With many thanks to the talented John Stropes, Clockshop and Back from the Brink are now available at www.stropes.com

Stropes.com has 12 transcriptions for Billy’s songs, along with 2 backing tracks.  Click here for the complete list.

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

 

 

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--nova-starrynight

From the dailyrecordnews.com

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.”

Billy-McLaughlin-Musician
by Jim Fossett
Jim@nkctribune.com
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 (https://tinyurl.com/y564h99j), 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.”
twin cities dystonia zoo walk

Hey Team-BillyMac!!!!

Pretty much all of you know about my battle with dystonia that stretches over a decade. I have not said much or asked you to support the search for a cure even though some of you have done so on your own over these many years. Thank you!
Now, I’m asking for your help – and it’s not just limited to Minneapolis/St. Paul! Please read further:

The first annual Twin Cities Dystonia Zoo Walk will be held Saturday, June 11th, 2016 at the Como Zoo, with all proceeds benefiting the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.

The Twin Cities is one of 12 locations across the U.S. that will host a Zoo Walk in 2016. Last year, Zoo Walks in 8 cities drew over 4,000 participants.
This will be a family-friendly community day at the Como Zoo to raise awareness about dystonia. If you are not in the Twin Cities you can find a list of host cities for 2016 at the “more information” link below.
This DMRF Zoo-Walk is a twist on typical walks – participants are invited to walk as much for as long as little as they would like. No mileage goals or raising of pledge money is needed to participate in the Walk. It’s really just a day at Como Zoo that helps raise awareness for my condition.
Thank you very much for your support of this event and cause!!

-Billy 

 

Join My Walk Team!

If you are interested in participating in the Walk, please join my team by inputting “Team BillyMac” in the Team Name window on the registration page. I’d love to have you on my team!!! You’ll get a custom t-shirt with “Team BillyMac” on the back and I’ll have my Sharpie on hand to sign yours if you want! This is a Twin Cities-only team so if you are registering in another city please just complete a general registration or start your own team.

Registration
Fees: $25 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under
Includes: Access to the zoo, refreshments and a t-shirt
Click here to register
A t-shirt is included in the cost. Selecting a shirt size generates the registration entry fee. We will have your t-shirt waiting for you at the Zoo the day of the walk. Please note that shipping info in registration is part of the billing process but nothing will be shipped to you – just come that morning and we’ll have everything you need including t-shirts, bottled water, energy bars etc.

Event Timeline

8:00 – 9:30 – Gather at the picnic grounds for: check-in and same day registration, t-shirt pick-up, gather with team members, face painting for children, sponsor tables
9:30 – 10:00 – Welcome: speakers from the medical community and the DMRF
10:00 on – Walk the zoo! Simply by being there you will help spread the word about Dystonia!

Can’t Attend but Want to Support?

Donations can be made here and will be matched 100% by an anonymous donor.
On the registration page, select “Donate” on the right side of the page and then “Donate to a dystance event” in the following screen. From there you can enter the event name “Twin Cities Zoo Walk.”

Additional Information

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation
Dystonia

parkway billy mclaughlin
Summer at the Parkway

The Parkway Theater, Minneapolis MN

Media Notice
IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Martin Keller / Media Savant Communications
612-729-8585 / mkeller@mediasavantcom.com

 

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

DRIVEN BY FAN DEMAND, SIMPLEGIFTS TO PERFORM A NIGHT OF DIVERSE MUSIC BY BILLY McLAUGHLIN, THE CIVIL WARS, NEIL YOUNG, PETER GABRIEL, RICKIE LEE JONES, CELTIC TUNES AND OTHERS AT PEPITO’S PARKWAY THEATER JUNE 19

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 www.simplegiftsmusic.net Pepito’s Parkway Theater is located at 4814 Chicago Ave S/Minneapolis, MN., 55417/www.theparkwaytheater.com.
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, mkeller@mediasavantcom.com
 
*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.

 

Join the SimpleGifts Email List

 

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
 
Full featured article on Txchnologist.com
 
 

Serenity Prayer Project - On Location TV19

Serenity Prayer Project - On Location TV19

On Location TV19


 
On Location TV19 – Published on March 4, 2015, On Location TV19’s Local Image interviewed the writers and producers of Serenity Prayer Project. They were honored to be featured in this segment with Judy Skeie-Voss.

Serenity Prayer Project is an ongoing effort to share a musical version of The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr – “God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change what I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”

Serenity Prayer Project On Location TV19’s Local Image March 2015


Judy sits down with Billy McLaughlin, Nate Sabin and Lori Morris Werch to talk about the Serenity Prayer Project.
Learn more about Serenity Prayer Project here.

simplegifts announces mid-year concerts
Minneapolis, MN —
simplegifts announces mid-year concerts

SimpleGifts

As longtime fans know, SimpleGifts has been hard to find in concert except the short and dark days during Christmas. Well, it’s time to change that!  SimpleGifts has THREE mid-year concerts coming up that we are happy to invite you to!

Come celebrate the longest days of summer with SimpleGifts, Billy McLaughlin and Laura MacKenzie at the Parkway Theater. Featuring Billy’s original music but don’t be surprised if a little Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, The Civil Wars and some awesome Celtic classics sneak in! We are excited to share the new summer sound of SimpleGifts!  Get ready for the new summer-sound of SimpleGifts!

Join us in Glenwood MN on March 27th at Central Square for a special night of SimpleGifts with Billy McLaughlin featuring Laura MacKenzie.  We will also be celebrating Summer-Solstice in Minneapolis on June 19th at The Parkway Theater.  All event details are below and we would love for you to help us spread the word!

——

Exciting news!  We just added another concert with Billy McLaughlin in Chanhassen MN on November 14th!  For continual updates keep checking the SimpleGifts website and/or join our mailing list by clicking the button below.


 

Join the SimpleGifts Email List