If you really do judge a man by the company he keeps, you have to take Wes McGhee very seriously indeed. Ask around in Austin, Texas and they’ll tell you he’s the real thing - a great songwriter, musician and entertainer whose talents are undisputed, whether as band leader, guest musician or solo artist. Given that they know a bit about music in Texas, that marks Wes McGhee as special.
A Wes McGhee show is likely to include pretty well every major branch of “roots” music you can name - from blues, Tex-Mex, rock ‘n’ roll and pure honkytonk to powerful, evocative and lyrical songs in the best singer-songwriter tradition - all seamlessly meshed together by a great band, some of whom have been with Wes for over twenty years.
Since the late 70’s, Wes has spent much of his time commuting between his English home and Texas, recording a string of beautifully crafted eclectic albums, producing both himself and friends on both sides of the Atlantic and achieving an almost legendary status among connoisseurs of such music styles around the world.
For those of you who do not know, some background information might be useful:
Wes McGhee was born in Leicestershire, England, began playing guitar with a local band when he was only 13 years old, graduated to playing in German rock clubs by the age of 18 and secured his first major record deal - with a division of Pye Records - three years later. His determination to marry psychedelic rock with country music did not endear him to the company, however, and he spent seven frustrating years locked into a contract while no records were being released.
During this time Wes put together the first version of what became his long-time backing band and recorded his first album (Long Nights and Banjo Music) once he was free from his old deal. Having developed an aversion to big record companies, he formed his own Terrapin Records label and subsequently released four other albums during the next six years.
Responding to positive reviews for that first album in the United States, in 1978 Wes visited America for the first time, eventually arriving in Texas for a planned two-week stay which lasted eight months and developed into a twenty-year association.
During these years Wes worked with and for many Texas legends, including Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmour and Alvin Crow. In November 1984 he became the first non-Texan to be awarded a Songwriter's Recognition Night by the Austin Chronicle at Austin's famous Soap Creek Saloon, where he also recorded his seminal live album, Thanks for the Chicken. He was also the first non-US national to be signed to America's leading contemporary songwriters' publishing company, Bug Music.
Wes's overflowing CV includes spells as a record producer (for Freddie Krc, Ponty Bone, Texan poet Roxy Gordon, singer-songwriter Terry Clarke and Irish singer Joe Giltrap) and as a guitar-playing guest on albums by the likes of American singer-songwriters Kimmie Rhodes, Richard Dobson, Randy (RC) Banks, Heather Myles and Billy Swan, as well as those by Kate St John, former Long Ryder lead Sid Griffin, Ponty Bone, The Shakin' Apostles and The Coal Porters.
Add to those the award-winning music score he wrote for the Children's Film Foundation movie, "Big Wheels and Sailor"; the haunting Arabic-inspired soundtrack he composed for "Voices In Exile", the highly praised Channel 4 TV documentary first screened in 1998; and a seven month spell in 2001 at the National Theatre in Nicholas Hytner's outstanding production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale"; and you get some idea of his versatility and eagerness to explore new musical avenues.