Mackey's Music Blog

This family is awesome. They wrote a song on my album, Not A Stranger,” with Sam Ashworth, and they’ll be in Nashville on Feb. 12. @

Andy Gullahorn wrote Someone To You on “Tell Me That’s Not Country.” This is one of a few of his funny songs.

What’s Next for 2012

2012 should be a big year for those who enjoy and support my music. I want to people as much as music I can this year with a bunch of live shows and new songs, and hopefully we can build a groundswell as the word gets out and we gain momentum.

I’m definitely entering a promotional phase for “Tell Me That’s Not Country.” Currently, I’m trying to book some music fairs/festivals in Oregon, and a show or two in LA, then hopefully St. Louis and Atlanta. Right now I’m looking to piece a band together in all of these cities, or nail down a small core that would travel with me.

I also sat down with my producer in December and talked about making some new music this year. I would love to keep releasing music as often as I could, even as I travel and promote my album. The goal is to do 6-9 songs in 2012, and release them all as singles so people get to hear new music every few months as I’m recording. I love the process of making music, and I want to keep my shows fresh and give my fans new tracks to download.    

Fortunately or unfortunately there is no 10-step manual for succeeding in the music industry, and everyone has their own journey, so I’ll just keep doing what I know how to do and learn along the way. My journey has definitely given me quite a few stories for my book, though. Yes, that’s right, my book - look for it in bookstores 10-15 years from now (or Kindle store, or however the Jetson’s read books).  

What would you like to see from Mackey’s music this year? Did I leave your city off my list? I still haven’t had a cd launch party, anyone want to join me for that?

2011 Year in Review

To say the events of this year exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. Probably because this time last year I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead to anticipate how much could happen in 12 months. I found out at the beginning of the year that we were having our second child, Solomon, and I was pretty focused on how we would be changing our parental defense from double coverage to man-to-man. 

I had no plans of recording an album, no plans for a new baby, and no plans for living on one income with Melissa staying at home full-time. By August, however, I had launched my first solo country music album, we had a perfect baby boy, and I was having a record sales year at my day job.

My music goals for this past year were mostly activity based: how many shows can I play, how many songs can I write?  I had met with some producers late in 2010 who said they were ready to work with me as soon as I had the songs and the money, but I had neither. I was winding down a huge project at work that had consumed much of my time and brain power, and I really hadn’t thought about next steps for an album.  In May, though, I met the producer that I would end up working with, and by July we had finished and entire album with most of Reba McEntire’s band no less (Mark Hill, Jeff King, Bruce Boudon, Andy Leftwich and Sam Ashworth)!  

I would have never expected to record my album in a world class studio, with world class musicians, and with a world class producer. But what I’m most proud of this year is my wife Melissa and her sacrifice for our family. With all that’s gone on this year, she’s had to cover A LOT at home while I was gone. Not only did she cover things at home, but she did it with excellence. She started her first blog too, http://tidbitsontutelage.blogspot.com/, where she shares her experience and knowledge of early childhood education with Mav’s tot school. It gives other Moms ideas to help educate their kids at home. 

We were Extremely blessed in many ways in 2011. Melissa now stays at home with the boys, I’m at a new job that has made up for her loss of income, and my energy and passion for my music has been renewed. Thank you all for your friendship and support of the music. Hope you enjoy what’s next in 2012!

Conversations with Kix (pt. 2)
   I gave my first acoustic album to Kix as he was leaving the store one day. He accepted, but I could tell he was quite familiar with the “Nashville handshake.”  I never expected him to actually listen to it. 
   
   Much to my surprise, he called me back the next afternoon!  Not only did he listen to my cd, he gave me an impromptu review, even quoting lines out of my songs.  He gave me few things to work on, told me which ideas he liked in my songs, and what I should develop further.
   
   One of the highlights of the conversation was Kix relating his story to mine.  He had been in Nashville for 13 yrs before he even met Ronnie.  He encouraged me to just keep plugging away, and to continue developing my craft.  
    
   He told me he gets cd’s all the time and was pleasently surprised because most he recieves aren’t that great.  He said he liked it, and I have “just as good of a shot as anybody.”  Whether that was good or bad, I’m not exactly sure.  I was mostly just flattered that he took it, seriously listened to it, and was kind enough to call me with thoughtful feedback.
Conversations with Kix

When we moved to Nashville, I assumed the chances of seeing A-listers would increase over where we were in Oregon, but I hardly thought bumping into stars would be a daily occurrence.  

Upon transferring to Nashville, I was assigned to a store in a nice suburb of the city where there is a large concentration of celebrity homes.  During my year in that store, I was able to meet a lot of great names in the music business, including Tony Brown, Russell Taft, Ronnie Dunn, and all the Rascal Flatts guys.

Somehow I became the go-to-sales-guy for the stars.  Most of them were very down to earth folks, and I enjoyed working with them.  My favorite though was Kix Brooks of Brooks n’ Dunn.

I met Kix in my first week of working in Nashville.  At first I was incredibly intimidated by the seemingly serious platinum selling artist.  However, as we started to work out a few of his phone issues, I got to know him better and my anxiety quickly faded.  

It turns out the guy is one of the funniest, most interesting, generous and talented men I’ve eve met, and a committed husband and father.  After certain visits I wasn’t even sure why he came in, but we always had fun talking about the latest and greatest phone coming out (unfortunately, I could never convince him to upgrade).

One day, I finally got up the courage to turn the conversation to my music…

Bringing the writer’s night to you…

My objective in writing this to all of you is to bring the writer’s night to your home.  I love writer’s nights here in Nashville because at most of them, you’ll hear songs that are on the radio that you know and love but from a totally different perspective.  The cool thing about hearing these songs from the writers, is that you get to hear the back story, motivation and/or  inspiration behind the song and it’s always interesting to compare the real life story to your perception of the meaning or message of the song.

This is where I want you to participate in this “virtual” writer’s night.  First I’ve made my song “Tell me that’s not country” free to download at http://www.reverbnation.com/mackeysmusic.  Download the song, listen, then continue reading…

It all started in a writing room with Sam Ashworth, my multi-talented producer.  For six months leading up to cutting the album, I had been writing and accumulating songs from other writers.  I was playing him some of my favorites when we came across a very COUNTRY song.  It was probably one of the songs I was most excited about and I couldn’t wait for Sam to confirm my great find.  Much to my surprise, Sam responded kindly with, “I don’t think you’re country enough to do this song….”

At this point I think we’d only known each other for a few weeks.  Early on, the only time Sam and I could write together was after work. In fact, we were even introduced while I was on my lunch break, so Sam’s perception of me was built around a suit and tie.

…back to my reaction.  I immediately got defensive and responded, “not country enough?  I’ve freakin’ dehorned a cow, tell me that’s not country”.  I proceeded to tell a few more stories of my country exploits to put the suit perception to rest:) We moved on, I think to write, “Love is a choice,” another song on the album.

On my way home, I thought about some of those stories and laughed to myself uncontrollably…which I’m sure was quite a sight for all the other drivers.  By no means am I a Chris Ledoux cowboy, but I had a wonderful time growing up going to rodeos, bucking hay in the summers to earn some money, shooting guns up in the mountains and on my Dad’s property, and so on.  I thought, wouldn’t it be great to be able to put all of this in a song…

I left it at that for a few weeks because we were really busy recording the first five songs on the album.  Once those got wrapped up, we were trying to finalize the second set of songs but were a few short.  At that point I revisited the idea and pitched the concept to Sam.  The title would be “tell me that’s not country,” a song about everyone who has ever cheered for the cowboy hero in a western, driven a truck down a dirt road or enjoyed some target practice with a .22 and a coke can.  In true Mackey fashion, this pitch took place the day before we were supposed to record, but Sam liked it and we started writing. We didn’t finish it that day, but Sam wrote an amazing guitar lick that we built the music around. We had the hook, “tell me that’s not country” and we just recorded the music hoping the lyrics would come before I did vocals the following week.

Sam ended up pulling his dad in to help with the lyrics, given his experience with the content and his amazing writing talent.  My task was to accumulate as many “country” stories as I could to send over so Sam and Charlie could work their magic.  I immediately called my mom, dad, brothers and sisters seeking any stories I’d forgotten and had a blast talking to them about the old days.  I wrote every story I could come up with over the next several days and sent them over.  I got the final lyrics the day before I had to sing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I had a wonderful time working with Sam and Charlie on these songs and cannot thank them enough for their contributions.  It was truly a collaborative process, and we all got to know each other better along the way.

Back to the interactive part…now that you know the story, go back and listen.  I’d love any feedback you might have on the song and/or this post.  I hope you all had fun.  Enjoy the free download!

Thanks,

Mackey

Tell Me That’s Not Country

Written by: Sam Ashworh, Charlie Peacock and Mackey Roberts

The making of a stage name…

Ok folks, after years of considering the use of a stage name, I’ve finally come to a conclusion. Before I unveil the name, I’ll give you the back story on how I came to this decision… My dad’s name is Robert, but everyone called him Mac. When I was born, my dad wanted to name me Robert also, to which my mom agreed, on the condition that I could be called something else, and that became “Mackey.”

As for my last name, when I was young, I had to make up a song to spell it. You have to admit, McClenathan is a doozie when it comes to spelling, pronouncing and googling. Waiters, substitute teachers, employers, etc. have been butchering it my whole life with such variations as “Mecklanathan”, “Mellonthower” and the infamous “McC…….”. Could I really expect people to be able to pronounce, remember and google my last name? And could it actually fit on a CD cover? I took a poll on facebook, and most people voted for Mackey McClenathan. However, a lot of those voters were people who have known me as Mackey McClenathan my whole life and probably had the same trouble I had with separating me from that name. It was interesting to see that most of my newer friends were the ones who voted for the other options, a lot of other options!

I was born Robert Gerald McClenathan, though most people know me as Mac or Mackey. I’ve always tried to distance myself from my full name because it sounded too distinguished for someone as simple as me. While working with the photographer and designer of my album cover, the topic of my last name and how difficult it was to pronounce came up again.  After 10+ years of considering a stage names, I had some options ready to fire, but I had a new idea to try and spin something out of the meaning of my real name Robert.  I had never known the meaning I hopped on my phone and googled it;). I found that Robert meant “bright fame.” I’m not talking about the fleeting kind of fame, but a bright fame, a platform that can be used to give glory to the only One who deserves it.  The more I thought about it, the focus moved from a branding question to the development of a mission statement.  For some reason, I had never simply added an s to Robert, making it a more acceptable last name, Roberts.  At this point, it came down to Mac or Mackey.  Because the idea of a stage name was largely web related, I checked to see if anyone owned www.macroberts.com.  It was taken. Nervous that my name search would be in vain, I checked www.mackeyroberts.com and was wide open…so there you have it…I am officially Mackey Roberts in the music world, but will always be Robert Gerald McClenathan, or Mackey McClenathan ;)