Although my day job kept me quite busy, I managed to find time at night to write songs and practice the guitar. One of my students, who lived in an apartment near mine in Canandaigua, told me that a restaurant called Marymac's Fish Shanty was looking for folk singers. Her sister worked there as a waitress, and she got me an audition with the owner, Captain Yogi. Yogi hired me, and that got my music career started in the Finger Lakes Region.  I worked for Captain Yogi and his sweet wife, Lois, up until the summer of 2004.  They sold their restaurant in the spring of 2008 and retired to Florida.

During my early years in the Finger Lakes Region, I worked the pubs and restaurants in Canandaigua and the neighboring towns. It wasn't until about 1978 that I began to move towards the city of Rochester with my music. This move, however, was not as a solo act. From 1976 to 1978, I would, on occasion, go out to see Mulligan Stew, a major folk group out of Rochester. In 1978, the group broke up, and I befriended Steve Miller, a singer and guitar player from the band. The chemistry between us was ineffable, and we started a duo called Meyer and Miller. Not long after that, Carol Mulligan, the lead singer from Mulligan Stew, joined us, and we became Meyer, Miller, and Mulligan. We played many of the pubs and restaurants throughout Rochester, and it was with this group that I began to learn Irish music. I had some of the finest times in my life when I played with this group, and one of them occurred one night in a little place called George Cullen's, an Irish pub on the corner of Ridgeway and Dewey Avenues in Rochester.

It was at George Cullen's that Meyer and McGuire first met. Siobhan, who was living in Buffalo at the time, came to Rochester to visit her family. She worked for Steve Miller when she lived in Rochester, and she came out to see the band during her visit. While we were on break, I brushed her elbow when we were introduced, and I felt an instant attraction to her. The feeling, however, was not mutual because, later in the evening, she politely told me that she was taken. I accepted this rejection graciously, but the attraction did not fade.

From 1979 until 1981, Siobhan and I periodically ran into each other at some of the band's performances. During this time, we began to get together on somewhat of an informal basis. When I left the band in 1981, I figured I would not see her any more. This, however, was not the case. She came to some of my solo performances, and it was during this period we discovered that we belonged together. We moved in with each other in September of 1982 and have been together ever since.

Around the time Siobhan and I started "living in sin," I began working with Maria Gillard, a great singer/songwriter who hails from Fulton, a little city just north of Syracuse, NY. Throughout the early and mid 80's, we worked as a duo in Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region. It was during this time that Siobhan took her first dip in the music pool. She began running sound for Maria and me. After Maria left the Canandaigua area, I went back to doing solo acts with Siobhan as my sound person. We approached the music this way throughout the late 80's and early 90's. On occasion, some other musicians would join me, but for the most part, I remained a solo act. It wasn't until 1992 that major changes occurred in our wonderful life with music.

First of all, one Sunday afternoon in the late winter of 1992, I shared the stage with some other musicians at Jazzberries, a bar in downtown Rochester. One of the groups, Blue Delta, had an acoustic bass player named Bruce Jackson, and he created some great sounds with this instrument. Siobhan was attracted to the sound, and she became interested in learning how to play. She bought a bass, and after about a year of practicing with me, joined me on stage, and the group, Meyer and McGuire, was formed.

Another great event occurred In the fall of 1992. I began work on Home Town, my first CD. It was recorded at The Garage, a little studio in Rochester, NY. John and Joe Dady, owners of the studio and quintessential musicians in the areas of folk, country, bluegrass, and Irish music, did a terrific job in backing me up on the CD. It contains twelve original songs from which you will gain insight about my philosophy of life. Is the CD good? I'll leave that up to you. After all, that is really all I can do, isn't it? However, I can tell you this. I loved doing the project, and I consider it one of the finest things I have ever done in my life.

Throughout the 90's, Siobhan and I worked as a duo in and around the Rochester area. During this time we befriended Tim Chaapel, a guitar, fiddle, and mandolin player from Canandaigua. Tim began to join us whenever his hectic schedule would allow him to do so, and to this very day, you may occasionally catch him sitting in with us.

In 1997, I entered The Garage for another recording session. This time, the Dady Brothers and I were joined by Siobhan and Tim, and together, we composed Caught in the Middle. The CD contains ten original songs similar to the style of Home Town. Siobhan and I released the CD in the summer of 1998, and it was a great experience. Once again, I will let you judge its worth for yourself. However, I will tell you I feel that Caught in the Middle shows that we have grown since the creation of Home Town.

In June of 2006, we retired from teaching and started working on The Road Less Traveled, a new CD.  Many of our fans asked for a CD with just Siobhan and me on it; so we gave it a shot.  We recorded it at Rich Cooley Studios, a great little place about one mile from our house.  All the music on the recording is produced by us, and with Rich Cooley’s help, Siobhan mixed and mastered the recording.  Siobhan also did the graphics for the CD with the help of Meredith Mallwitz and Jamie Frarey, two of our long-time friends from the area.  We completed the project in May of 2008.  Once again, the CD illustrates our growth as musicians, and we love it.  Hope you do too!

Our CDs are available to you on line via CD Baby, and you can now download our songs to your computer, MP3, iPod, etc. From the “iTunes and Other Digital Outlets” link on our web site.

Who knows what lies down the road! All I can tell you is that Meyer and McGuire plan to "bop until we drop!" Since music has brought us in touch with so many wonderful people, we can hardly wait to meet the new friends who are still somewhere down the road! Hope you become one of them!

 

E-mail us at McRiley@Frontiernet.net