DOWNLOAD NOW! “Please Come Home For Christmas” Single Benefits Charity

admin | December 15, 2012 in Music | Comments (1)


In the spirit of the holiday, I share my version of this holiday classic in support of the Tug McGraw Foundation and its mission to improve the quality of life for those confronting brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress.

Available now on both iTunes and CDBaby, a portion of the proceeds from this single will benefit programs for the Tug McGraw Foundation, the nonprofit founded by Philadelphia Phillies pitching legend Tug McGraw. I first came to serve this organization through my friendship with Tug’s son, country superstar Tim McGraw, with whom, as keyboardist and vocalist, I have both toured and recorded such hits as “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Real Good Man,” and “She’s My Kind of Rain.”

As I continue my musical journey, both pursuing individual projects and most recently completing a concert tour with “American Idol” finalist Josh Gracin, I am proud to still serve the Tug McGraw Foundation as board chair and director of the Team McGraw endurance fundraising program…and I am happy to share this with all of you.

Embrace the season, thank you for sharing…and Merry Christmas.

Jeff McMahon signature

Leap Day: My Launch into 2012

admin | February 29, 2012 in Endurance,Music,Running,WordSmatter | Comments (9)

LEAP DAY: the one extra day we are given every four years so the world can catch up on itself.  Typically, Earth has 365 days to make her yearly journey around the sun; even so, we snag an extra day every fourth year so the world can make her way around…and we can reset the clock.

February 29th is a day we rarely see, so it seems I should make the most of it – use it to its fullest – and get some of these random things circling my world back under control.

If only I knew what some of these random things actually were.

Now, we’ve all heard it: “Look before you leap.”  Normally, I’d agree.  (Those that know me well are laughing; “Yes, he would.”)  It makes sense to check the course and scout out the unknowns ahead, before launching off in the wrong direction and ringing a bell you can’t, well, un-ring.

That being said, things are a bit foggy around here.  It’s hard to see what’s around the corner, and though I’d like to know a bit more about what’s in front of me before launching off…I’m tired of waiting.

So, I’m just gonna have to get good with not knowing.  Pieces of what’s ahead, I’m sure I’ll recognize.  Adventures peppered with big chunks of “I didn’t see that coming!” and “Wow! Who knew?” may well catch us all by surprise, but it’s time to get these feet churning.

Okay.  Here…we…GO!

(“The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything.” - U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt)

Book Club: “Endurance”

admin | October 11, 2011 in Endurance,WordSmatter | Comments (6)

At the time, book clubs were completely foreign to me. I had never been a part of one, didn’t know anyone that belonged to one, and I’d never been hit over the head with one. If anyone I knew had secretly been a member of some clandestine literary collective…they had remained faithfully discreet.

The first rule of Book Club is – you do not talk about Book Club.

I am a reader, though, and I was curious. What do they eat? Where do they meet? If two members find themselves in heated combat over an autographed edition from Oprah’s Book Club, who gets the novel…uh…novel?

The opportunity to discover the feeding…or rather…the reading habits of a local group presented itself through an advertisement in the local paper. There would be a gathering at a nearby bookstore in just a few days. The group would be discussing that month’s selection, Endurance by Alfred Lansing.

I knew the book well. It’s a favorite of mine. Cool. I wouldn’t have to study, and I could participate if need be. The perfect opportunity to explore the group’s inner workings, without painting myself as an outsider.

Endurance seemed an odd choice for a book club to me. I had just assumed the group would be primarily women, and I thought this was more of a “guy’s” book. It chronicles the survival story of twenty-eight men on a doomed expedition to Antarctica in 1914 – a remarkable story.

Losing their ship to crushing glaciers. Waking in the middle of the night as cracks run through the ice supporting their tents in sub-zero temperatures. Fighting through ravaging hunger as they sought their next meal in seemingly barren wastelands.

What enabled these men to carry on in such dire circumstances? How did their leader, Ernest Shackleton, inspire his men to follow him in potentially hopeless situations? From where did they gain the fortitude to carry on, reaching new heights of cooperation as they left no man behind?

Lots of testosterone. Didn’t seem like the cup of tea a group of women would order. “Or maybe,” I thought, “I’m just wrong and it won’t be all women.”

Well, it wasn’t all women. Because I was there. But they had each read the book, and most were especially impacted by the tremendous heart and fortitude the men in this true account displayed as they persevered through unbelievable circumstances. This book, written from the diaries of the explorers themselves, had been chosen specifically and deliberately, and it had made an impression.

One woman in particular was held in awe by a revelation. “They never really talk about getting sick in the book,” she said. “Not a cold or anything. Do you think that’s because, since it was so cold, that there aren’t any germs or anything up there to make them sick?”

I just closed my eyes and hung my head. I suppose it’s possible. Or maybe it’s because, I don’t know, because after fighting through hunger and despair and fear and triumph…they didn’t stop to write about having the sniffles in their diaries.

“Dear Diary: still hungry. No food. The ship is gone and we are alone, left to wander and wonder when, if ever, we’ll get home. On top of that, if you can believe, my nose is kinda runny. And then, that new sailor we hired at the last minute has the same fur-lined boots as me? I’m, like, so mad at him. And that jacket? SO last season.”

Club me now.

Carry On: A Reflection on 9/11

admin | September 11, 2011 in Music,WordSmatter | Comments (10)

On September 11, 2001, I was preparing to fly to New York for a television performance with country superstar Tim McGraw and his band, the Dancehall Doctors; that appearance was cancelled as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers – what we now have come to refer to simply as “9/11.”

In 2002, I did travel to New York City for that postponed performance with McGraw. While there, a collection of his band and crew went to “Ground Zero,” the site of the tragedy, to gain some personal perspective on the events that had changed the nation so dramatically just one year earlier.

In recognition of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, I share my personal account of that experience as it was originally published in the “From the Road” column of Tim McGraw’s official website in 2002.


With so many looking back on the past year and the effects of the events in New York City, I thought it perhaps appropriate to include some of our experiences as we visited Ground Zero earlier this year. At the time of the attack, the DHDs (Dancehall Doctors) were preparing to leave for New York for a television appearance which was subsequently cancelled. All of the DHDs were in Nashville at the time, with the exception of Denny Hemingson, who was in Boston.

“I was on vacation in Boston with my wife,” said Denny. “We were supposed to fly home to Nashville from Boston on September 11. We were packing in the hotel, watching the news, preparing for our flight on American Airlines. We were ready to head to the airport, and we saw the planes fly into the towers on television. I knew when the second plane hit that this was some kind terrorist thing or something. At that point, everyone was calling my cell phone to see if we were still alive. We stayed an extra day, scrambled around and found a rental car, and drove home to Nashville from there. Everyone around us was trying to get home, but it wasn’t like they were headed home to take care of business.”

Denny continued. “That day…how quiet. Boston was so…quiet. We went to a store and they had grounded all the planes…just military jets in the air. Nothing else. Cops checking buildings out everywhere…but other than that, the streets were empty.”

Tim and the DHDs did later make a trip to New York for a rescheduled performance months later. While in the city, the DHDs made the journey to Ground Zero. We wanted to see for ourselves the impact on the geographical and emotional landscapes of New York City and the world.

Taking the subway, we were immediately struck by the amount of people that were NOT on our train. Only a few locals shared our train with us; instead of being caught up in the bustle of New York City life, we essentially had the car to ourselves. In the past, the trains running to the financial district were always busy.

But not this time. Now things were much quieter. We could not help but reflect upon what had caused this shift in the lives of so many.

We arrived at our stop and made our way to Ground Zero. Much of the area was barricaded and zoned to protect citizens from intruding upon the cleanup efforts. We were led along wooden walkways toward a viewing platform, and we could not help but notice the messages and drawings that others had left along the walls, chronicling their love and support for those lost.

From the platform, the cleanup and construction was in full view. We could better understand the expansive nature of the event, seeing for ourselves how big the void was. It also became much clearer how this could affect so much in the surrounding area.

“Man, we could have been there,” said DHD Dave Dunkley. ” We were flying in for ‘The Rosie O’Donnell Show’ the next day. We would have been only a few blocks away.”

“When you looked across the area where the buildings had been, the reality was so much bigger than I expected,” shared DHD Denny Hemingson. “But even more amazing to me was the impact some blocks away. There was a clothing store that, months later, still had clothes in it covered with a thick layer of dust. They had just put a sheet of plexiglass over them and left them. As much as I had seen on television, I understood even more how immense this really was.”

Some of our boys had visited the Trade Center towers in earlier years, long before the attacks.  “In 1977, I participated in a ‘Battle of the Bands’ on the roof of the Trade Towers,” said DHD John Marcus. “Our rock band at the time performed on the helipad overlooking the city…and now it looks like a parking lot. I was particularly saddened as I remembered looking over New York City from the roof…and now it’s gone.”

Adjacent to the cleanup site was St. Paul’s Chapel. Built in 1766, this church miraculously escaped damage on September 11, while many of the surrounding buildings suffered significantly. For the following eight months, this church would be instrumental in supporting the crews and workers of the relief efforts.

The fence and surrounding walls of the chapel had become a home for the tributes and memories for all of those left to suffer as a result of this tragedy. In contrast to the actual clearing and construction, the gifts and notes left here brought home the passion and love inspired by this event. Photographs, banners, flowers, a child’s doll…all of these decorated the sidewalks. Messages and poetry adorned the walls from all different countries and in all different languages.

“What really got me was realizing the magnitude of how many people were really involved in what happened,” said DHD Darran Smith. “When I looked at the site, I saw the trucks, the machinery, the construction. I didn’t think about the people. But when you look at the wall…it was…wow.”

For everything we witnessed on that day, one moment stood out for many of us. While we filed along the walkway of the viewing platform, we saw two local firefighters standing along the barricade. Just watching. They had their backs to us, and we couldn’t even see their faces. We didn’t have to.

Our drum tech, Joey Supak, caught this poignant moment on camera and told us the story. “I didn’t know who they were. I just grabbed the shot. I just thought it was so amazing to see how intent they were on what had happened.”

Later in the day, Joey spoke with the two men. “They told me that they came there every day. A lot of guys they knew had gone into those buildings. They came every day to just watch and remember…kind of a tribute to their friends that had perished when the towers came down.”

DHD Darran Smith also took notice. “Those two firefighters looking over the site…by themselves…that really got me…gave me chills,” he remembered. “It makes you realize that all that stuff you hear about ‘the brotherhood’…I mean, who knows how personally they were involved in the tragedy?  But you could see the loss…just watching them.”

As we approach the anniversary of last September’s tragic attacks, we recall those happenings and how they have affected each of us. In some ways, we have moved on from the tragedy of that day. In other ways, we should never let go of what those events have taught us to treasure.

I am glad that we have come to celebrate our firefighters, policemen, and emergency workers. American flags are still flying, not because of a holiday, but because of the inspiration to express our patriotism. There is a greater respect for the military that serve this country. We have a greater appreciation for those we love and a greater understanding of what is important.

These are things to celebrate, and as we remember those that still suffer from the events of that day, my hope is that we continue to celebrate them.

Nobody ever said that life was gonna be fair

You’re never gonna get nowhere by running scared

If you look down deep inside you’ll find the faith to make you strong

Carry on

(From the song “Carry On,” written by Mark Collie, Even Stevens, and Hillary Kanter, and recorded by Tim McGraw)

Runners Save With “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

admin | May 31, 2011 in Endurance,Music,Running | Comments (3)

Those of us that know the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons and half marathons, we understand the excitement of sharing a great day of running with thousands of others, hearts beating in unison with pounding feet, all to the rhythm of the thumpin’ band around the next corner.

In honor of National Running Day on Wednesday, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series is offering a one-day registration discount. In addition to great savings on their events, all those registering on June 1 will also receive 5 FREE music downloads…so they can rock to their favorite music along the course.

(Click here for complete details from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series website.)

They are all great, fun races; in fact, I plan on snagging my first Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego medal this weekend. So check your calendars, pick your favorites, and sign up tomorrow!

As for those 5 FREE downloads, I suggest perhaps your five favorite songs from Tim McGraw’s Southern Voice album. As both a runner and McGraw’s longtime keyboardist, I know it’s great music for a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathoner.

Then again…maybe I’m a bit biased.

Memorial Day

admin | May 30, 2011 in Military,WordSmatter | Comments (67)

(Photograph provided by Major Dave Bingham of the I-10 Attack Battalion when stationed in Iraq.)

On this day of remembrance, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our servicemen and women that have bravely laid down their lives in the name of freedom and compassion.

They have served to defend those unable to defend themselves.  They have served to provide liberty for those that have seen their liberty denied.  They have served in response to hardship, oppression, catastrophe, disaster, and death.

In wars and conflicts spanning the globe, they have answered the call and responded, putting first their fellowman.  As Americans, they have served on my behalf…on our behalf.

They have given their lives through their service.  Customarily, it is on this day, Memorial Day, that we remember them and pay tribute to those that have given so selflessly.

In humble gratitude and reverence, THEY ARE REMEMBERED.

A Runner Goes Forth

admin | March 28, 2011 in Endurance,Running,WordSmatter | Comments (9)

“Plow ahead.”  “Rock on.”  “Keep on truckin’.”  There are many different versions of this handy little catchphrase that drive us through life…drive us down bumpy roads, past unplanned inconveniences, through unexpected turmoil.  We’ve all been there.

The endurance athlete…lives there.  Thrives there.  Belongs there.

Now, when confronted with all the crap that seeks to derail us on our journeys, both in our lives and in our training, some just want to distract themselves.  They chat with friends during their runs, they hide in their iPods, some just stick to their trusty treadmill behind the TV.

“Don’t think about the soreness,” some suggest.  “It takes my mind off what’s bothering me,” chime others.  “I just get bored,” I’ve heard.  The idea is to not think about what is confronting you – pretend it’s not there or take your mind off of it – and keep rollin’.

Of course, I do understand the camaraderie between runners.  I love getting out there with my runnin’ buddies, and I will sometimes take to an untrafficked path with Marine Corps cadences ringing through my ears as a pacing exercise.  It’s not that this is always bad; not in the least.

But I just can’t move forward by pretending what’s behind me…isn’t.  That’s not for me.  I don’t work that way, not in life and not in my running.  I can’t win…hell, I can’t even fight…my pulled muscles and broken past if I have to put it all out of my mind to get started.  I learn nothing from running around the fire; I learn from running through it.

That’s where I feel the greater sense of execution and fulfillment.  Not in moving forward, pretending that hurts don’t hurt or heartbreak doesn’t happen…but doing so with the threat of that past agony and misery in full view…and moving forward anyway.

I was reminded of this on the morning of January 1, 2011 after finishing the New Year’s 5-Mile Run at White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas.  Surrounded by runners, shaking out the holiday cobwebs, it was a way to dig my spurs into my own sides and get this horse out the door and into a new year.

I ran hard and finished strong, gettin’ a little completion buzz from a race well run.  As I walked off the run, catching my breath, glad to have the new year rollin’, the street sign on the corner caught my eye.

I was standing on the corner of Northwest Highway and…Goforth.

Goforth.  Go…FORTH.

It’s what we do.

2011: Running Resolutions in Review

admin | February 3, 2011 in Endurance,Running | Comments (5)

I’ve fallen into that trap before.  Placed the bar too high right out of the gun.  Made a big noise.  Determined how I was gonna change the world – (at least, MY world) – shouted it from the rooftops, and then watched it wash away in a swirl of uncontrolled zeal and “not-quite-thought-out” ambitions.

This year…yeah, I set some new goals;  I just got busy before I got noisy.  Figured I’d use January to try and sharpen my training goals a bit…and then share ‘em.


I’ve raced twice this year already.  The first was a “kick off the year” five-miler in Texas on New Year’s Day; the second was a pretty encouraging half marathon among many of my rockin’ friends at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon.

But that’s racing.  I did say training.  I want to get out every day.  Period.  It feels good to get moving, and while there will be a minimum expectation, I’ll push that up through the year.  Most days will be running, but some will be on a bike, some might be a good walk on a recovery day…but always something.  That’s the plan.

My friends John “The Penguin” Bingham and Jenny Hadfield helped that along with their “100 Days Challenge” campaign.  Basically, they have asked their endurance friends to make a commitment to take on some kind of activity for at least thirty minutes every day.  I don’t think I needed that hammer to meet my personal goals, but I’m using it to keep myself honest on less motivated days.  It works.



This, I’m awful at.  It’s because I can cheat, or I think I can.  I have a well-used Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch that archives the basics of my running history – locations, times, distances – so I think I’m keeping up.  But it’s not true.  I forget cross-training days that aren’t in my watch, I fail to record terrain or necessary aches and pains for tracking, and I threaten to toss myself under the bus of hypocrisy as I ask the Team McGraw athletes we coach to “always keep a log” so we can help them track their progress and meet their goals.

Currently, my training log is completely current beginning January 1, 2011.



Yeah.  I know.  I know.  I’ve got uncompleted stories to finish.  Training “Aha!” moments to share so you might avoid the potholes I’ve stepped in.  There’s new music coming, marathon miles to run, musical miles to measure, and a backpack full of photos and “maybe they care” anecdotes from other travels and “I can’t sit still” adventures.

So I will do better.  My training is on track, my running log is current, and now, I need to get my blog pumping.

Oh, wait…I just did that.  Cool.  (Points the cursor to publish.)


Runnin’ for the Sheriff

admin | December 3, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (3)

Okay…I guess my pal Shawn is officially a “Deputy Sheriff.”  I have no clue as to what his day-to-day gig is like, but when it hits the fan, I’m sure it really doesn’t matter.

And THAT…I DO know about Shawn.

We met last year, not long after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It was at one of our concerts, and he had gone through hell and high water to get his wife, Chrissy, there.  Tim McGraw is one of her favorites, and Shawn had made arrangements to attend and celebrate his love for her and his appreciation for the strength she shares through her care of her husband.

It was there I began to learn his story, though he doesn’t say much.  His typical attitude is more “smile,” then “yeah, still goin’ at it,” and then “what do YOU need?”

We’ve become friends, and as he has continues to go toe-to-toe in his medical fight, he continues to throw the light on others. When I told him that I would like to run the New York City Marathon with Team McGraw in recognition of his example of spirit and perseverance, I learned more.

His uncle, Marty, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1981, also suffering a seizure, heart attack and stroke.  He survived and is currently a Jesuit missionary in Nepal.

His mother passed at age 67, the result of her own tumor, in 2004.  She never complained, and both he and his father were at her side, holding her hands, as she made her transition to Heaven.

Oh, yeah…and there’s Shawn’s tumor, discovered in 2009.  He had surgery. Went through chemotherapy.  Never stopped to ask “Why, me?”   Treated it and moved forward, looking for someone else that needed his support.

Like Jedidiah Lusk.  A young boy confronting a battle no young boy should.  Shawn has taken up Jedidiah as his own source of inspiration, championing this boy’s fight with unending enthusiasm.  He shares Jedidiah’s story, often before his own, and works to support benefit projects for the Lusk family, even as he continues to fight his own battle.

Shawn never bothered to tell me about the events held in his honor in California by his brothers and sisters in the sheriff’s department.  He didn’t mention Congressman Tom McClintock’s public statements in the Washington, DC house chamber in recognition of Deputy Shawn Webb’s spirited example and the impact he has made on so many around him.

Nope…Shawn told me about everybody else.  The rest…I had to “Google.”

My planned run at the New York City Marathon didn’t happen.   So tomorrow, I will run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon instead.

It’ll get tough.  It’ll hurt.  When it does, I’ll take a deep breath, dig a little deeper, and remember the patch Shawn gave me from the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department… stashed in my pocket and carried through the marathon.

Fight on, pal.

To support my run in recognition of Shawn and his battle, please visit my fundraising page and make a donation to the Tug McGraw Foundation; your donation will help to improve the quality of life for patients confronting brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress.

McMahon Switches Gears for St. Jude Memphis Marathon

admin | December 2, 2010 in Endurance,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (4)

(Race photo from St. Jude Memphis Marathon website.)

“Well, if you don’t run New York, you’ve gotta run somethin’,” says Coach Kevin. I don’t disagree. I’m not totally ready, but I’ve trained up pretty good. Better than last year. I’d hate to let the mileage buildup go to waste, but…well, okay…what are the options?

I look for something close to Nashville. Rocket City Marathon in Alabama? Closed. Philadelphia? It’s closed, too, but I think maybe I can pull a Team McGraw card. After all, Tug McGraw, our namesake, won the World Series for them.

The Christmas Marathon in Washington sounds interesting, bein’ Christmas and all. Then again, what if a field full of of overzealous running anti-Scrooges all lace bells into their shoes? Jingle, jangle, jingle…for 26.2 miles. No.

The phone rings; Coach Kevin has already made the call.

The St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 4, 2010.  He lives in Memphis, and he knows this race inside and out. He’s wired, so he was able to get me a spot in the race through “Can’t Stop Endurance.” It’s just a few hours from Nashville…and he has a bunk for me. Sounds like a plan.

Kevin had planned to run Memphis himself before he got sidelined with an injury, so I guess I’m kinda runnin’ in his stead. I’m Danny Zuko from Grease, sliding behind the steering wheel of “Greased Lightning” after Kevin’s Kenickie gets clocked in the head by one of the Pink Ladies before the drag race at Thunder Road.

Memphis it is. I hope I’m ready. I’m no “Greased Lightning,” but I’ll try not to crash.

“I got chills…they’re multiplyin’”…