"Mack sings songs of the heart and life experiences with a voice
and charm that mesmerizes his audiences."
"It is impossible to listen to him sing his music and to not feel changed."
When Mack Bailey sings a sensitive song or a powerful song, his
versatility amazes me.
You can tell a lot about singer/songwriter Mack Bailey by the musical company he keeps. Mary Chapin Carpenter sang on his first album - which was produced by Bill Danoff of "Country Roads" and "Afternoon Delight" fame. John Denver once sang with Bailey on stage. And Denver's long-time producer, Kris O'Connor produced Bailey's collection of songs, Through Your Eyes. Three of Denver's former band members played on the album.
Bailey's rich melodic voice earned him the Best Male Vocal honors in the Traditional Folk category at the 1992 Washington Area Music Awards. Four times he's been chosen to sing the national anthem for the Baltimore Orioles' home games. He advanced yet another step toward artistic immortality when his song "High Gear" was featured on National Public Radio's irreverent and wildly popular "Car Talk." He has been called "DC area's most perfect tenor."
Through Your Eyes is a gallery of Bailey's favorite pieces, ranging from "Wades Point," a song he composed as a gift for his wife and was the processional for their wedding, to a remake of Glen Campbell's serene 1988 country hit, "I Have You." Included as well are John Denver's "Eagles and Horses" and Jim Lauderdale and Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Didn't Come This Far." (Lauderdale and Bailey were college mates in their native North Carolina.) Bailey says he's proudest of the album's title cut, which he wrote for his daughter.
While other kids his age were locking onto rock music, Bailey was listening to his father's old Limeliters and New Christy Minstrel folk albums. "I played them all the time when I was growing up," he says. "I just loved their harmonies. I loved how their voices worked together. It was fun music. They just struck a chord that could take me away and make me feel great." Later, under the sway of John Denver's music, he taught himself to play the guitar.
In high school, Bailey studied theater under a director from the North Carolina School of the Arts. When he heard Bailey's powerful singing in a production of 1776, the director convinced the youngster to enroll at the arts school. "I wanted to learn as much about the technical side of music as I could," Bailey says.
Although Bailey would go on to earn his degree at the North Carolina School of the Arts, he transferred briefly to the University of North Carolina. It was here that he got his first taste of club performing, working with the locally popular Blue Moon Saloon Band.
Once out of school, Bailey moved to New Hampshire to become the in-house minstrel for the Mount Washington Hotel. "It gave me a chance to have a different audience each week," he explains. "But I still had a core group of supporters at the hotel."
After four years in New Hampshire, Bailey relocated to Maryland to work as bar manager and weekend entertainer at a friend's restaurant. Here he met the Hard Travelers, a folk group originally formed at the University of Maryland in the 1950s and then reunited for occasional gigs more than 20 years later. Bailey continues to perform with the group and has recorded five albums with it.
Bailey moved on, this time to the renowned King of France Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland. In addition to working as a solo act, he also hosted the "Mack Bailey Folk Jam" series. It featured performances by folk acts that were touring the region. In the mid-80's, Bailey began involving himself in vibrant folk scene in Washington, DC. This led to the recording of his first album, On My Way, in 1988. That effort was followed by Just Another Thursday Night (a live album) in 1990 and a children's album, Friends, in 1995.
As a wandering troubadour in his own right, Bailey has commanded the stages of such famed venues as the Birchmere, in Alexandria, Virginia; Passims, in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Bluebird, in Nashville. He has played many festivals, among them Rocky Gap, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Kerrville, Bethlehem Musikfest and the World's Fair in Knoxville. In addition, Bailey has opened for or shared the stage with such notables as Alabama, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Randy Travis, Chet Atkins, Brooks and Dunn and John Denver. One of Bailey's high points was being asked to fill in for the Limeliters' absent tenor when this beloved group from his childhood played the World Folk Music Concert in Washington.
Bailey composed and performed the soundtrack music for the PBS specials, Block Island - A Gift Of The Glaciers and Smith Island - Land Water People Time. And he co-wrote the theme for the Johns Hopkins Children's Miracle Network telethon.
Each October since the fall of 1999, Bailey has performed in " A Musical Tribute To John Denver," a series of concerts by Denver's band members and friends to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Challenge Aspen and the National Dyslexia Foundation.
Besides writing, performing and recording, Bailey is musically active in several medical and environmental causes, among them Maryland Therapeutic Riding, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Mack also performs regularly in nursing homes and Alzheimer's units playing group concerts and individual outreach. Another joy for Bailey is working with school students on songwriting. He has been instrumental in helping students write their own graduation class song, which one school has used for over 5 years.
Noting both his voice and sense of mission, former Limeliter Glenn Yarbrough dubbed Mack "the next great singer in folk music."
Check out the artist's website:
1. Tennesee River
3. Rock Me Grandpa
4. Hearts Don't Listen
5. Hot Tubs of Tears
6. She Loves An Eagle
7. What Would You Do
8. Time to Time
9. Distant Thunder
10. Potter's Wheel