Singer and songwriter Pat McGee is settling into a life in Barrington that revolves around his three daughters – and a bit of a change in his career.
“I’ll always sing and write songs, and I’m still with the band,” said McGee, known best perhaps as the lead singer and songwriter for the Pat McGee Band.
For instance, McGee has a Feb. 4 gig at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, one of about 100 shows he will do this year. But that’s far fewer than the 300 shows a year he did for years all across the country.
“I lived on a tour bus for seven years,” McGee said. And it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to fly to Seattle and end up in San Diego or Phoenix 10 days later doing a show each day in between before flying back East.
McGee also has seen his music become “more mature, more introspective,” he said. “I try to tap into people’s emotions, whether it’s light-hearted or real serious, to make a connection with people. I want people to get invested in me as an artist.”
McGee said his days of playing classic rock cover songs for college-age crowds is pretty much in the past.
“We were a college touring machine,” he said of his band, which he started in 1995 as a 21-year-old singer and guitarist.
He is 39 now, still kind of “under the radar,” as he describes himself, but with a cult-like following of fans.
McGee doesn’t want to lose his past, but he does see his career going in a different direction now, much like each of his nine albums has “gone in a different direction.”
"I'm at a tipping point," he said. "What do I want to do for the next 20 years in music?"
McGee also is bouncing back from some heartbreak. His drummer and a friend for many years, Chris Williams, died of a massive heart attack last summer. McGee’s song, “Come Back Home,” is a tribute to Williams and the military, especially Williams’ younger brother, Blake, a casualty in the Iraq war after the song was released.
“They lost two sons,” he said of his drummer’s family. (See the YouTube video above.)
McGee also has launched a business, Down the Hatch. He puts together “destination vacations” all over the country with music as the focal point.
“We’ll do a full concert, bring in up to 10 other bands, provide special food and drink, and I’ll tell people where to go to have fun,” he said.
McGee said he is familiar with most of the tourist hot spots after traveling to them way more than once over his career.
“We’ll take over a hotel and restaurant, kind of like managing a big wedding,” he said.
Classic rock is his musical roots, said McGee, who played in a band with his older brother for a few years in the Washington, D.C., area. He is a native of nearby Alexandria, Va., where his parents and brother still live.
But McGee plans to write country music for other artists over the next 10 years, he said.
“I’ve been going back and forth to Nashville,” he said.
McGee lives in a house on Waseca Avenue, from where “I can walk to everything. I love it.” He shares custody of his daughters with his ex-wife, who also lives in Barrington. He takes the girls to school every morning.
Anna, 10, is a fourth-grader at Hampden Meadows School.
“I coach her YMCA basketball team,” he said.
Elizabeth, 8, a third-grader, and Juliet, 6, a kindergartener, both attend Primrose Hill School. Elizabeth performed in last weekend’s Arts Alive! performance of “Alice/Alex in Wonderland,” for which McGee wrote the theme song.
“The show was amazing, by the way,” he said.
“We love this town and the people we have met in the fabulous schools,” McGee said.
Yes, it does seem like he is settling down in Barrington.
By the way, opening for McGee at his show at the Narrows on Feb. 4 will be singer Katherine Quinn, of Barrington.