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The liner notes on his latest release “Snake Stew” reads: “Nestled on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains is a valley. Living here has inspired my songwriting more than anything else. Strong love of life, friends and family are my themes. We live, we learn, we love.”

The fact he lives out on Judge Ronald Road sounds like a homestead right out of a Western movie. His solo release “Snake Stew” was recorded at Velvetone Records here in Ellensburg. He enlists the musical talents of former bandmate Sam Albright and former Screaming Trees drummer Mark Pickerel.

“Snake Stew” came out in 2019 and was the last real work local singer/songwriter Billy Maguire did before the coronavirus shut down the music scene ... until now.

TINY STAGE

The Ellensburg Community Radio is going to fire up the Tiny Stage and see if it can’t get some music to the masses and they’re going to kick it off with Billy Maguire upstairs in the 420 Building down on Pearl Street.

“Ellensburg Community Radio is starting up the Tiny Stage Concert Series with one concert a month until COVID-19 allows more,” said board member Mollie Edson. “Tuesday night will be a radio show, but we’re hoping to change it to Thursday nights when the brewpub (Pretty Fair Beer) will be open and people can sit downstairs, enjoy a beer and listen to live music.

“It really is a good sound throughout building even though they’re not in the same room as the musicians.”

The first in the Tiny Stage Concert Series is 7 p.m, Tuesday, starring Billy Mac.

The pandemic restrictions hit hard and fast in March of 2020, gatherings were stopped, live gigs canceled and the musicians and the industry were left to scramble. Ellensburg Community Radio’s live stream is a start to something better.

“I don’t believe there will anybody in Pretty Fair Beer down below, and I’m pretty certain the radio staff will be limited. But I don’t even care, I’m just so ready to get out and play,” Maguire said with a laugh.

BETTER DAYS

Maguire was the main songwriter for the Better Day Band for over a decade. He and Albright pooled their talents on his 13-song solo release over a year ago, but he never had the chance to promote or introduce the new material. His audience on Tuesday will have a chance to hear songs like, “Kindness Death Ray,” “Better Way,” “Last Rodeo, and “John Wayne Trail.” On the recording, Pickerel sits in on the title track, “Snake Stew.”

“I’m sure Tuesday will fly by because it’s just an hour set, but it will be the first chance I’ll have to play the new songs,” Maguire said. “It’ll be an acoustic set and I’ll play a little harp. I’m thinking maybe 10 songs. I’m still picking selections from the song list.”

His music represents a wide body of work you might define as Americana. A little bit of western, folk and some finger-pointing songs reflective of the times, and how they might or might not be a-changing.

“I guess we’re all hoping for a better day,” he said in reference to his old band and coming out the other side of turbulent times with racial tensions, a global pandemic and all its health restrictions. “I have so much new material that I told Sam (Albright) we could do two more albums.

“We might just get them down, and work them out at a later date. I haven’t decided about that yet.”

MULTI-INSTRUMENTALISTS

He and Albright are both multi-instrumental players that did almost all of the work on Snake Stew. After combining forces in Better Day, Maguire and Albright got together in Albright’s studio on West Third Avenue.

“We were able to do the whole project by ourselves,” Maguire said. “Back in the day, his studio was really cool. He had to let it go a little bit because he’s not as much involved anymore.

“The quality is special. The upstairs needs a makeover, but the control room is still there. There’s a big room where people are still practicing. I’ve been in there a couple of times myself, sat 10 feet away, and played with a couple of guys. We haven’t been able to do anything since, so Tuesday night is going to be fun.”

IN THE STUDIO

Albright flushes out Maguire’s country/folk presentation with various string instruments, bringing to life the sounds of country life, much like they do through their paintings.

“Billy is a great songwriter and we did an album of his personal material,” Albright said. “Snake Stew was a great project with songs about life. Billy and I played the basic parts and then I added guitar, dobro, mandolin and extra vocal parts.

“We produced the project, but it still has that guitar, singer/songwriter vibe to it.”

We can only hope Billy Mac on the Tiny Stage is a prelude to better days and live music this summer.

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