billy mac

Ellensburg singer/song writer Billy Maguire played his first live performance on Sunday at the Owen Roe Winery in Yakima.

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YAKIMA — Ellensburg singer/song writer Billy Maguire sat overlooking a hillside of vineyards on a sunny afternoon as the crowd sitting on the lawn or at tables moved about freely at the Owen Roe Winery venue on Sunday.

It was the first time he had played in front of a live audience in the past 13-14 months, since the pandemic shut down the live music scene, and it felt good. Audience response is good for the soul and he interacted with the crowd like he had never missed a beat.

“I played a little bit of everything. The crowd was a young-family type with really young kids,” said Maguire, who is booked to play a Sunday a month through September. “So, I kept it kind of light.

“It felt great to play to an audience again and they were very gracious. It was great to be able to interact. There were people sitting nearby on the lawn or at picnic tables. It was set up with people coming in in groups to meet the safety protocols.”

He hadn’t played since opening the Ellensburg Community Radio Tiny Stage Concert Series back in February, but that show was geared to a radio audience. Sunday was back to audience participation and is expected to gain momentum as the summer schedule goes on. His next gig is June 6.

Maguire had completed his solo release, “Snake Stew,” about this time a year ago with songs like the title track “Snake Stew,” “Kindness Death Ray,” “Need a Little Lovin’ ” and the “John Wayne Trail.”

“I played 30, maybe 35 songs. It was long, I know that,” he said with a laugh. “I have some new songs I didn’t play on Tiny Stage. I wrote a song for my wife called, ‘Thank You.’

“… Thank you for all the things you do. I’ll never treat you like a worn out shoe. You are my rock. You are my roll, I’m never going to let you go …”

With the public vaccinations opening the doors to greater freedoms, he hopes the summer schedule allows for more public appearances around the valley. Audiences will have a chance to see Billy Mac at the Owen Roe Winery throughout the summer.

Hopefully venues in Ellensburg will be ready for live entertainment this summer, he said. But until then he’s just going to keep on keeping on, work up some new material and be ready to lay it down live when the time is right.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at


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