Archive for September, 2010


admin | September 20, 2010 in Music,WordSmatter | Comments (4)

Fair season. Winter is done. Spring is here, and summer is starting to peek around the corner.

With fair season…comes fair food. We’ve played a lot of fairs and festivals over the years, and we’ve seen some weirdness when it comes to culinary carnival contributions. Some even teeter on scary.

Oh, there’s deep-fried Snickers and deep-fried bananas and deep-fried Twinkies. Beef kabobs and turkey kabobs and “I’m not sure but it must be some kind of meat” kabobs. I’ve heard about deep-fried Coca-Cola, (I’m not sure how that works), and at this year’s Minnesota State Fair, I saw cheerful vendors serving up spaghetti and meatballs…ON A STICK!

So when we headed down to the southern edge of Texas to perform at Borderfest in Hidalgo last spring, the Dippin’ Dots ice cream stand in the lobby of the arena didn’t really seem suspect…until I looked a bit closer at the sign.

“Ice Cream of the FUTUTE?” Ew…that just sounds bad. Not even a handmade sign, but factory issue and mass-produced. I ran the words through Microsoft Word, Spellcheck, and looked it up in the dictionary on my laptop. Nope. “Futute” was nowhere to be found.

I thought about ordering some. What flavors might they have? Ganilla? Slawberry? Rocky Toad? Hey…wait a minute.

It occurred to me that Borderfest 2010 was celebrating the culture of Australia with this year’s festival. Outback Steakhouse is the current sponsor of the “Southern Voice” tour, and as I write this, I sit in my hotel room in Sydney, Australia; we perform here tonight for the very first time.

Of course. “One CROC-olate, please.” Yum.

RACE REPORT: Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2009

admin | September 18, 2010 in Endurance,Race Report,Running | Comments (7)

Well, that’s what they call it now. Last year, it was still the “Philadelphia Distance Run,” though we runners all still knew that Philly was part of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” family, just like the Country Music Marathon held each spring in Nashville, Tennessee.

This year, it’s official; Philadelphia is now home to the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.”

Still the same race. Still the same spirit. The same outstanding organizers, the same historic course through America’s past, the same music carrying runners through both the breeze of the easy and the grit of the difficult.

Okay…I’m making this worse. See, I can’t be there. And I wanna be. I’m currently on the other side of the world in Australia, a day ahead; in fact, as I write this, I’m well into my SUNDAY. The runners that will take on the run in Philadelphia, they are still loading up on pasta, checking their gear, and spending their SATURDAY getting ready for SUNDAY’S race.

I plan to pull up the live webcast online and watch the finish of Sunday morning’s race…but I’ll miss the first part, as we’ll be onstage finishing our evening show as they finish. Yeah…it makes my head hurt a bit; it’s hard to keep it straight. Bottom line – I’m way to far away to run the race with my Team McGraw peeps…but I’ll be cheerin’ ‘em on from “Down Under.”

As Team McGraw returns to the “City of Brotherly Love,” I can’t help but reflect on last year’s half marathon. Taking Team McGraw to Philadelphia, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, with whom our namesake Tug McGraw won the World Series back in 1980…yeah, it calls up some pretty impassioned memories of Tug’s impact on the city.

Tug is still remembered…and still loved.

David Bier after his first half marathon finish. (Cue the music from "Charlie's Angels.")

But there was a lot more “special” from the 2009 race for me. Certainly at the top of the list was seeing my friend David Bier complete the course with his wife and Team McGraw repeater Diane. David is a brain tumor survivor…and a diehard Doors fan. He’s supported our runners through many races, but 2009 was his first half marathon as a runner; I relish each time I’ve gotten to witness these amazing feats of accomplishment in the face of adversity, and he did a great job.

And when I say “diehard Doors fan,” I mean it. The next time I see him, I’ll hear it. “So, have you learned the organ part to ‘Light My Fire’ yet?” Light my fire. No, I’ve not learned it. But you’ve done it, Dave…and done it again and again. Relit my fire for our cause. My fire for this program. For our runners. Thanks.

Genvieve could hardly contain herself in front of the paparazzi as Mark McGraw joined her for part of the race.

Team McGraw’s Genvieve Goldstein set aside some of her duties as a leader of our program and took the streets herself in 2009. If you’ve run with us before, or are on the way to some upcoming marathon with us, you know Genvieve. She knows how hard our folks work, how deep our athletes dig, on their way to the finish line…and she wanted to show ‘em she’d dig along with them.

Dig she did. Attagirl!

Gang signs? Uh, no. "45." Tug McGraw's baseball jersey number.

I’m remembering the gathering of our team and early morning hugs at the tent on race day. The gun and the laughter and the cheers of the start. “Rocky”-dressed runners, rock bands set up on trailers, and the full-blown orchestra set up on the corner that threatens to squash my time by making me stop and listen even longer.

Oh, yeah. The “Rocky” runners remind me. You WILL hear the theme from Rocky more than a few times along the way. Rocky is Philly’s favorite “not even a real person but if he were he’d be our favorite” son. And no matter how much it hurts after the race, you’ve GOTTA go run the steps from the movie at the art museum from the movie before leaving the city.

You guys are gonna have a great race; I know I did. I ran most of the race last year with Tim McGraw’s brother, Mark, and Tom Karpowich. Mark is a great runner and his “easy run” was still pulling Tom and I to better times. We stuck together until the last few miles; he and Tom ran away from me after Tom’s goal of hitting two hours…and I finished with my best time to that point of 2:07:55 for the half marathon.

Mark McGraw (left) and I reconnected at the Team McGraw tent before heading back in after the rest of our team.

After crossing the finish line, we all made our way through the medal and water and bagel and banana lines to get back out on the course to cheer on the rest of our team. That’s the best part of these races: THE TEAM.

It is worth noting for future storytelling…that the 2009 Philadelphia Distance Run was my third “Rock ‘n’ Roll” event of 2009, following January’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona and the April Country Music Half Marathon. I mentioned before my 2009 “quest for immortality.” At this point in the story, it was still a silent and solitary crusade. As concert touring season began for the summer, my quest would have to be set aside for a few months.

The spirit of that crusade would remain, the quiet pursuit of a prize that only I would ever fully appreciate.

At least…that was the plan…

Marathon Walk

admin | September 17, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (2)

We are roughly a month into the “Southern Voice” tour; Tim and the boys have found our groove after the first series of concert dates, and fans are rockin’ the house with us every night. It is good to be back in musical motion.

We’ve rolled through Nashville, home, for only a day, and then it’s right back to the airport.  We are headed to Mr. Sinatra’s “city that never sleeps” – yeppers, New York City – for our March 3 morning performance on Good Morning America. They’re some good folks over there, and we haven’t wandered through their doors since the Let It Go album came out three years ago.

Now host Robin Roberts did catch our show when working on a 2009 TV special with McGraw.  She ran us down in Pittsburgh last September; we were there to kick off the opening of the NFL season, and we also shared one of our last-minute “Bread and Water” charity gigs with her there, so hugs have been swapped and laught have been had.  Even so, it is great to be back in the city to perform and see the rest of the GMA bunch!

Of course, for ME – after running the New York City Marathon in 2007 and 2008, coaching our Team McGraw runners through the 2009 race, and now training for my own 2010 run on November 7 – being in “The City” really has become all about the New York City Marathon.  I just can’t be there anymore without reflecting on the excitement of streets swollen with runners and the anticipation of one of the greatest races in the world.

Our plane touches down, and it’s straight to the hotel.  The boys head out to snag lunch. I snag my runnin’ shoes instead – destination, Central Park.  The NYC Marathon course famously winds through all five boroughs, but it is in Central Park where thousands of spectators cheer on exhausted runners through the last mile of their way to the finish line.

A quick chat with our hotel concierge confirms; “out the door, take a left, then another left and keep going until you hit the park.  You can’t miss it.”  I hit the sidewalk and immediately begin my constant negotiation with the world in perpetual motion.

“Go, no, wait, no…are you gonna go?” The signal flashes “Don’t walk.”  Honk.  “Dude, you’re in the middle of the…never mind.  Sorry ma’am.”  That is my foot, you know.  Hi.  “No, I…hi.  Pardon.  Yeah, is Central Park that…?  Thanks.”  Woah.  That was close.  Seriously?  Am I the only person in New York City going the other way?  What do they know that I don’t?

Am I going to make my way there only to find out that Wally World is closed for the season?  “Sorry, folks…parks closed.”

There it is; I made it.  Central Park.  Walkers and runners and horse-drawn carriages and street vendors and chalk artists and amateur photographers.  It isn’t where it all happens; it is where a lot happens.

But for a marathoner, after all the training and struggle and planning and work and anticipation…Central Park is where it all comes together in a hail of celebration, determination and resolve.

March 3, 2010: McMahon (second from left) is pictured with his band mates Deano (left) and Billy (right) at the news desk for GOOD MORNING AMERICA with host George Stephanopoulos.

I make a few circles through the park for a total of three miles; it’s all I’ve got time for, but it’s enough.  I’ve gotten my taste, logged my miles, and now it’s back to the hotel and to the music business at hand.  Our new single, “Still,” sails out to radio this week, and tomorrow morning, on Good Morning America, we will perform it on television for the first time…and for the rest of the world.

I glance up and catch a street sign on my way back to the hotel: “Marathon Walk.”

I can’t wait for November.

TV Tonight: “Country’s Night to Rock!”

admin | September 1, 2010 in Music | Comments (8)

I still have trouble with that – “The CMA Music Festival.”  Ever since I moved to Nashville back in ’91, I’ve always thought of this annual event as most locals still do…as “Fan Fair.”

Friends from all corners of the world converge on Nashville for this celebration of country music.  Fan clubs are in full force for artists, big and small, beating their drums and waving their flags for their favorites.  Homemade T-shirts, stenciled banners, and jean jackets weighed down by pounds of buttons are everywhere pronouncing love for Dolly or Alan or Conway or Martina.

Or Tim.  There are lots of “I ‘Heart’ Tim” buttons.  Maybe even an “I ‘Heart’ the DHDs!” button or two.

It was great to be a part of this year’s country music extravaganza; we’ve been touring heavily in recent years, so we haven’t always gotten to share in the fun…so it was really great to make it back for it in the midst of the “Southern Voice” tour.

If you missed out on the fun this past June, tonight’s ABC special titled “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” will take you back through many of the exciting performances we shared with our musical friends at LP Field in Nashville in 2010.  The show is set to air at 7PM/CST with Mr. McGraw at the helm…

…and you just might catch a glimpse of one of those DHD buttons…so watch closely!

Visit the CMA Fest website for more details on tonight’s special.