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 www.lorileecraker.com.
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, roaddogrunner.com. 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.”