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About the Alt-Country Rock Pop artists The McGees
by Sideline McGee, Official McGees Historian


Pancho McGee
Pancho McGee
Describing the enigmatic Pancho McGee is no easy feat, and many music aficionados over the years have indeed died, or at least became catatonic, trying. He is, all at once, a wordsmith of the highest order and someone who must read comic books aloud in order to fully understand them. With his gift for songcraft transcending passing musical fancies, he continues to wield his mandolin as expertly as the FBI runs a wire tap. He plays with a precision and passion rarely seen among masters of the Tiny Guitar, although since he requires that everyone close their eyes when he plays, no one knows if heís really playing or just lip-mandoling. Still, with mandolin in hand and eyes shut tight, he always lays down a perfect track in the studio in no more than 14 takes.

From childhood, it was clear Pancho was different. One fateful night, baby Pancho was laying in the makeshift crib that was the best his penniless foster parents could provide. Channeling some divine inspiration, or maybe just tired of crying, he began tightening to various degrees the strings that held the crib together, and in no time, the crib was in perfect D tuning, and he was plucking the strings, creating music and singing a tune. The words were an infant's gibberish, yet the tune had a bridge. (Purists note that this song would one day become "You and I.") A few years later, Pancho fashioned his first mandolin out of crepe paper and melted-down Ju-Ju-Bees, and became virtually unstoppable. With his mandolin stuck to him like Yoko to John, it wasn't long before the songs started coming out of him at an alarming rate. When the town gastroenterologist could offer no explanation, Pancho accepted this as his fate, and dedicated himself to the art of Song.

As a philanthropist he shines as well, spending most holidays serenading orphans and spreading goodwill while never accepting so much as a nickel in return. While other musicians worry only about merchandising, licensing, cross-collateralization, mechanical rights and royalties, Pancho cannot be bothered with these matters, for his heart lies in only one thing -- his music. By the way, this came as wonderful news to Lefty and Cousin, who happily split the band's merchandising, licensing, cross-collateralization, mechanical rights and royalties 50-50.


Lefty McGee
Lefty McGee
Lefty's left hand was up to no good, and the right one thought twice about turning him in. But that would prove nothing, the right hand reasoned, and begrudgingly it looked the other way. Lefty's right hand had a mind of its own, yet took great pride in its ability to work in conjunction with the left hand, especially where tightened catgut was concerned. Guitar strings were what the right hand lived for, and Lefty knew it. His right hand would sometimes complain to him in the form of cramps or blisters, as if somehow saying "you might be Lefty, but without me you're nothing." And Lefty would hear this and lavish his right hand with all sorts of hand creams, lotions, and what he liked to call "a special protective glove", which was nothing more than his girlfriend's old discarded oven mitt he rescued from the garbage one night when she was fast asleep. But it did the job and kept the right hand warm, happy and quiet.

Lefty was always doing things like that. Things that made no sense except to him, and to you after you get to know him. And since Lefty speaks mainly through his guitar (and makes funny Charlie Callas-like faces when doing so), it's hard to understand him, let alone get to know him. I ran into Lefty a while back in the shadows of Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he was picking some Django Reinhardt for beer money. He wasn't wearing his usual blue Jean overalls, but rather leather pants and a huge orange foam cowboy hat. So he fit right in. I took one look into those crazy blue eyes and realized he was playing completely sober yet incognito. For what reason, I can only haphazardly guess and will not do so here; suffice it to say that Lefty was always doing things that made sense only to him.

Among the things that remain a mystery about Lefty is just where he got all his musical ability from. His parents did have an uncanny ability to yodel, yet nothing more. And Lefty's stubborn refusal to practice and his favorite saying, "Why practice at something you're good at?" help very little in making sense of this mystery, and the question of where he found his musical gifts still remains unanswered. When I put this very question to him, he just smiled, exhaled heavily like he was a godlike creature in the process of creating a sandstorm, and ran his fingers over the strings of his Gibson without touching them or playing a note, possibly suggesting an answer of "out of thin air." But I can't be sure.



Cousin McGee
Cousin McGee
When you think of coal mining you think of two things. Coal dust, Loretta Lynn and the Cousin... well, okay so maybe thatís three things. In any event, it is the third thing that we're going to focus upon here, namely, The Cousin. And when I say Cousin, I mean brother and friend, for cousin is brother to Pancho and Lefty, and friend to all small furry creatures.

Cousin grew up in a small coal mining town. The name's not important, but if you must know, it was Boonerís Falls, near Pikeís Junction at Groverís Flats. As he grew from a little Cousini to a big Cousin (after twenty-odd years, he realized all that was necessary to achieve manhood was to drop the "i"), well, he learned a few things; the most relevant of which was how to play the slide guitar. Perhaps the fact that he had something to say artistically, was broke beyond the depression-era's wildest nightmares, and that God appeared to him in a dream, saying "You shall go forth and make a racket with your fingers," had something to do with his choice of vocation.

So he did go forth and make the music that flowed out of him like fine imported wine, and not the kind from Australia. What music Cousin made is, as put in his own modest words, "the greatest ever created." However, it should be noted that just a few days ago, Cousin came to the realization that the button marked "=" on his newfangled CD player was pause, not play, which is actually marked "-->", and he assumed this "-->" button to be a sign to look to the left and press the pause button. Which brings us to the pause button once again, but this too is not important.

What is important, and I stress this, is that the Cousin harnessed all his strength and then spewed it forth in the form of a pentatonic scale. So what is important here is music. That's right, music. Every day the Cousin went down into the dark, dank coal mine of his soul, and filled his little pail up with nuggets of truisms about the human condition, such as: "It sucks to be alone," "Life is what you make of it," "All the money in the world just loses its value over time, given inflation" and "Money canít buy you love, but it sure can fake you out into thinking you're happy for a while."

Other lesser truisms like "If I could get back all the money that I've spent on the lottery over the years, it would be like I won the lottery" didn't make it onto the CD.


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