& McGuire Autobiography
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 Forty-seven years, and I
believe I will play it for another forty-seven.
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
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, where they
lived happily until Yogi passed away in 2017.
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
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!
Since the recording of
The Road Less Traveled, we have embarked on some new ventures in the world of
music. In 2012, we started hosting a
concert series, “Singer/songwriters in the Side Room.” Twice a month, we have regional
singer/songwriters showcase their original material at Buffalo Bill’s Family
Restaurant and Taproom in Shortsville, NY.
As a result of the retirement of Bill and Robin Mallwitz, the owners of
Buffalo Bill’s, our concert series moved in 2018 to Rio Tomatlan in
Canandaigua, NY. Unfortunately, the
concert series came to an abrupt halt in March of 2020 with the arrival of the
pandemic. At this time, we cannot say
when or if the concert series will resume.
During the time of
hosting this concert series, we released some singles, “Last Man Standing,”
“When You Were Cute and I Had All My Hair,” “Livin’ Small,” and “Just
One.” We did this with the help of Perry
Cleaveland, Bob Spadafora, and Rich Cooley.
In 2020, we released
three singles, “Antique Rocking Chair,” “A Little Thought I’d Like to Share,”
and “The Friday Click.” We produced
these three in our home studio. Along
with playing bass, Siobhan recorded, mixed and mastered the songs, and designed
covers for each of the singles. Perry
Cleaveland enhanced these songs with some great sounds from his fiddle,
mandolin, and electric mandolin.
Our CDs and singles are
available to you at our shows, and you can download them on line via CD
Baby, iTunes, Amazon, etc. Also, you can stream our songs on Spotify,
Amazon, and other streaming services.
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