Tag Archive for: News

20th Anniversary Christmas Tour Dates Announced!

It all started as a quartet in 2003. Carin Vagle, Jeni-Lyn Starr, Billy O and Billy McLaughin played concerts in Milwaukee, Duluth and a handful of shows around the Twin Cities that year. 20 years and 300 shows later, SimpleGifts with Billy McLaughlin is still ringing in the holidays with Carin Vagle, Karen Paurus, Amy Courts on vocals, Laura MacKenzie on assorted Celtic wind-powered instruments, Billy O on ornamental percussion, Enrique Toussaint on bass, Nathan Wilson on violin and mandolin, and Lisa Z on piano.

As one of the larger MN holiday ensembles still standing, SimpleGifts continues to grow a multi-generational fanbase through touring and streaming via online platforms that did not even exist in 2003. You can stream SimpleGifts on all streaming platforms, buy CDs at all 20th Anniversary shows along with new merch, and rumor has it there may be vinyl in the future for the 21st SimpleGifts Christmas Tour.

Special shows include the return of Jeni-Lyn Starr and Heather Garborg Moen at the Parkway only on Dec 17 and an extended-play show driven by fan requests dubbed “SimplePaLooza”only on Dec 22.
















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 / mkeller@mediasavantcom.com


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 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.


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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
Full featured article on Txchnologist.com

simplegifts announces mid-year concerts

SimpleGifts Announces Mid-Year Concerts

Minneapolis, MN —
simplegifts announces mid-year concerts


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!

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


Serenity Prayer Project – Interview With KTIS

Minneapolis, MN –

Serenity Prayer Project - Interview With KTIS

Interview with KTIS

Yesterday, Lori Morris Werch (Executive Producer) had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Pam Lundell on 98.5 KTIS for the KTIS Morning Show with Pam & Andy.  You can listen to the interview right here, or visit the KTIS website.
If you would like to hear The Serenity Prayer Song played on KTIS radio, please leave a comment on their website or email them directly making the request.  The more requests they receive the higher the likelihood of having the song aired.  Thank you for all your help and support in spreading this beautiful prayer!

Serenity Prayer Project – Interview With KTIS


You can stay in touch with Serenity Prayer Project via social media and through our website!

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Purchase The Serenity Prayer Song on iTunes, Google Play & SerenityPrayerProject.com

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Serenity Prayer Project logo

Serenity Prayer Project

The Serenity Prayer Song by Serenity Prayer Project
Billy had the pleasure of being a part of a project that we hope will impact a generation.  Many know the prayer, now you can know the song.
Enjoy the video of The Serenity Prayer Song by Serenity Prayer Project and some thoughts from Lori Morris Werch and Billy McLaughlin.

Buy The Serenity Prayer Song at the following outlets –
SerenityPrayerProject                 iTunes                   GooglePlay

Note from Executive Producer:
Sometimes loss can turn into love, and this is what occurred with our family.   In June of 2013 our family’s home burned to the ground.   Through our faith, the support of family, friends, neighbors, and our community we have been able to rebuild and regroup.  Upon this experience, instead of replacing all that we had before, I decided to try to make a life long dream come true.  I contacted an artist that I had listened to for years and boldly asked if he might consider meeting with me and hearing my ambitions.  He said yes.  I explained to him that my desire, for a very long time, was to take the brilliant words of Reinhold Niebuhr and turn them into a melody where all could hear.  I especially felt that this artist, Billy McLaughlin, would understand and feel what I was envisioning based upon the way his songs moved me.   These words, taken from The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, were first shared with me by my grandfather.  I have always felt that they are incredibly far-reaching and can not only bring peace to those with chemical addictions, but also to those who have experienced loneliness, depression, food disorders, mental illness, physical illness, financial difficulty, discrimination, oppression, and all forms of abuse.   I am currently a graduate student of Northwestern University in St. Paul, MN and working on my Master’s in Divinity.  Through my coursework, I have learned that Reinhold was a Professor of Divinity at Yale University and the words that he so brilliantly crafted were not by chance.   It is in great honor of his wisdom that we bring you The Serenity Prayer through song in hopes that it resonates deep within you and heals what ails you.
May God’s Face Shine Upon You, Today, Tomorrow, and Always,
Lori, Rachel, & Evan Morris Werch

Note from Composer:
When you hear from a friend after a long gap it’s always so great to hear their voice. So it was when Lori Morris Werch called me recently during what was a brutally long MN winter. She explained that she was excited to be moving back into her home which had burned down months ago after we last talked.  “The two things that got me through those hard months of living with my two kids in a hotel were your music Billy and my favorite prayer…..the one that starts ‘God grant me the serenity to accept’ and I have an idea about how to celebrate our survival of this ordeal.”
I said, “Take your kids to San Diego for a week and get out of this cold and snow.”
‘No, we just want get re-settled and finally be home. I want to put the two things that helped me the most together and fulfill a dream I have had since I was little. I want you, Billy, to write a song for the prayer and produce the recording . Instead of spending money on a trip I want more people in the world who are going through tough times within or outside the recovery community to feel the power of those words!”
My immediate response was, “Lori, that’s not what I do as a musician. It’s not really what I’m good at. Songwriting takes a very long time for me and I might not come up with anything to make words that weren’t written in typical song rhythm to flow. Plus those words are so important to so many people that it’s too intimidating so I have to say no even though I’m honored you asked.”
“Well Billy I know you can do this and you don’t have to decide right away. Please think about it and I’ll call you in a week. Talk to you then!”
The next morning I followed my usual routine of starting the coffee pot and doing the dishes so the coffee would finish brewing just as the last dish is put away. I was my usual half-awake self as I dug into the dishes and I just started singing a little melody that was running through my head during the night. As I was putting the last dish away and filling my coffee cup I realized that the words to the prayer fit the melody perfectly with just a repeated portion of the last phrase. The song had come to me in my dream and I was already singing it by my first cup of coffee!!! I couldn’t believe it!!!
I called Lori and sang it to her over the phone.  The project I said no to is here for you now because she made it possible by skipping vacation, convincing a reluctant composer to reconsider, and allowing me to pull together ( with the invaluable assistance of arranger and co-producer Nate Sabin) a world-class group of talented musicians who captured the passion and power of the Serenity Prayer.
If this song resonates with you and the people you choose to share it with, like me we can all be grateful for how Lori chose to celebrate the most awful situation by making a gift of music to share a powerful message of healing with the world.
Billy McLaughlin


To purchase The Serenity Prayer Song and for more information, please visit us at: http://SerenityPrayerProject.com/


Musician credits:

Paul Peterson – lead vocal, bass
Steve Gould – drums
Nate Sabin – acoustic guitar, piano
Ryan Bynum – Hammond B3 organ
Charlie Peterson – keyboards
Lori Sabin – choir
Ashleigh Still – choir
Heather Moen – choir
Debbie McKee – choir
Jesse Larson – choir
Chris Brown – choir
Kathleen Johnson – choir
Jill Erickson – choir

Nate Sabin – choir director/arranger
Zachary Hollander – audio engineer
Todd Robbins – mix engineer
Steve Erickson – videographer/editor/photographer
Peter Wagner – camera operator

Produced by Billy McLaughlin and Nate Sabin
Executive Producer – Lori Morris Werch
Written by Billy McLaughlin and Nate Sabin
Production assistant – Hannah Dimond Day
Mastering – Tim Snow, Lighthouse Records

Published by B A Proton Music (BMI)
Choral arrangement published by Lorilou Music (ASCAP)
Words by Reinhold Niebuhr – public domain

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Join Billy at Andy Mckee's Musicarium

Join Billy at Andy Mckee's Musicarium

We are excited to share with you an incredible opportunity that takes place August 2015!  Billy will be participating in Andy Mckee’s Musicarium August 3rd-6th, 2015.  This is a unique fingerstyle guitar summit hosted by Andy in which Billy will be instructing along side other fingerstyle guitar legends such as Antoine Dufour and Stephen Bennett.  For more information, watch the video and visit Andy Mckee’s Musicarium website, Facebook event and/or Facebook page.
Keep your eyes peeled as we get closer to the date and send out more information!


Information about Andy Mckee’s Musicarium

Welcome to Andy McKee’s fingerstyle guitar summit.

You and a very select group of like minded folks are about to connect with some of the world’s best acoustic guitar players, one of the world’s cutting-edge guitar builders, and the world’s finest string maker over music, friendship, personal mentoring, food, fun, frivolity, and, of course, hands-on demonstrations of the state-of-the-art in acoustic guitar playing. This one of a kind experience all takes place at Full Moon Resort, the year-round mountain resort in the heart of the “Forever Wild” Catskill Forest Preserve.

More information here.

Billy's on YouTube!

Billy’s on YouTube!

We are excited to announce that Billy’s YouTube Channel has been updated and is now fully active with great new videos!  Watch Billy in action in a variety of settings; solo acoustic guitar, orchestra, The Entire Band, and Keynote presentations.  All newly published for your enjoyment.  You can also subscribe to his channel and get updates every time a new video is posted.  Enjoy sharing videos and connecting with Billy!


Visit BillyMacFan on YouTube now!

Billy's on YouTube!

Billy McLaughlin & The Band – Bow & Arrow

Billy McLaughlin – Hold On To Forever

Billy McLaughlin – Guitar lesson 1 of 10

Billy McLaughlin – Keynote for Lundbeck

new keynote topics

Billy’s New Keynote Topics

Billy's New Keynote Topics

Billy’s New Keynote Topics

In the last few years, Billy has created and recreated several popular Keynotes. Ranging from his keynote “Adversity to Innovation”, to “Rethink Impossible”, Billy is excited to announce the creation of more new Keynote topics!
In addition to New Ways to Do It, Setback Before Success, and Making an Impact With All You’ve Got!, Billy now offers Keynote topics addressing Life After Diagnosis and Stop Listening to Experts.  Billy’s most popular Keynote presentations and their descriptions are available on Billy’s Keynote Topics page or by contacting Hannah Day.  Updates have also been made to Billy’s One Sheet.
Click here to download your copy of Billy’s One Sheet

Billy’s most popular Keynote Topics:


New Ways to Do It:  The Road to Reinvention

Billy encourages you to step out of your spectator’s seat and recognize your ability to take an active role in designing the future that you have imagined.

Setback before Success:  Accepting the Challenge that comes with Change

Billy combines solid, actionable advice with exceptional music and an entertaining style for an unforgettable experience that will change your perspective on the challenges you and your organization face.

Doing More With Less – Making an impact with all that you’ve got!

By realizing what still works and what still matters, you can make a significant difference, regardless of the obstacles. Listen to Billy’s story; you, too, will choose to be a “difference-maker”!

Stop Listening to Experts!

Billy’s keynote talk with just the right amount music will help you become the confident expert you know that you are – and show others around you the new paths that must be taken for you and your organization to succeed. Who did Steve Jobs listen too?

Life After Diagnosis

Billy has created this program especially for business, foundations, healthcare professionals, Insurance professionals and individuals who have been affected by sudden, future-changing events. He takes them along with him on a personal journey from diagnosis to self-discovery, which led him to a new and more exciting phase of his business development and career building future.

More available upon request.

Interview with ABILITY Magazine

Interview with ABILITY Magazine

ABILITY Magazine

“At a recent live streaming concert sponsored by the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) at San Diego State University, McLaughlin’s unorthodox technique of placing both hands on the fretboard produced a unique and surprisingly big sound, as if there were multiple guitarists on stage. His music was deeply rhythmic and fluid, his new age compositions intricate and uplifting. Recently, ABILITY’s Paula Fitzgerald spoke with him about his long journey back to center stage.
Paula Fitzgerald: Tell me about the accident that changed your life.
Billy McLaughlin: In 1998, I was on my way to a photo shoot for the cover of my second album for Narada Records when I fell on an icy sidewalk. I dislocated the middle finger and ring finger on the hand I used to play my fretboard. When we finished the shoot, I needed immediate physical therapy because I was leaving in just a couple of months to start a back-to-back, 50-city tour to support the release of my new CD. This tour included a lot of television and radio performances, as well as interviews. I managed to rehab in time so that I didn’t have to reschedule any of the dates, but I still noticed stiffness in my fingers that I associated with the injury.
After the second leg of the tour, the swelling had gone down and my fingers felt normal, but I started to feel something was out of balance. I was still struggling with a couple of my more virtuosic pieces. When you’re playing solo guitar concerts, it’s very embarrassing to have a slip-up here and there. After talking with colleagues and mentors, everyone said, “Gee, Billy, you’re the hardest-working guitar player out there. Take a break. Take a couple months off and let your hands rest.
Read this article in its entirety at ABILITY Magazine.