musings 250_edited-1No, not that phrase; in this case, it stands for Same Story, Different Day.  And I’m not talking about Groundhog Day.  This will be my first musing where I muse about the same subject, a second time.

I previously wrote about seeing Mac McAnally (read it here) at the Franklin Theatre (“re” vs. “er” since it is in Franklin, TN).  I had the opportunity to see him again at a relatively new music venue in Nashville named City Winery.  It bills itself as a listening room which basically means – shut up and listen while the band/artist is playing.

The stage is in a huge room with tables instead of regular theater style seats.  They pride themselves on their wine list and their menu.  The menu for the listening room is limited compared to the dining room menu.  All of the items would fall in what I call “pretty food” and they only have micro-brews.  However, it is a great place to listen to music.

Enough about the food; this is a music column, not a restaurant review column.  I was very excited about this show because I had great seats.  As a Christmas present to my wife, I had gotten us seats at the front table.  [Yeah, she saw through that as well].  We literally were resting our elbows on the stage.   We were surrounded by Mac fans.  One drove from Atlanta to see the show and quickly introduced himself and presented a business card touting his Jimmy Buffett fan club.  Our other table mate also drove in from far away (can’t remember) and had an influence on the set list – more on that later.

As Mac played, you really got the feeling that he loved what he does and acted as if he couldn’t believe that people would actually pay to hear him play.  He also went through about six different guitars as he wound his way through the set list.  He didn’t disappoint in his song selection or showing why he is seven-time CMA musician of the year.  As I said in my previous post, he is a songwriter’s songwriter and a musician’s musician.

set listSpeaking of the set list, here is a pic of the actual set list taken by the lady sitting across from us:

I told you we were close.  The handwritten notes to the side are notes on which guitar Mac would use for the song.  He added another song about two or three songs from the end.  It was a song named “Barney” which is on his debut album from 1977.  He added it because of the previously discussed lady at our table.  She kept asking him to play it and he did.  It was refreshing that he did that because it is a great song and it shows that his shows are some slick, highly produced sets.  He also closed with the Duane Allman’s instrumental “Little Martha”.  He told the story again of how he kept trying and trying to learn this song years ago only to find out that it was two guitars on the song and not just one.  You can also see that he paid tribute to Mr. Buffett by playing “A Pirate Looks at Forty” which was another song not on the list.

As you can tell, I am a huge Mac fan and encourage anyone to go see him if you can.  He truly loves his songs and the stories that each tell.  Here is a no zoom picture to show again how close we were:


Musing in Music City


P.S.  As a closing nugget, the stage announcer introduced Mac as “Mac McNally” to which the majority of the crowd heckled the announcer.  Later in the show, Mac referenced that and told the story of how Buffett is always laughing when he calls Mac.  Seems that Siri pronounces Mac’s name as “Mac-Anally” with a long “A” on the Anally part (as in “anal”).

Mac McAnally: The Songwriter’s Songwriter

beaverdamusa.com music musings zach claytonThe older I get, the harder it is to impress me musically. Call me a music curmudgeon, but after hundreds of live shows, the “wow” moments are rare. A double “wow” took place on Friday March 21, 2014 at the Franklin Theatre. Mac McAnally. If you know about Mac, that is all I need to say. If you don’t know Mac, read on.

Officially, Mac is a singer, songwriter, producer, and a musician. He is the reigning CMA Musician of the Year and that is a spot he has held for 6 years running. His songs have graced the albums of country stars from Alabama to Sawyer Brown to Kenny Chesney and some beach bum named Jimmy Buffett.

zach clayton, mac mcanally, beaverdamusa.com

Zach Clayton and Mac McAnally.

I first learned of Mac at a Buffett show at the old Starwood Amphitheater (sigh). Buffett would introduce “Nashville and Muscle Shoals’ own – Mac McAnally” and they would do a couple of songs together. Over time, I would always see him playing at Buffett’s Nashville shows and noticed that my favorite Buffett songs were those written (or co-written) by Mac. Through the years I was lucky enough to see him a few times:

  • A benefit concert at a mega-church in Brentwood with Mac, Skip Ewing, Paul Overstreet, the late Paul Davis.
  • A Mac only show at the Harbor Docks restaurant/bar in Destin, FL. There were only 30 people there that night.
  • A monthly gospel-themed show called Sam’s Place at the Ryman hosted by Gary Chapman.

I mention those so you can appreciate that Mac doesn’t do major tours or a lot of solo shows. His main gig these days is being a permanent member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.

The setting was the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, TN. It was a very intimate setting with probably only 225 or so seats. The show sold out in less than a week. If you have ever watched VH1’s “Storytellers” show, this was the setting. Before every song, Mac would get introduce the song, explaining the deeper meaning, why it was important, etc. For the majority of his almost two hour set, it was just him, his six different guitars, and a grand piano. Below are the most memorable moments for me:

  • Telling the story of how he met Chet Atkins for the first time and Chet was asking him how impressed he was with a “flutter” he did on the guitar on the second track of side 2 of his first album.
  • Having the set list in his phone which he checked occasionally to see what was next.
  • Telling the story of getting his first gig in honky-tonks making $250/week at the age of 13.
  • Kenny Chesney calling to say that he wanted to record a Mac song. Not a particular song, but any song – “You pick it out”.
  • Buffett hearing Mac’s first album and telling him that he loved it and that it was special. Mac said that became the beginning of not only a musical relationship but a strong friendship.
  • Talking about trying year after year to learn a particular part in Duane Allman’s “Little Martha”, only to learn that it was two guitars. He played this as his final number, perfectly, on one guitar.
  • Bringing fellow Coral Reefer Peter Mayer and percussionist Eric Darken on stage for a few numbers. Darken was in the studio with Chesney & Mac when they worked out “Down the Road”.
  • Having his Facebook followers choose one song out of three to be included in the set list.
  • Mac invited the people in the audience to meet him in the lobby after the show. He said he would talk, sign, and take pictures for as long as it took. He did.
mac mcanally, beaverdamusa.com

Mac McAnally plays the Franklin Theatre, Franklin, Tenn., March 21, 2014.

Well, I guess I have gushed enough about the show. In summary, it was a rare chance to sit and listen to one of the great musicians and storytellers in this town do his work.  He is a true songwriter’s songwriter and a musician’s musician.


For a nine minute primer on Mac, go to:  www.youtube.com/embed/ShF-d8FGICE

P.S. For the purists, here is the set list:

  • Blame It on New Orleans
  • Café on the Corner
  • Miracle
  • All These Years
  • Socrates (the song with the flutter Chet asked about)
  • This Time
  • Junk Cars
  • Medley – Old Flame/Two Dozen Roses/Thank God for You
  • Down the Road (with Peter Mayer)
  • Meanwhile (with Peter Mayer)
  • The City (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • (Nothing Like) A Sunny Day (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken) – Facebook followers choice
  • Singing in Your Cage (Peter Mayer solo song)
  • On Account of You (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Heard It Through the Grapevine (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Back Where I Come From (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • It’s My Job – [my personal favorite]


  • A Pirate Looks at 40 – tribute to Jimmy Buffett
  • Little Martha – Duane Allman song (see above)

The only downside is that with a catalog as large as Mac’s, there are always those left out songs such as You First, Southbound, Changing Channels, Love in the Library etc.

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