My Musical Career
This is the true story of Trevor McShane. Trevor McShane debuted in 2000 with the release of his first album, First Love, Last Love, and Trevor was created that year as the nom de plume of Neville Johnson, which is me. I had then and do now have a very successful law practice as an entertainment, media and business attorney, which I did not want to be affected by my musical endeavors, plus I wanted the music to be taken on its own, so I created the barely plausible bio of Trevor McShane. (The Dr. was later dropped as being too pretentious.)
So this is how I became a professional musician …
I have loved music since I first heard it, and was glued to the radio as a boy. I loved rock and roll and I still do. I wanted to take piano lessons as kid, but Mom and Dad said no, that being a musician was something to which I should not aspire as it was too difficult a profession economically. I collected records and remained a big fan of popular music. When I was 18, a friend taught me a few chords. I finally bought a guitar when I was 20, and learned from friends, and took a group folk music course from Barry Olivier in Berkeley. Barry used to promote the Berkeley Folk Festival and is still teaching in Berkeley today! I called him recently to thank him and tell him that all these years later I was still making music and he reminded me John Fogerty had taken some lessons from him as well.
I graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 1971, where I was the music critic for the campus paper, The Daily Californian. That was a lot of fun and it was very interesting to see the inner workings of the music industry. I saw many great concerts and got a ton of free records. I was also a disc jockey on the campus radio station, KALX. A year after graduation, I went to law school and I have loved being an attorney.
From 1972 to 1993, my making music was mostly confined almost exclusively to playing alone at home. I wrote a half a dozen songs with college buddy, Jesse Easter, around 1974-75. We used to go to the piano rooms at UCLA to write. This collaboration resulted in “Baby Crazy” which is on my first cd, First Love, Last Love (and the excellent video of the song) and “Living in Danger,” which is on the Contemporary Retro album, soon to be released. (Jesse and I are writing together again, with four collaborations on the upcoming cd, Adventures In Modern Recording.) I didn’t write any songs between 1975 and 1993; I mostly just played the same songs over and over and developed as a rhythm guitarist. I never thought seriously there was any possibility in making music commercially.
Tequila Mockingbird used to book coffee houses in Los Angeles in 1993. I picked up a guitar at her office one day and played it. She suggested I do a performance at one of them, and her reaction was encouraging, but she said I needed to do original material. That meant writing, so I decided to give that another go. It came easy, like a fire hydrant gushing. I began to write poems, which I could turn into songs, and now have several thousand poems.
Around the same time I used to visit with a client/acquaintance regularly and I would pick up the guitar at his house. He encouraged my talent and ultimately arranged for me to go into the studio to record with Bernie Worrell and Gary Shider, respectively the keyboardist and guitarist of the legendary Parliament/Funkaldelic. That resulted in “Will You,” which you will hear on the album “Organic Soul,” soon to be released. I liked the experience of recording quite a bit and decided to put together a group to record. During the latter half of the 1990’s First Love, Last Love, was recorded. During this period of time I was also writing two books, The John Wooden Pyramid of Success, and First Love, Last Love, the novel. I decided to incorporate the album into the book, incorporating the lyrics into the text.
I completed First Love, Last Love in 2000, along with the two books, and started Cool Records to release the cd and Cool Titles to release the books, while continuing with the law practice, which was thriving . The John Wooden Pyramid of Success did very well, and I am very proud of writing about the greatest coach in the history of sports who is moreover a philosopher and generally one of the finest persons ever to walk this planet.
Cool Titles published Jonathan Miller’s mystery, Rattlesnake Lawyer, which has led to the publication of five more books by this author. Cool Records first two releases were Dirty White Town by Shoofly and The Invisible Poet Kings, a band led by Barry Keenan. When First Love, Last Love, the book and the cd were released in 2000, I did not have the time and energy to promote either given my obligations as an attorney. I did release the video of “Baby Crazy,” which turned out great, but it was pre-YouTube, so it did not get much attention at the time. I also did some gigs with the band, but creating music and promoting it properly are two very different aspects of what it takes to achieve commercial success, so our splash was very little in the big musical pond. The album has been well received by those who’ve heard it.
This brings us to 2004 and Merrily Weeber and John Barnard. I had known Merrily for many years as a fine vocalist and songwriter, and had previously wanted to sign her and John, her paramour and collaborator, to Cool Records, which did not happen. They stayed in touch with me, though and were enthusiastic about my musical abilities. I was in the doldrums musically, not writing, and just ambling along generally. They had an interesting offer for me: John was partners in a studio, which he would provide and they would like to work with me on a new project. It was just what I needed to hear and so commenced on recording what ultimately became the Dizzy cd, of which I am very proud, and was released in 2007. John and Merrily are first class musicians, a joy to collaborate with, and simply excellent people. I started to write again, individually, and with them, and so the next phase of my career occurred. The cd was released by East of Sideways, a label I co-own with Barry Keenan and Jeff Hirschtick, and was well received by those who heard it, but did not make much of a dent musically. It’s tough to promote a recording artist whose biographical details are fictional and promotion was limited.
It is a new time for Trevor McShane, now, as I’m “going public,” promoting the art and playing live. You may remember Andrew Wyeth, the great painter, came out all at once with with the Helga series of paintings, 240 works he created between 1971 and 1985. Well, I’ve been “woodshedding” and coming out shortly are 63 new recordings!
Here we are in 2010, and four new albums are about to be released. They are:
Contemporary Retro: The title song of Dizzy was written by the great artist Michael Jarrett. I had known him since the late 1970’s, but we had lost touch, and out of the blue, he contacted me and I cut that song that I always loved. We then agreed to collaborate and I wrote the lyrics to his cd, Journey Into Love. He enjoyed working with me and proposed that he produce an album on me, which has ultimately become Contemporary Retro. It has been mastered and will be coming out shortly. Barry Keenan took over the production duties and we’re all excited about it. You can hear/see one of the songs on this album on YouTube, “Happy Here and Now.” Guitar legend Albert Lee plays on many of the tracks, and I do two duets with the incredible Mitch Ryder! The alb um features a horn section on most tracks.
Organic Soul is a collaboration of me and Barry Keenan. We wrote some of the songs together. It has now been mastered and I will write further about it when it is released..
Adventures in Modern Recording (The New Mexico Sessions/Conflict Contract) is completed and came about because Jonathon Miller, the mystery author in Albuquerque suggested music accompany his new book, Conflict Contract, which will be released in 2010 by Cool Titles. I was game, and wrote some songs thematically based on the book. I produced the sessions, and later was joined by Stephen Short, a very talented and experienced producer. Basic tracks were cut at Thud Studios II in North Hollywood, California, and mixing was at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas. You will enjoy this record. More on this album when the cd comes out.
McShane on Fire. Rich E. Blaze is an amazing producer and musician. In 2006, we first got together to see if there was a musical connection. There was and is. Twenty recordings later, get ready for some great tunes in a variety of styles, including pop, rock, folkie and even some jazzy material. Moreover, you’ll hear songs written by me and Jack Tempchin (“Peaceful Easy Feeling” “Slow Dancing”) and folk music legend rambling Jack Elliott.
So that’s the past to the present, and here’s the future. Trevor McShane is revealing his secret identity and is for the first time actively and seriously promoting his music, so get in tune with the tunes. We will be offering free downloads and we want you to discover this music. It’s music for the heart and soul. We will be playing dates, predominantly in Southern California, and hope to see you at our gigs. And we want to hear from you, so stay in touch.