What do you get when you take a mischievous kid from catholic school and put him on a beer truck delivering delicious Falstaff to thirsty patrons of pool halls, juke joints and honky tonks across the Mississippi Delta?
Luckily for music fans everywhere, the answer is George McConnell.
It all began simply enough, on a road paved with good intentions and gainful employment…
Each summer, when school let out, young George would leave his hometown of Vicksburg for Yazoo City to stay with his grandmother and work at the beer warehouse she owned. After a few summers of ‘apprenticeship’ stacking cases in the warehouse and loading trucks, it was deemed that, by the age of 10, the boy had garnered enough ‘know how’ and ‘beer stacking savvy’ to go out on the road with the big trucks!
Beginning with Lulu, one of the first beer salesladies in the state, and including an all star line-up of the greatest Falstaff, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life truck drivers to ever flip a dogswitch on a shifter, George’s informal education began in earnest, as they serviced each and every grocery store, gas station, pool hall, bookie joint, restaurant, Elks Lodge, Knights of Columbus, VFW post, country club, night club, honky tonk, juke joint and several establishments all named the ‘Dew Drop Inn’ up and down Highway 61 and across Attala county. McConnell reveled in and soaked up the world unfolding through the windshield of the truck and the exotic locales along the way. With the seeds of wanderlust firmly planted and a burgeoning love for every type of music, was it any wonder what would happen to the kid? You guessed it…he got a guitar.
"My dear mother, knowing we were into music, got my brother and I a ‘Checkmate’ electric guitar with S & H Green Stamps she had saved up. It had 4 pickups, a whammy bar and a vast array of knobs and switches. I mean, Hound Dog Taylor would have loved this guitar! It was a jewel! One of the truck drivers, Red Hambright, was the fearless leader of a ferocious R&B, soul and country combo called ‘Little Red & the Reversibles’. Since we had no amp, Red lent us a blue-sparkle, tuck & roll upholstered Kustom amplifier that was beyond cool. Once I plugged the Checkmate into the Kustom and felt the noise…well, it was all over for me. Next thing ya’ know, I was in a garage band with Spike & Vance playing Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon and Bad Company!"
Once over the threshold of music’s slippery slope, McConnell dove headlong and co-founded the legendary band Beanland with some college friends in 1985. They toured cross-country for eight years and recorded an influential self-titled album with the great Jim Dickinson before disbanding. He went on to tour and drink with the world famous Kudzu Kings, open a vintage guitar store called Django’s and play lead guitar with Widespread Panic for several year until ‘released’ from the group. As George put it, "I was hired and fired for sounding like myself!"
Thus freed of all contractual obligations, McConnell has been able to turn the focus back to his original songs, leading to his most recent musical project showcasing two decades of stage experience and songwriting talent. From the lilting country of "Veronica Blue" and "Feel No Pain" to the honky tonk rollick of "Goodbye, So Long", through the Stax funk workout of "Mr. Cropper" to the sagacious journey of "Jaguar of the Mountain", along with the autobiographical humor of "Hey Man" and the ‘in your face’ punk of "Here We Come Now!”, these songs serve as a musical reflection of his lengthy travels, travails and adventures that all began on a beer truck in the Mississippi Delta.
As an invitation to come ride shotgun on the truck with him, George released this latest batch of tunes exclusively via digital download on his fancy new web site www.georgemcconnell.com
. But…. there is a twist. Since George is a bit ‘different’ [read: weird] and thinks he’s SO in tune with this modern digital age [he calls it the ether-net], he insisted on releasing the songs as pairs- "you know, like a real 45 rpm vinyl record.” When asked why, he simply replied, "Because I love jukeboxes." Therefore, without realizing it, George had single-handedly invented the first true "Virtual 45" ™ in the world! Now you too can make history by being the first one on your block to own one of these rare ‘pressings’! Vinyl fans, don’t worry…real 45’s are on the way. And for those who embrace the ease of compact discs and the full album format, there is also a CD, Singles Only
releasing May 12th.
McConnell and his band The Nonchalants play their final hometown show at The Lyric on March 26, then barnstorm across the Southeast leading up to the official release of Singles Only. Midwest dates will follow.
These releases mark the culmination of a lifetime of beer trucks, guitars and jukeboxes…Lulu would be proud!
George McConnell On Tour
Thu Mar 26 Oxford MS The Lyric w/ Last Waltz Ensemble
Fri Mar 27 Augusta GA Sky City w/ Bloodkin
Sat Mar 28 Charleston SC The Pour House
Mon Mar 30 Columbia SC Sudworks Taphouse
Tue Mar 31 Atlanta GA Peachtree Tavern
Wed Apr 1 Raleigh NC The Pour House Music Hall w/ Waylandsphere
Thu Apr 2 Charlotte NC The Double Door Inn w/ Bloodkin
Fri Apr 3 St Simons Island GA Rafter’s
Sat Apr 4 Macon GA The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom
Thu Apr 9 Memphis TN Newby’s
Fri Apr 10 Knoxville TN Patrick Sullivan’s
Sat Apr 11 Greenville MS The Walnut Street Block Party
Fri Apr 17 Tuscaloosa AL Mellow Mushroom
Sat Apr 18 Starkville MS Cotton District Arts Festival
Thu Apr 23 Starkville MS State Theatre w/ Bloodkin
Fri Apr 24 Oxford MS Proud Larry’s
Sat Apr 25 Oxford MS Double Decker Arts Festival
Sat Jun 6 Ocean Srings MS Government St Grocery
Sat Jun 6 Ocean Springs MS Fear Not Fest – The Shed