Dennis McGregor, a longtime mainstay of Sisters' cultural scene, will celebrate the release of his new album with an intimate house concert Saturday night.
“Behind The Beat, Below The Note” is McGregor's third solo album of original material, which he describes as “quirky yet soulful,” with a heaping helping of his well-known wit. It was recorded at Ridgetop Sound in Aptos, Calif., during March and April, with help from Sisters musicians Brent Alan and Patrick Lombardi, plus Phil Salazar and the band that backs Sisters-fave folk singer Keith Greeninger.
McGregor had a solid team around him, but he's no musical slouch himself. He's a native Californian who got close to making the big time in the 1970s with his “acid swing” band Natty Bumppo, before that band fizzled. After a decade away from music, McGregor's move to Sisters 20 years ago rekindled his interest in playing music for people.
Since then, he's become a familiar face on the town's live-music scene, recognized not only as a top-notch performer and tunesmith (he won the Sisters Folk Festival's 2003 songwriting contest), but also as the guy who draws those great posters for events such as the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Sisters Rodeo and the folk fest.
Now, he's ready to unveil his newest work, which features an eclectic lineup of instruments, including stand-up bass, clarinet, fiddle, electric guitars, drums and organ, plus what McGregor calls “moments that cannot be predicted or orchestrated.” To wit:
“On ‘Money In Jesus,' a hilarious gospel romp about a guy who thinks he can get rich as a preacher as soon as he gets out of prison, there is a break that was to feature speaking in tongues,” McGregor wrote in an e-mail. “None of the backup singers had ever actually done that or even heard it done, but by around three in the morning, everyone was adequately ‘booted with liquid' and a chorus of tangled tongues came out like a miracle.”
It's that kind of satisfying story-spinning that makes McGregor's shows worth seeking out. And he'll have plenty of time to entertain Saturday; while he often plays with a band, this show will be a solo affair, with a set list full of old favorites and songs from the new record.