Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Dancehall Doctor Jeff McMahon Lives Large

admin | June 1, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (3)

Lorilee Craker, a writer for the Grand Rapids Press and author of numerous books including Through the Storm by Lynne Spears (mother of superstar Britney Spears), tracked me down for an interview as our tour buses rolled through Michigan a few months back.  Her article below was originally published by the Grand Rapids Press on February 25, 2010.

In working through the interview, Lorilee kept commenting on the flurry of varied activities bearing my fingerprints; I was  “living large,” she said.  I’ve never really thought in those terms, and my days typically feel more full than frantic, but if I look back at the past three months, I guess I do cover a lot ground.

Since our stop in Grand Rapids, the “Southern Voice” tour has hit 24 additional cities.  My snowboard and I have left our marks in Wisconsin, Nevada, and Whistler, Canada.  I have logged more than a few miles with some of my Team McGraw runners in Florida, Michigan, California and Texas…and the 2010 New York City Marathon remains on the horizon.

The wheels keep rolling, and I keep runnin’.

Thanks, Lorilee, for taking the time to share our new music, support our work with both Team McGraw and the Tug McGraw Foundation, and offer a glimpse into my somewhat restless world…and I’ll see you next time we roll through your backyard.

For more on Lorilee, visit her website at

McMahon (right) and his bandmate/fiddler Dean Brown of Tim McGraw's band, the Dancehall Doctors. (Photo by Kyle Dreier |

GRAND RAPIDS (Feb. 25, 2010) — As keyboard player for the Dancehall Doctors, Jeff McMahon’s been touring for almost 17 years with his buddy Tim McGraw, but when he’s not tickling the ivories onstage, McMahon is sure to be up to something equally exhilarating.

Whether it’s goose hunting in Manitoba, deep sea fishing in Florida, running from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon or serving as director of Team McGraw, a charity that raises funds for brain cancer research and services, McMahon wants to do it all.

“I couldn’t tell you who’s on American Idol, but dadgummit, I’m going to experience some things,” he said from a tour stop on McGraw’s “Southern Voice” tour, which stops Saturday in Grand Rapids.

The 45-year-old McMahon is chronicling his existence-affirming odyssey on his new blog, He blogs about marathons (he’s completed the New York City Marathon several times), his work for the Tug McGraw Foundation, and lots and lots of “road stories.”

After nearly two decades with McGraw, the two are close friends and his bandmates in the Dancehall Doctors are like brothers. Since 2002, when McGraw kicked the Nashville norm by making a record — Tim McGraw and The Dancehall Doctors — with his touring band (as opposed to session musicians), he Doctors have been in the mix, recording the songs they play live. That includes the hits “Live Like You’re Dying” released in 2004 and 2007′s “Let it Go.”

The title track on 2009′s “Southern Voice,” a No. 1 hit, transcends North and South, McMahon insists. “The song is simple, not in the sense of being uneducated, but the core of it: that at the end of the day, the same things are important to people — honesty, decency, hard work and courage.”

“You’re immersed in a working culture, where you wake up first thing in the morning to go to work to provide for your loved ones,” he said. “Whether you farm or build cars, hard work is hard work.”

McMahon, who is single, has worked hard for a cause he’s fervent about: The Tug McGraw Foundation. Named for Tim McGraw’s late father, Tug, who died of brain cancer in 2004, the foundation was established in 2003 to enhance the quality of life for children and adults with brain tumors

The Texas native also leads Team McGraw, an outgrowth of the foundation that encourages people affected by brain debilitating conditions — such as survivors and their friends and family, or loved ones of those who have died — to run or walk a race of any length and raise funds for the cause.

“Whether you walk a local 5K or join us at a marathon, we’ll put together a training program for you that’ll get you from the sofa to the finish line,” he said.

For McGraw, McMahon, and the rest of The Dancehall Doctors, the “finish line” of their 70-plus city tour is a long way away, but that’s just fine with the piano man. He promises fans a rowdy good time at each “Southern Voice” tour stop.

“This is the first huge tour we’ve done without Faith (Hill, McGraw’s superstar wife, who last toured with him in 2007),” he said. (Correction: this is the largest tour we’ve done SINCE touring with Faith in 2007.) “They shared things with the audience that were very different than what Tim and the boys are going to share, let’s put it that way. Both are good, but very different.”

Roll, Relax, Recover

admin | May 26, 2010 in Endurance,Music,Running | Comments (7)

It’s out of my hands.  There’s no treadmill on the tour bus, and I can’t wish us there any faster.  Some drives are longer than others, and when we do finally get where we’re going, there’s music to be made.  Work to be done.


If I can scrounge up a sliver of time for a three or four-mile run, I’ll do a happy dance and call it a win.  If I can’t get more…then I don’t get more.  I got somethin’; it’s all good.

On the longest rides, we can roll from dawn ‘til dark.  Oh, well – no worries, no guilt.  Seriously, if I let an erratic schedule, travel hiccups, and a lack of absolute consistency get into my training spirit…I may as well toss my shoes into the recycler and give ‘er up.

So I’ll just call it “recovery.”  Days off are good, even necessary, and sometimes just watching the world sail by through the glass, ticking off the miles with a cold Mountain Dew reflecting back at me in the windshield…

…that can be good, too.  I’ll run tomorrow.

Timposter Drops Costume and Runs For Real

admin | May 21, 2010 in Endurance,Music,NYC Marathon 2010,Running | Comments (10)

I met him for the first time in Pittsburgh in September of 2009.  I was in town with Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors for the official kickoff of football season – a huge gig – but we also did a small “under the radar” gig the night before at the Pepsi Roadhouse, a small club that we packed out to raise money for charity.

He caught THAT show, and we met in passing. Shot a photo.  I remember he asked me some questions about running with Team McGraw…like he was thinking about it.

Lee Crites. I’ve not seen his show, but I know the story.  I’ve seen the video clips.  He is a Tim McGraw impersonator in Michigan – dresses the part, performs the tunes, and makes a living as a down-home doppelganger.

I love that I used doppelganger.  I crack myself up.  Lee prefers tribute artist; more often than not, I’ve come to refer to him instead as our team Timposter. (Rhymes with imposter.) Yep…after a few months of training and quiet deliberation, he’s signed up and ready to run the New York City Marathon with me and the rest of Team McGraw!

We actually went for run together at our concert stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan back in February.  I had a break before soundcheck that afternoon, so we connected at the arena and went for a short run through downtown.

It was icy, snowy, slushy.  Not built for speed, but for trepidation.  Care was needed to avoid unwanted twisted ankles.  Even so, Lee kept a good pace on our little jaunt.  He’d been training already, and with many months left until the marathon in November, it would seem our “Timposter” was on track for the big race!

It’s kinda funny, though.  He did sorta look like Tim, even when he showed up to run…but not REALLY.  Then again…even the REAL Tim doesn’t always look like himself sometimes.  “I saw The Blind Side twice, and I didn’t even recognize him!” I’ve heard folks say that.  Sure, if Tim’s got on the stage armor…but in regular clothes…

Hang on a second…now that I think about it, I’ve NEVER seen these two guys standing together…just like you never saw Bruce Wayne and Batman at the same time…

No…it couldn’t be.

Valentine’s Day-Tona

admin | May 9, 2010 in Music | Comments (4)

Some greet this day with the loving smell of roses drifting through the room.

I wake to the tender sweet fragrance of hot rubber and gasoline.

Some choose carefully the morning’s soundtrack, a painstakingly selected musical memory that fills the air, reminiscent of the loving moment the two of them have shared…and meaning very little to anyone else.

I wake to the revving of engines and the rumble of automotive anticipation.

Some wake to prepare breakfast in bed, fresh coffee announcing its arrival as its aromatic splendor wafts upstairs to where she sleeps, awaiting the visit from her boy.

I climb out of my bunk, stagger out the bus door, and find stale coffee on a barren table outside where the crowd has begun to assemble…awaiting the visit from OUR boys.

Valentine’s Day at the Daytona 500.  Sure.  When I think romantic reflection, affection, and love, that’s what I’m thinking of – screeching tires screaming around the corner at more than 170 miles per hour around a steaming track surrounded by roughly 168,000 rowdy howling race fans.

Doesn’t everybody?

Okay, maybe not.  But it is a great capper to a very full two-day travel adventure.  Only twenty-four hours earlier, I was slogging through the snow with my favorite stalker at the Red Flannel Run in Des Moines, Iowa. A quick cleanup and it was on to lunch, rehearsal, and then a rocking Wells Fargo Arena welcoming Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors on our “Southern Voice” tour.  Straight from the stage, it was to the airport…and on to Daytona, Florida.

(Jeff Gordon's crew and car are good to go, sharp and ready for the race.)

So here I am, wrinkled and bent after an all-night flight, a two-hour nap on the bus, with bad coffee in hand as I wobble over to our stage o’ the day.  The stage is huge and already surrounded by friends and fans as we arrive.  Winking digital cameras flash their greetings as I step behind my keyboards and try to pick the sleep from the corner of my eye: “Mornin’, y’all.”  Yawn.

Video screens and “Daytona 500” banners provide a stunning backdrop, and a giant thrust out front gives the boss plenty of room to get up close and personal with the folks.  The stage is flanked by ramps on both sides allowing for a race car to be actually driven across the stage! Television cameras begin to plot out their plan to carry our few songs out to the millions watching at home; this is gonna be BIG.

Parked off the side on one of the ramps, a red, white and blue race car emblazoned with “Tim McGraw” on the hood and sides.  Now, I wonder who’s gonna be ridin’ in THAT little cruiser…

After making sure everything is ready to go, our percussionist Dave, our drummer Billy, and I head out into the masses to see what’s what.  Folks are scattered out on the track, just kinda sittin’ around.  What am I missing?  It’s like us having people sitting up on stage until showtime.  I have to ask, and what I’m told is “it gets us all more connected.  They let us sit on the track until the race starts.”

Hmmm.  Okay.

Sarah Palin is scheduled to appear.  I don’t see her.  Harry Connick, Jr. is supposedly somewhere.  I don’t hear him.  So my boys and I take a walk down pit road, where the work before the work happens.  Piles of tires, tons of tools, and gaggles of reporters and fans and photographers swamp the makeshift aisles working their way between cars and crews.  It’s cool to see…but it feels like swimming upstream in both directions…so we head on back to the bus to get dressed for the show.

After all the travel and adventure it took to get to Daytona, the actual show just flies by.  Sure enough, a thunder of a motor kicks off the show and a race car rolls onto the stage carrying Mr. McGraw in true “500” form.  Fans rockin’, engines roaring – it’s time.

“Something Like That,” “Still,” and then “Southern Voice” are the songs that actually make it to television.  (We play a few others warming up for this little shindig.)  A massive flag corps has choreographed a routine for part of the show, so we get to see a little piece of our own show; THAT doesn’t happen often!

After the last note, we are hurried off the stage and back to the bus, which is already running and pointed toward Nashville.  Most of our boys have a more traditional Valentine’s Day waiting back in Tennessee to tend to, and they’re anxious to start, well…tendin’.

I get that, and I don’t blame ‘em.  Still, I can’t help but wonder.  Last year at this time, not content to spend the day at home alone, I ran away on my first ever deep-sea adventure to go fishing for valentines.  This year, I wake to Valentine’s Day 2010 surrounded by race cars at one of the coolest car races in the world.

I can only imagine what undiscovered adventure is waiting for me NEXT Valentine’s Day.

Huh.  We’re a bus.  Gentlemen…start your engines…

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

admin | April 25, 2010 in Music | Comments (6)

(Thanks to JoAnn Boeckermann for this shot from our concert in Des Moines, Iowa.)

“So, on a big tour like this with a star like Tim McGraw…I guess you guys just FLY everywhere?”

No way.  Not a chance.  Have you seen the show?  Even just pictures of it?  It’s huge.  Stages, video screens, platforms, instruments, cameras, lighting rigs.  Take a look around and think about this: when we arrive in the morning, the arena is EMPTY.

Basically…we bring everything with us.

There are a lot of folks needed to pull off the spectacle that is the “Southern Voice” tour.  A lot of buses carry our folks from place to place.  A lot of trucks carry all the gear those folks use to build the circus.

So this show…ROLLS.  To try to fly something like this would be more of a military operation than a concert tour.  Besides, everyone on tour sleeps in between cities.  Each bus is fitted with sleeping accommodations so band and crew have at least a fighting chance of getting some rest before building a new show the next morning.

If you’ve flown, you know how comfortable you aren’t – snuggling up in a plane to the tender touch of the window, or the neighbor you don’t know, or the drink cart that rakes your arm regularly if you happen to have an aisle seat.  Granted, that extra two inches your seat reclines…now THAT is heaven.  Let’s you board the plane and sleep like a baby.

Okay, not THAT baby.  Not the one that the parents fed right BEFORE boarding the plane.  I know; I hear the screaming, too.  But he’s a baby.  I understand.  It’s not his fault.  (But they could have waited and fed him NOW; I’m just sayin’.)

So buses are the preferred mode of transport.  Sometimes, though, there just is no option.  For example, we play a concert in Des Moines, Iowa the night of February 13; the morning of February 14, we open the Daytona 500 in Florida.

According to Google Maps, we are looking at 1334 miles.  Depending on the route, almost 24 hours driving time.  Without fuel stops.  Perfect.  If we drive, we will arrive more than twelve hours AFTER our scheduled performance…and it’s TELEVISED!

Not a good plan.  So after storming the stage in Des Moines for all our friends in Iowa, we head straight to the airport.  A skeleton crew and our band of merry musical men.  Lean and mean.  We’ll catch back up to our rolling compadres later.

Tonight…we fly; tomorrow, Daytona.

Lance Miller Opens Country Music Marathon with Team McGraw

admin | April 22, 2010 in Endurance,Music,Running | Comments (2)

Lance Miller.  We first got to know each other out on the road.  He opened up for us on tour with Tim McGraw a few years back – warmed up arenas full of folks for Tim and Faith Hill on the “Soul2Soul Tour” in 2007, and wound up the crowds on the outdoor stage for McGraw’s “Live Your Voice” tour in 2008.

A great singer, a great songwriter, and simply a great dude.

Lance will be providing entertainment at the Team McGraw “Bowling for Brains” warm-up party on Friday, April 23 before the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon the next morning.  Runners and fans alike will be on hand to eat, play, and enjoy some of Nashville’s best music with Team McGraw…and believe me, Lance is one of the best.

I’ll be out on the road with McGraw in Ohio that night, then on to Detroit for another show; I hate that I’m gonna miss the race, and I hate even more that I’m gonna miss listening to Lance with my runnin’ buddies before taking to the starting line the next morning.

Dang it.

When Lance was out on tour with us, I would often just sit out in the audience and chill, take in his “country as mud” singin’.  Sometimes, I sang alongside him, tossin’ in backup vocals on his tunes – (one of my favorites is “Back in the New School”) – or his favorites by country greats and musical legends.

I’ve been a fan for a long time; I guess a lot of folks first got to know him through his season of the television show Nashville Star, performing and building a national fan base as a weekly favorite among viewers.  “Nashville Star reminded me of what it meant to be an artist,” explains Lance.

Whether you’re running or not, make time to swing by “Bowling for Brains” and give Lance a hello for me.  Tickets and information are still available for this terrific event in support of Team McGraw and the Tug McGraw Foundation, and it’s a great way to spend an evening relaxing in Music City before taking on the Country Music Marathon.

For more on Lance, swing by the Lance Miller MySpace page for a great look and listen into a great artist.

For tickets to hear Lance at the “Bowling for Brain’s Warm-Up Party before the Country Music Marathon, vist the TMF Online Store.

Lindsey Vonn: Skiing Champion at ACM Awards

admin | April 19, 2010 in Music | Comments (5)

The Academy of Country Music Awards are well underway.

Escorts scurry through hallways getting Miss “I Just Won” back to her predetermined seat in the audience after doing whatever backstage “what I forgot to say when I accepted my award” stuff she had to do.

The “I Can’t Believe It” band dances right behind her, not sure where they are headed, but not caring; they’ve never won anything…until now.

Mr. “I’m Happy To Be Nominated” backslaps Mr. “Sorry I Beat You” with congratulations, and he sincerely means every word of it.

It’s country music.  Most of us kinda know each other anyway.  No cut to a commercial before a fight breaks out stuff here; we are all, more or less, friends.

My boys and I are waiting outside the dressing room for our call to take the stage.  One dressing room for a lot of band boys – the girls have their own room – and it is getting a little tight.  So I wander out the door and into the hallway, tired of the nose-to-nose nature of the room…and there she is.

I can’t not speak.  We almost collided as she slunk past our door, a tall blond bombshell, gracefully wrapped in red…without the customary protective helmet and goggles.

I have to say…something.

“Well, hi!  I was just sharing a story about you earlier.  My name’s Jeff; I’ll be performing with Tim McGraw here shortly.”

Her name is Lindsey, she says.  Lindsey Vonn. 2010 Olympic champion.  Skiing’s rock star.  “So…what was the story?” she asks.

I give her the short version, pointing out her early start as a young skier at Buck Hill in Minnesota and my rudimentary experiences as a new snowboarder on the same mountain.  I note that we both finished up our seasons this year at Whistler, hers with an Olympic Gold medal, mine with more speed, sharper turns, and fewer bruises.

At the possibility of my potentially following her footsteps to a future Olympics…she laughs.  “It sounds like you are already on your way,” she offers, and then she hustles off on hers.

She is presenting tonight, and I’m sure that at any moment they are going to…

Tim McGraw band to the stage, please.”

An Olympic Revelation at the ACM Awards

admin | April 18, 2010 in Music | Comments (5)

(Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors are set to perform on the Academy of Country Music Awards this Sunday, April 18 at 8/7 CST on CBS in Las Vegas, Nevada.)

We’re in Vegas for three days. The producers for the 2010 Academy of Country Music Awards have been preparing the show for months. We’ve flown in the entire band and crew, shipped in most of our gear, and maybe even rented a few additional pieces.

There’s lighting people, video people, production people, catering people, driving people, publicity people, media people, newsy “let me have a peek inside of your world with a less than comfortable question on camera” people…and all kinds of other just “people people” that I don’t know WHAT they do.

SIDENOTE: Have you ever said a word over and over so many times, it starts to sound silly, to the point that you begin to wonder if it’s really a word at all? You at least question the spelling? It’s weird. “P-e-o-p-l-e. Okay, yeah, that’s right.”

We’ll have tons of friends at the show. I’ll probably run into Chesney’s guys tonight at some point. It’ll be good to see ‘em. Keith Anderson will be all smiles if I run into him. Blake Shelton. The Rascal Flatts boys.

Everybody that we never see because THEY are out on tour when WE are out on tour. It’s a busy night, bands coming and going, but we’ll run into many of our friends, even if for just a moment.

There will be others there I don’t know. I know where folks are scheduled to sit because of the placeholder cards propped up in chairs with their names and photos. L.L. Cool J. Really? Matthew McConaughey. He’s from Texas, and he’s been here before.

Lindsey Vonn. Lindsey Vonn?

Lindsey recently won the 2010 Olympic gold medal for women’s downhill skiing at Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada…and she’s coming to the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Really. Okay…my night just got a lot cooler.

She’s been on my radar all winter. I already knew of her start, honing her early skiing skills on Buck Hill in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Was watching as she wrestled with injuries. Held my breath as she was forced to debate even competing.

Watched…and rewound…and watched again as she won the gold medal after flying down Whistler Mountain.

Lindsey will be front and center as I man my post behind my keyboard rig for tonight’s performance. She’ll be listening – and I’ll be remembering that MY first snowboarding day this season was ALSO on Buck Hill…and that I ALSO helped close the season on at Whistler…

Wait…”McMahon heads to the Olympics.”

Maybe there’s still a chance…

COUNTRY WEEKLY: Tim McGraw’s Team McGraw

admin | April 17, 2010 in Endurance,Music,Running | Comments (8)

A big “Ya Gotta Believe!” and “Thanks!” to the folks at Country Weekly Magazine for showing their support of Team McGraw and honorary chair of the Tug McGraw Foundation, Tim McGraw; awesome!

The article posted April 16, 2010 shares details on the upcoming “Bowling for Brains” fundraiser and warm-up party set for April 23 in conjunction with the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville the following day. Also included is Tim’s personal perspective on the ongoing efforts of our program and the dedication of the athletes and all those that donate and support Team McGraw.

As the national director of program development for the Tug McGraw Foundation and Team McGraw…and Tim’s friend and keyboardist for seventeen years…I have a special appreciation for our partnership in this effort.

Thanks, Tim; it’s a pleasure to serve with ya.

Click here to visit the Country Weekly website to read their article and learn more about how you can join in the fun next weekend with Team McGraw!


admin | March 22, 2010 in Hunting,Music,Running | Comments (2)

When Jim Ferguson of Great American Outdoor Trails Radio Magazine first reached out to me about his radio show, I was a bit uncertain as to why he wanted to talk to me.

Jim and Trav (Jim’s cohost) talk hunting. Fishing. The coolest gear and the latest wildlife happenings. Pretty much all the “nitty gritty” of the great outdoors. They know a lot; I know a little…and I knew I’d never keep up.

Jim assured me that I wasn’t expected to. He knew that I’d been on a few recent hunting and fishing trips in between concert dates with Tim McGraw and Team McGraw endurance events…and he wanted to know about them.

He wanted the skinny on my Canadian goose hunting expedition on the way to New York City to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman to perform with McGraw. The lowdown on the Tug McGraw Foundation and running a marathon. The inside scoop on our current “Southern Voice” concert tour.

The real story on who taught me to shoot…and the spirit behind some outstanding new adventures in the middle of my musical “life on the road.”

Well…sure…that I can handle…and there is some fun to share in there. So I sat down with Jim and Trav last week for an interview that is currently available on the Great American Outdoor Trails Radio Magazine website. Great dudes, fans of our music, great supporters of Team McGraw.

This was a blast; I think the full interview will be posted for the week ending this Thursday, March 25, 2010…so swing by and give ‘er a listen! Just go to their homepage and select “CLICK HERE TO LISTEN” for the most current broadcast.

(For those that did not catch this interview during the week of its availability on GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR TRAILS website, ROAD DOG RUNNER will soon post my portion of this interview soon…so stay tuned!)