Mac McAnally is undoubtedly music royalty. His latest album, A.K.A. Nobody, has critics, industry insiders and a core of devoted fans buzzing loudly enough that word is getting out about Mac. And it is spreading. Up first was the GRAMMY Museum in Cleveland, MS.
Celebrating the museum’s grand opening in early March, McAnally appeared as an honored guest and welcomed the very first visitors through its doors. That evening he headlined a concert at the Delta State University’s Bologna Performing Arts Center (the same campus where the museum is located). Fellow Mississippi-born musician Sonny Landreth – who also co-wrote a song with McAnally for the album A.K.A. Nobody – joinedhim on stage for the performance.
April opens with a solo performance at Birmingham’s WorkPlay Theatre, and another on April 2 at NPR’s Bluegrass Underground in McMinnville, TN. Mac returns to Nashville April 5 to play the Mother Church, The Ryman Auditorium, with Ricky Skaggs, Ry Cooder, and Sharon White.
For many artists, a solid month’s worth of appearances might not be unusual, but for McAnally, it’s quite the feat. After all, he didn’t earn his record-setting eighth-consecutive CMA Musician of the Year trophy turning down studio dates. He didn’t get inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame by not spending time in the writer’s room. And, oh yeah, there’s the not-so-little matter of being a mainstay in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.
Mac loaned his 1964 Fender Stratocaster for display at the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi. As his main electric guitar since 1973, McAnally says:
“In the summer of ’73 my Mom (who worked at the pants factory making camo for the US troops) told me there was a guy there with a guitar for sale. I had no idea what it was but was interested in all guitars. It turns out he had this Strat and a huge Silvertone Amp in the trunk of his car where he said they both had been for five years. It gets hot in Mississippi in more ways than one so I felt this one needed to come inside. I paid him $150.00 for both and sold the amp the next day for $100. (Wish I still had that too but I needed the money.) This $50.00 investment has been on every album of mine and the majority of the studio work I’ve done on electric over the 40 some-odd years since. The man I bought if from seemed grateful for the money but I have been truly blessed to have it in my hands.”
Somehow in the midst of all that, McAnally managed to write, record and produce A.K.A. Nobody, released on Mailboat Records. His astounding list of co-writers speaks to the esteem in which he’s held – Buffett, Landreth, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, Chris Stapleton and Al Anderson among them. If Rolling Stone hailing the album as “excellent” wasn’t enough, McAnally thrilled music lovers by giving the album away over the holidays. More than 30,000 copies were downloaded from his website. Not bad for a nobody.