The Pat McGee Band is what is commonly referred to as a band of journeyman musicians. In the 25 years since their initial formation, they’ve acquired a fanatical popular following, one that was so determined that it produced sales of over 100,000 copies of their first three albums and eventually caused Warner Bros. Records to take notice and sign the group to an exclusive contract at the end of the ‘90s. The band’s dedication to working the road was so steadfast that at one point in their ten year touring stint, they played a remarkable 98 concerts in a period of 103 days. They shared stages with the Who, the Allman Brothers, James Taylor, and many more, and also achieved the ultimate honors -- performing for president Bill Clinton, touring with the USO and sharing their songs onboard the USS Eisenhower with 5,000 servicemen and servicewomen serving a tour of duty in the Arabian Sea.
“There was no plan B,” McGee says in retrospect. “We sold 12,000 copies of our first album out of the trunk of our car. We had a rabid fanbase that supported us every step of the way. We never had that huge pop hit, but in a way that helped assure our success. We never had to count on replaying a single song in order to move forward. It was our diligence and devotion, our steadfast approach to making music that was honest and expressive that became the backbone of our sound.”
Sadly, the band’s progress came to a tragic end in October 2006 when drummer Chris Williams succumbed to a heart condition. McGee struck out on his own, adding five solo albums to the half dozen efforts recorded under the band’s own banner.
It’s significant then that the band -- McGee (lead vocals and all guitars) Al Walsh (backing vocals), Jonathan Williams (keys, backing vocals), Chardy McEwan (percussion), John Small (bass), and new drummer Matt Calvarese -- have reconvened and will release their first new effort in 14 years early next year. Dubbed Sugar Packet -- after the nickname affectionately given Williams by his bandmates -- and recorded at 38 North Studio in Falls Church, Virginia with producers Kit Karlson and Chip Johnson, it reunites the original members of the Pat McGee Band and signals a return to the musical bedrock that was their calling card all along. Once again, the emphasis is on melodies that are both memorable and evocative, an upbeat party vibe that weighs heavily on the familiarity factor, three part harmonies, ringing guitars, steadfast rhythms, sparkling keyboards, and a sound that’s certain to revive their populist appeal.
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