Mack's Musical Heritage

 

 

 

 

The Hard Travelers

(1987 - 2017)

The Limeliters

(2004 - 2012)

John  Denver Tributes

(1998 - Present)

 

 

The Hard Travelers

(1987 - 2017)

 

"The Hard Travelers are dedicated to finding ways to use their music

as a vehicle to make a difference in the world."

Kenn Roberts, John Glik, Ira Gitlin, Mack Bailey, Mike Munford

The Hard Travelers  have had several groupings of outstanding musicians.  A long established folk group, they continued to perform exciting concerts and sponsor annual benefit events for charity, through the M.U.S.E. Foundation, founded by The Hard Traveler's remaining original member, Kenn Roberts.  Over the years, Mack became the center piece and lead of this band.

 Kenn Roberts, Mack Bailey, Mike Munford, Jon Glik, Marc MacGlashen and Ira Gitlin were The Hard Travelers.  For more than 30 years The Travelers  delighted audiences from DC to Japan.  As members of a fraternity at the University of Maryland, The Hard Travelers began playing together in 1958. Original members were Kenn Roberts, Buddy Renfro and Mike Ritter.  During  their 60 years of performing some changes occurred.  After a hiatus, in 1987 preparing for a reunion concert, The Travelers added a fourth member, Mack Bailey, whose tenor vocals have become the heart of their sound.   They decided to keep the music going.  Subsequently, Mike Ritter retired and Buddy Renfro lost his fight with Cancer in May, 1998.  

Evolving, they added three stunning instrumentalists, Mike Munford on banjo, Jon Glik on fiddle and Ira Gitlin on bass, with occasional assists from MacGlashen on mandolin.  With these new talents, musically they evolved from Pure Folk to Folk-Bluegrass to Folk-Country, and had a unique quality of their own. Much of their music was self-composed, primarily by Mack Bailey and Buddy Renfro, but you could always count on a familiar tune from one of the many performers who have influenced their work. A mixture of varied voices blending into tight harmonies along with guitars, banjo, mandolin, acoustic bass and fiddle, The Hard Travelers were a truly unique act with an avid following of friends and devotees.

From their beginning until 2017,  they were the opening act at The Cellar Door in Washington, DC, toured all over the USA from The Kerrville Folk Festival to Grossinger's in NY, Azalea Festival in NC, The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado and a goodwill tour in Taiwan.  The Travelers were dedicated to finding ways to use their music as a vehicle to make a difference in the world.  In 1988 they produced the first "Hard Travelers and Friends Concert" to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis.  An annual event for 19 years, The Travelers were joined by such renowned artists as Emmylou Harris, Alabama, Kathy Mattea, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Alan Jackson, the Oak  Ridge Boys, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire, to name a few.  They  raised over eleven (11) million dollars for various charities, with their main focus on finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

"The Hard Travelers are well known for giving a very lively and engaging performance, and for leaving their audiences feeling good about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!  They are a bunch of good ol' boys having a good ol' time sharing songs about everyday life experiences about everyday folks. A great band to get you in the mood."

"The Hard Travelers music features soaring harmonies worked into lively songs and poignant ballads.  The musicians are first rate and combine their talents to make a spirited good time for their enthusiastic audiences."

   

Hard Travelers CD's featuring Mack:

 All proceeds from these CDs go to the MUSE Foundation for the charities they support. 

Click on image for more info and ordering

I'd Rather Wear Out Than Rust

High Gear

Silver & Gold

Sailin' On A Second Wind

 

 

The Limeliters

(2004 - 2012)

 

    2006 - 2012:                                                                       2004 - 2006:

    andy_mack_gaylan 

Mack, Andy Corwin and Gaylan Taylor  * * * * *  Alex Hassilev, Andy Corwin and Mack

 

Mack has been hailed as “the next great singer in folk music” by no less an authority than Glenn Yarbrough, the original tenor in the fabulous world-renowned folk trio, The Limeliters.  Mack’s career came full circle when in 2004 he was asked to be the newest tenor in The Limeliters, with whom he performed around the country for eight years (including with Glenn, at times), delighting audiences everywhere.  The group adopted some of Mack's own original songs.  This association brought Mack to the attention of national folk music fans.  Solo and with the Limeliters, he was featured on several cruises.

 

Limeliter CD's featuring Mack:

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Live in Paradise

The Limeliters

Right From The Start

The Limeliters

 

 

 

Tribute to John  Denver Productions

(1998 - Present)

 

On September 20, 1997, just weeks prior to John's death, Mack had the rare privilege of singing with John Denver in the finale of one of his last concerts.  John was a huge influence on Mack's musical upbringing, as he learned to play the guitar using John's songs.  Further, he credits John with "teaching me how to sing a song."   Now, Mack has been included in the elite musical cast comprising John's former band mates and musical partners, in paying tribute to him though concerts around the country and in Europe.

Left, Mack (L) on stage with John (R) singing "Thank God, I'm A Country Boy"

 

 

"The power and love in John's music is recreated in wonderfully interpreted versions of his songs, performed by an amazing cast - with warmth, emotional spirit and soaring sound.  Audiences respond with enthusiastic tears and laughter."

 

    

Musicians with whom Mack has performed include: Chris Nole (John's piano player) , Alan Deremo (John's bass player),  Kenn Roberts (Producer), Bill Danoff (composer of 12 songs recorded by John), Jim Salestrom (John's studio musician), John Sommers (John's fiddler and banjo player), Gary Muldeer (Comedian; John's friend), Steve Weisberg (John's guitar player) Mack Bailey, Mollie Weaver (John's friend and vocalist), Jim Horn (John's horn/flute/saxophone player),  Denny Brooks (John's backup musician), Pete Huttlinger (John's lead guitarist - studio & touring), Herb Pedersen (John's banjo and mandolin player), Richie Gajate-Garcia (John's drummer), and others.

 

 

LEFT: Denny Brooks, Alan Deremo (rear), Mollie Weaver , Jim Salestrom, Richie Gajate-Garcia (drums), Mack,

John Somers (right rear) and Herb Petersen.  RIGHT: Pete Huttlinger, Bil Danoffl, Chris Nole, Jim Horn,

Mollie Weaver, John Sommers, & Mack

 

John Denver Tribute CD's featuring Mack:

Click on image for more info and ordering.

Aspen John Denver Tributes

Wheeler Opera House 2000

Aspen John Denver Tributes

Wheeler Opera House 1998

Flying Again

Duo with Mollie Weaver

Live From The Casa

John Denver Tribute

Wish You Were Here

Duo with Mollie Weaver

 

Mack and John Denver:

The following is a transcript of  Mack reminiscing about his experiences with John Denver:

I literally learned to play the guitar learning John’s songs.  I was never a fan in the sense of learning all about him, or anything like that, but I just learned all his music.  And I really respected him as somebody that I could learn from.  I spent a lot of time trying to have the opportunity to meet him.

There was one time in New Hampshire I was working at a resort hotel and he came to do a concert up there, which was kind of surprising.  It was a small place, with the concert on one tennis court and they had a stage set up.  So you can imagine that’s just how many people were there.  And I had gotten really good seats and I had put together a package – a cassette tape of some of my songs and a letter.  It was a great show and he had just started working with James Burton and those guys and at one point, he started introducing everybody on stage and he mentions Barney Wyckoff, who’s his stage manager at the time.  So, as soon as the show was over, I ran up to the limo behind the stage and I opened the door, and I threw my package in and said, “Barney said ‘make sure John gets this.’” And then I shut the door and I ran.

Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, I get this little note from “John Denver Music” and it said, “we listened to your tape and didn’t find anything we could use and don’t ever do that again.”  So that was pretty close.

But then, on September 20, 1997, that changed.  A group I work with, The Hard Travelers, does benefit concerts for Cystic Fibrosis every year, and we are the opening act to big-named country stars.  For the 10th anniversary, we were able to get John.  We had talked to John and we’d tried many times to put the show together but it just never worked with his schedule, but this was going to work.  So, at the 7th inning stretch of every Baltimore Orioles baseball game, they play “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” 

So that day began with us going to the Baltimore Orioles game and we were in the Governor’s box and this was going to be the first time that I met John.  So, I walked in and saw him standing over there and I was really nervous.  BUT, I knew one thing for certain and it was kind of comforting.  I knew, without a doubt, that I was going to say something very stupid.  I just wasn’t sure what it was going to be.  So, with that confidence, I decided what I would do is turn the tables to my advantage.  I waited until he took a bite of something and then walked up and said, “John, my name is Mack Bailey, and I just wanted to thank you for teaching me how to sing a song.  And I’ll be in the band tonight.”  And I turned around to walk away. 

He said, “Wait a minute.  Mack Bailey.  Didn’t you record “Potter’s Wheel” before I did?”  And swelling with pride, I said, “Why, yes.  I did.”  And, so we talked for a little bit and it was really very cool.   And then he went down for the 7th inning stretch and mouthed the words to “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

Then, we went on up to sound check.  We had asked him if he would sing, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” because we have a great fiddler in our band, and he agreed.  So, we get to sound-check and he said, “I’m going to save my voice for later on.”  He looked at one of the guys in our band and said, “Kenn, you sing the verses during sound-check and I’ll do them during the show.”  Kenn said, “I don’t know them, but Mack does.”   So, he said, “OK, Mack.  You do them for sound-check and I’ll do them in the show.”

I was thinking, “you know what?  I could care less if this show’s tonight or not.  This is what it’s all about.  This is like my full circle - right here.”  So, I sang my butt off during sound-check and when it was over, he came over and said to me, “You know, why don’t you and I just trade verses on this thing.”  So, during the show, we actually traded verses and it was quite a thrill. 

And then, of course, two weeks later, we get hit with the tragic news.  So, now we get some of his former band members together and we do a tribute show in Aspen every year.  It’s a wonderful emotional tribute.  It’s not sappy or schmaltzy at all; it’s just a nice tribute by his friends and people who had a chance to make some music with him.  And it’s so touching that people come from all over the world and there were a lot of tributes.  It’s a great weekend tribute to a wonderful man.