John McTigue III

It’s About Time

Drummer/composer McTigue has a long history as a roots-music sideman. Yet on this solo effort co-produced with Kenny Vaughan, he takes unexpected turns as he pairs his percussion with other top roots musicians. The primary participants include Vaughan (on five tracks), pedal-steel guitarist Ron Blakely, fiddler/mandolinist Billy Contreras, guitarist Billy Harvey, and singer/songwriter/guitarists Greg Garing and Tim Carroll.

That expansive, eclectic vision embraces a rockabilly take on the traditional “Deep Ellum Blues,” sung by Garing and accompanied by Vaughan, whose picking also adds down-home sparks on Garing’s original retro honky-tonker “Store Bought Liquor.” The improvised Vaughan-McTigue instrumental “Stockholm” proves a revelation as the guitarist unveils his free-range progressive rock side. “Starbuck,” a minor-key variation on Buck Owens’ “Buckaroo,” reveals Vaughan reaching musical destinations light years beyond Bakersfield.

The instrumental “Soul Shepard” showcases Harvey, masterfully interacting with McTigue’s Afro-Cuban rhythms. Carroll blends raw, gnarly picking with his vocal on the original ballad “Talk to God.” Billy Contreras’s electric mandolin dominates an ethereal, jazz-influenced treatment of “Chopin’s Étude No. 4,” while Blakey’s pedal steel achieves similar instrumental synergy on “The Whale Song.”

On an album where literally everyone stands out, McTigue and his collaborators offer a wealth of inspired performances.

This article originally appeared in VG’s October 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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