Billy McLaughlin and the The Church of the Lost Souls

Missed a Church of the Lost Souls show?

Re-watch COTLS shows here!

Feb 14th with Michael Monroe
Feb 21st with Jennifer and Joe
Feb 28th with Kathleen Johnson
March 7th with Nicholas David
March 14th Laura MacKenzie
March 21st with Jeff Arundel
March 28th with Chris Koza
April 4th with Willie Wisely
April 11th with SOFIA
April 18th with Turn Turn Turn
April 25th with Annie Mack
May 2nd with Peter Mayer


The Parkway Theater presents Billy McLaughlin and The Church of the Lost Souls

The inspiration for The Church of the Lost Souls came from the audience when SimpleGifts performed The Young and the Rest at the Parkway a few years ago. After, numerous encores on a Saturday night, Billy explained “this HAS to be the last song. I have to be at church early in the morning! …or maybe we should leave all our equipment here and all come back and play for you tomorrow! We could call it The Church of the Lost Souls or something and just play whatever music makes us happy!” The audience response was thunderous and requests for this type of show have gone unabated ever since.

Filled with songs of both joy and introspection, this listening room/living room styled show will feature all kinds of new music each week with special guest acoustic artists. When allowed by MN Covid guidelines change, reserved ticket in-person socially distanced seating will allow for a live audience in addition to our livestream. More info will be available soon at and at:



See how the series went on the Church of the Lost Souls Roundup!

Sheet Music Transcripts

Two New Transcriptions Now Available

With many thanks to the talented John Stropes, Clockshop and Back from the Brink are now available at has 12 transcriptions for Billy’s songs, along with 2 backing tracks.  Click here for the complete list.

Billy McLaughlin Live on Stage

Safe Within The Storm – New Video for Healthcare Workers ❤️

Dear friends,

I’m excited to share with you a special video I’ve been working on with a talented videographer, Mark Ellis. Today it premieres at 12pm.

Years ago, I wrote this song about the shock of unexpected loss families go through, of suddenly losing my solo guitar skills due to dystonia, the downfall of my marriage and resulting ripple effects. The song was so emotional for me, I could only perform it once – for this live recording. I really needed to share it that night. I’ve seen my songs experience a second life, when times change, when more lives beyond just my own experience a shock, or when a global family needs to share its message. Videographer Mark Ellis soulfully brings the music into this unexpected and shocking time we’re experiencing today. It is our tribute to all those on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.

My hope is this would bring encouragement to you and any health care workers you know and love who are working tirelessly during this time.

This video premieres today at 12pm (central standard time). Please watch and feel free to share stories of hope and love in the comments!

With love and gratitude,
– Billy



Billy Mclaughlin's Young and the Rest 2020

The Young & The Rest Show Gaining Fans Fast in 2020

If you missed the exciting launch of SimpleGifts new project in 2019, it’s important to know that you don’t have to wait 11 months between holiday tours to see us!!!  We are thrilled momentum continues to sky-rocket for our year-round show, SimpleGifts with Billy McLaughlin presents The Young & the Rest…  An acoustic tribute to Neil Young and the rest of your favorite artists who defined an era and whose popularity endures – Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, America and more.

For show and ticketing information please click here.


Billy McLaughlin, Adam Cord and Macyn Taylor, in concert Sept. 28 in Ellensburg

From the

The Ellensburg’s Learn from the Masters Musical Outreach (LMMO) guitar extravaganza ends with a free concert on Sept. 28 with a night of finger-style guitar featuring Billy McLaughlin, Adam Cord, and Macyn Taylor live in concert at the Morgan Performing Arts Center.

“Ellensburg is a special place,” McLaughlin said. “I had a chance to play the (420 Building) last year and people were hanging over the balcony. It was a great room and great community support.

“I see our show on (that) Saturday night as a continuum of American guitar. I love playing intimate settings like this. It will be ‘Guitar Joyful,’ and a way to showcase a way of playing that’s been around for generations.”

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette said watching McLaughlin is like “… Listening to two of the greatest acoustic guitarists you’ve ever heard,” in its review. The Chicago Sun Times said, “… It’s amazing that such an extensive sound comes from one instrument.” The Ellensburg audience will have a chance to hear the international performer in the intimate surroundings of the Morgan Performing Arts Center.

“I’ve played all over the world, but what I most enjoy is the connection with the people. So to play in an intimate setting puts me right in the center of it,” said McLaughlin, whose first release, “Fingerdance,” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard charts.

McLaughlin’s style of placing both hands on the fret board, creating a harp-like effect on the acoustic guitar. The unusual approach has paved the way to extensive national touring and awards since the 1980s. The internationally-recognized virtuoso and will be joined by Youngstown Symphony Orchestra guitarist Adam Cord and Macyn Taylor, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of guitar studies.

“Adam’s an incredible talent and was with me when we played Ellensburg downtown last year. I really think people are going to enjoy hearing what Macyn can do,” McLaughlin said. “This is going to be a remarkable weekend with John (Stropes, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School’s director of guitar studies) bringing in the Music of Leo Kottke Guitar workshop.

“I mean, 30 people signed up in the first week. It’s going to be a guitar event for the Pacific Northwest with players coming in from all over the country. Then to actually have the legendary Leo Kottke play on Friday while the workshop is going on, then wrap it up with our performance (at Morgan Performing Arts Center). It’s going to be guitar joyful and something pretty special.”

McLaughlin: Finger-pickin’ guitar guru extraordinaire

by Jim Fossett
ELLENSBURG – Few guitarists can transplant a brain into each of their ten fingers – and turn them loose on a six or 12-string guitar to do their own things. Legendary, internationally known guitarist Billy McLaughlin has – and he’s still doing it after pulling off a an astonishing comeback after he contracted a neuromuscular condition that caused uncontrollable ring and pinky finger contractions on his left hand. This unfortunate situation precipitated the loss of his career, income, recording contract, marriage, family and home.

McLaughlin’s comeback of a lifetime

After Focal Dystonia took control of the ring and pinky fingers on his left hand, it took McLaughlin six years to re-learn playing his guitar left-handed. The last four of those years he practiced 35 hours per week.
What did you learn about yourself during those six years? “That as a teacher I had a hard time practicing what I preached, which is practicing every day and being consistent. That’s more important than practicing for just five hours one day a week.
“It was so emotionally challenging and humiliating that the first two years I kept quitting. All I could create were ugly sounds.”
During the last four years, what was a typical day like for you? “As a single dad, Monday through Friday I could get my kids off to school, practice three hours, eat a healthy lunch and practice again for a total of about seven hours a day, including Saturday and Sunday.”
The technique you used to re-learn: one hand and one set of fingers at a time? “I had to work it one hand at a time. The style I developed made it possible for me to work one hand at a time.
“I want to be very clear. There’s a good 80 percent of the music I wrote for two healthy hands that I cannot perform in traditional guitar technique. I have to play up on the guitar neck. It’s unusual but I feel like I’m playing better than I ever did.
“Playing that way, I developed a fascination with percussive elements I heard from Michael Hedges (, the gatekeeper, the master of the modern acoustic fingerstyle guitar.
“Without seeing him play he was the first guitar player to leave me utterly confused and bewildered. I thought, how could one person produce that kind of musical landscape with a melody the way he did it. And once I saw that he left the traditional hand position technique behind, that he gave himself permission to be unorthodox, it opened a door for me to take it in my own direction.”
You’ve got some performance miles on you, so you’ve had plenty of time to transcend music. What has it taught you about life? “Being a composer in addition to being a performer has made me aware that there’s a process all kids and adults can benefit from when faced with silence, or for painters a blank canvas, bringing the abstract into reality is essential to feeling confident we can be creative.
“How this plays out for non-artists, non-musicians and non-painters are concepts such as social justice and equality. Those are abstract concepts we need to make real. And when a musician successfully experiences having an idea in his or her mind, they can share it.
“As human beings we can manifest abstract ideas if we have confidence we can do so.
“Having a healthy art education is actually giving all of us confidence that out of nothing or out of chaos we can create something beautiful.”
If your music is what keeps you going, can you explain why in a way that might inspire a younger person to take up music? “When I run out of words I try to express with music what’s in my heart and spirit.”
What motivational quote got you through those six years? “There were so many. I believe you have to take every bit of inspiration from wherever you can find it.
“Early on I gave up, threw my guitar down and went out for Chinese food. The fortune cookie I got blew my mind.
“It read, ‘Many people fail because they quit too soon.’ I thought what if that applies to me?
“Many students of music do push on until they break through to the next level. Although I felt like I was stuck, that fortune cookie told me I was actually on my way to the next level
“I still have that little piece of paper and I look at it every day.”
If you had to pick one person who has inspired you, who would it be and why? “From the beginning of my journey I saw a PBS program that featured a guitar player I didn’t recognize. He closed his eyes and played the guitar and understood the music without words. That was Carlos Santana, my hero, but as I mentioned, Hedges was the most influential. Why? Santana always had a band completing the experience, Hedges did it with one guitar, much like Leo Kottke. It takes a peculiar outlook to want to accept the demands required to play guitar all by yourself yet satisfy the listener.”
Are you still struggling, maybe every time you come up with a new song? “I don’t know a musician who would tell you they’re not still learning. That drives some people crazy enough to quit their job.
“So yes I’m always learning something new. The more you know, the more you don’t know. That’s so true in music and you can let
it drive you crazy or you can let it make you feel confident you do know how to communicate something inspirational, entertaining or motivational with what you can do.
“Some guitar players never leave their bedroom until they feel they know enough.”
Music is healing. Correct or incorrect and why? “Music has a healing quality whether scientists can prove it or not.”
What’s on your Bucket List? “I’ve been so lucky. My work has taken me around the world, but I’d really love to have a year just to travel, not that I wouldn’t bring my guitar to share my music.  That would be a dream come true.”
McLaughlin ended the interview with this comment.
“I love music because it’s about what needs to happen versus what is happening. And you know, if you do what you love you live longer.”

Billy in China with Fingerstyle Guitar China

Billy and TJ have been in China with Fingerstyle Guitar China for 2 days thus far.  They will be there touring with Fingerstyle until August 1st.  Here you will find updates from their travels!  For real-time photo updates, view Billy’s FB page here.


While in Beijing for his first stop of the tour, Billy had an interview at Fingerstyle Guitar China headquarters, a workshop and a concert.  He then traveled to Wuxi for another interview, concert and workshop.  To finish up his time in China, Billy went to Shanghai for his final concert.

We would like to extend a big thank-you to Fingerstyle Guitar China, Cassandra, Weifang and everyone who made this tour such a success!  Billy and TJ always enjoy their time in Asia and this was no exception.  Enjoying the culture, music and meeting new friends!


Interview with Fingerstyle Guitar China


Beijing Workshop


Beijing Concert


Wuxi Concert


Wuxi Workshop


Shanghai Concert
parkway billy mclaughlin

Celebrating Summer at The Parkway Theater

Summer at the Parkway

The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis MN

Media Notice

Martin Keller / Media Savant Communications
612-729-8585 /


A Rare Summer Solstice Concert from a Group Known For Its Christmas Shows


MINNEAPOLIS — May 27, 2015 — Here’s a switch: SimpleGifits*, a group known for its lovely, harmonious vocals and strings only at Christmas is celebrating the Summer Solstice, two days early on June 19 at Pepito’s Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis at 8:00 p.m.
No Christmas music will be heard.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and available online at the SimpleGifts website Pepito’s Parkway Theater is located at 4814 Chicago Ave S/Minneapolis, MN., 55417/
What you will hear is original music by Billy McLaughlin who leads SimpleGifts, plus songs by The Civil War, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, some Celtic classics and other tunes by a superb line up musicians that includes: Billy McLaughlin, percussionist/drummer, Billy O, singers Ashleigh Still, Torie Redpath and Celtic star, Laura MacKenzie — plus special guest Melody Michelle Duncan, all the way from Mobile, Alabama, on violin and vocals.
“As longtime fans know, SimpleGifts has been hard to find in concert except during the short and dark days leading to Christmas. But this sunny solstice, we’re changing that, based on fan’s demand to hear SimpleGifts more than just during the holidays,” explains McLaughlin who put together the ensemble 13 years ago.
“Now we are finally giving everyone chance to hear us right near the official beginning of Summer, with a an wide variety of material ideally suited to the three-part female harmonies, plus the sounds of strings, piano, Celtic whistle and pipes. It’s going to be a treat for the ears on a nice summer’s eve.”
For more information — or to interview SimpleGifts or have them perform live in studio in advance of the June 19 date — please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-729-8585,
*About SimpleGifts
As long-time fans will tell you, SimpleGifts makes musical magic by bringing a modern flair to traditional Christmas carols and hymns. Staying close to the heart of Christmas by avoiding commercial and pop holiday repertoire has become the trademark of this award winning six-piece ensemble.
SimpleGifts combines violin, Celtic whistle and bagpipes, piano, acoustic guitar and percussion with angelic three part female vocals to create a “modern Old-World” sound. There is nothing ordinary about the arrangements this team delivers both in the studio and in concert. Seen by over 20,000 live audience members last season, this group continues to grow in popularity throughout the Upper Midwest and has successfully transitioned from their early days in coffeehouses and small listening rooms to prestigious performing art centers and larger churches.


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General Electric’s Txchnologist Blog

General Electric's Txchnologist blog

Txchnologist sponsored by GE


General Electric’s Txchnologist blog – Slaying the Silence: One Musician’s Journey to Play Again by Michael Keller

Last week, Billy was featured in Txchnologist, “an online magazine created in partnership with General Electric.”
“After suffering a debilitating condition called focal dystonia that took away control of one of his hands, accomplished professional guitarist Billy McLaughlin was told he’d never play music again. That diagnosis wasn’t the end of his career, though; it was the starting point that led McLaughlin to eventually reprogram his brain and body to play with the opposite hand. Stepping on the stage after a long hiatus, his success is a testament to determination and to the flexibility of the brain to find novel ways to work around major problems, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity…”  …continue reading
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