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image of beth playing guitar

 

 

 

 

Biography

 

 


 

For more information on Beth McIntosh, visit her Press Page

 

links still under construction

 


 

I always have had the gift of music around me. As a child it was usually a piano being played by a great aunt or grandparent, but everyone played. (I had the requisite miserable piano lessons.) There were beloved recordings by The Brothers Four, Peter Paul and Mary, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and The Fifth Dimension. There were threads of celtic music, derived from the twelve generations of Bostonians who came from Scotland to spawn the McIntosh clan. There were a couple of guitars, too. My mother deified the instrument by playing it in her kindergarten class. The ukulele was my main instrument until I was big enough to get my arms around a guitar. There were public television shows with instruction on guitar, and I watched my parents watching them. When I was 12, I wrote my first song.

 

In high school, I played James Taylor, Beatles, Joni Mitchell and Tom Rush songs (and some originals) to get into cool parties. I played my first professional solo gig on Martha's Vineyard Island at the age of 17, lying about my age to get into the club. I played all the cover tunes I knew plus a few originals. Then I played them again. And again....I received a whopping $30 paycheck for four hours work. At Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, PA I played in the coffee houses and in my room (instead of studying psychology and education which--somehow--became my BA). There I listened to the great delta bluesmen Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Son House; and the Talking Heads.

 

In California I played in clubs and lunch houses while doing graduate work in anthropology, taking my guitar EVERYWHERE. I read Jack Kerouac, Robert Pirsig and Edward Abbey and watched Monty Python when I was near a television. The mighty Greyhound carried me across the nation many times, while I played my guitar and wrote songs. Living under a log, I played and wrote in Alaska on the Homer Spit while processing salmon (slimy hands on guitar strings). I hopped trains from British Columbia to Baja California, meeting the characters who would inhabit my songs. I traveled across the sub zero Rocky Mountain West in a VW bus with only a bunsen burner flaming away to keep the cab warm. And I kept writing.

 

When I arrived in Jackson Hole I began a series of day jobs as a real world study of the music industry. I worked presenting big regional shows (like Victor Borge and The Vienna Choir Boys). I created and performed in every venue I could. I was drive time announcer, jazz DJ and music director at KMTN, Jackson.

 

There I listened to every conceivable form of music and met guitarists, writers and singers like Michael Hedges, Chuck Pyle, Pierce Pettis, Will Ackerman and many others who influenced my music and my views.

 

I left home to tour with and learn from the great American blueswoman, Rory Block. I met the incomparable luthier Chuck Spray who built my remarkable Snake River Guitar. All the while I kept writing songs. I submitted songs from my demo “Original” and won the John Abercrombie Merit Based Scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There I spent my time with William Leavitt, who developed the Berklee Method for Guitar.

 

My songs won the Wyoming Performing Arts Fellowship and I began my touring career in earnest. For the next 10 years I crisscrossed the nation many times over. I shared the stage with Leo Kottke, R. Carlos Nakai, Emmylou Harris, Karla Bonoff, Phil Round, Ben Winship, and David Bromberg among many others.

 

I played mostly as a soloist, sometimes accompanied by fine musicians and sometimes as a sidewoman. Some shows were small colleges and arts councils with 50 people, and some were in halls, theaters and old movie houses filled with thousands. I played clubs, festivals, radio shows, in schools, on boats and in churches. Once I brought the entire audience atop the roof of a venue to share "Whiskey on the Rooftop"-- the name of a tribute song to my grandfather. (I bought the round.)

 

During this period I released four full length original CD's: FIRE AND SAGE, GRIZZLIES WALKING UPRIGHT, SONGLINE and THE WILD RIDE, defining my voice as a writer strongly influenced by powerful places. Paul Schullery (author, Mountain Time) used my music in a lecture series to illustrate how music can evoke the Wild. I headlined the Murie Center sponsored concert: Celebrating the Wild in Song at Walk Festival Hall in Teton Village, WY. I performed in large venues like Kingsbury Hall and the University of Utah Fine Arts Auditorium to sold out standing ovations, and at the Pacific Northwest Folklife Festival. I met some of the most important writers in America and performed alongside authors Doug Peacock (Wild Places, Wild Hearts Tour), Terry Tempest Williams, Charlie Craighead, William Kittredge, Lyn Dalebout and Rick Bass among others.

 

Returning to my Scottish roots in August 2004 to perform and study celtic music and traditional arts at the Common Ground Music Festival in Ayr, Scotland has been one of the highlights of my return to touring. In September 2004 I performed in Breckenridge, CO with established songwriters from Nashville and Los Angeles including Walt Wilkins, Greg Trooper and Irene Kelly.

 

I now listen to artists like Jim Pepper, Karine Polwart, Animal Logic, Richard Thompson, anything with the Funk Brothers, Miles Davis and Peter Gabriel.

 

It's been demanding, crazy and wonderful. Once, in New Hampshire at a luthier's shop, my car, filled with everything I owned (mostly my guitar), gently rolled into the Pemigewassett River. The luthier hopped into his canoe, paddled to the car, lifted the hatch, and saved the guitar (the car and all it's contents sunk). The guitar, obviously at home with rivers, never sounded better and remains my primary performing instrument.
 
- Beth McIntosh

 


For more information on Beth McIntosh, visit her Press Page

 

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