Bat McGrath

 

My beautiful and talented wife is encouraging me to get a biography together.  I sure ain't gonna hire someone to sit across from me while I go "and then I...and then I".  Ouch!  Why is it that old stories sound so much better over a beer at the Naples Hotel?


So, would an autobiography work?  Let's see if I can dig around the old bones of my mind.  I can't remember the exact dates and years but I'll bet I remember some times.


I remember being underage (with fake proof) and playing in bars around the Glens Falls/Lake George area of NY.(circa 1960).  I was a drummer and the band was popular with our girlfriends and anyone who desperately needed the nearest drink.  Someone said there was a kid from California, 15 yrs. old, who played the tar out of a guitar - Don Potter.  The band he was in came to Kaiser's to steal our gig, but I stole Don instead and we formed THE SHOWSTOPPERS, a fun and fearless band.  We played a blues flavored brand of rock before it was in vogue.  We went on to be discovered by the legendary John Hammond of Columbia records and released two singles that you probably never heard.  When that deal died, Don and I recorded an album on RCA records (unreleased) and an album titled INTRODUCING for Epic Records in 1969.


Early 70's..Don and I ran a club, Hyliemorris' Alley in Rochester NY.  It was a coffeehouse, so we could play afterhours (4am on sat.) and all the jazz players who were in town would come down after their gigs to hang and "sit in".  Chuck Mangione, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, Pat Martino, Gerry Niewood, Kenny Burell...dig it?  I remember Don and I sitting at our farm in Kenwood, NY with Chuck Mangione and Stanley Watson creating the FRIENDS AND LOVE concert (Mercury Records 1970).  I had the honor of writing all the lyrics on that album.  I swear, we had a shotgun by the door because we had heard that some locals wanted to burn out the hippies.  We followed that up by working with Chuck on the TOGETHER album.  Good years!


By the mid-70's Don had moved to Nashville where he later became an essential element of The Judds.  I was playing at the Naples Hotel, "living on pickled eggs and yeast" while I developed a passion for songwriting and seclusion.  In ’76 and ’78 I released two well received albums on Amherst Records called FROM THE BLUE EAGLE and THE SPY.


In 1980 I traveled to Scotland and recorded WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JOUSTING for Mike Gibb and Manana Records.  It was produced by Mark Ellington and recorded at Towie Barkley, an historic Scottish castle.  We were getting some good response and momentum when the disco era hit.  If there's one thing I don't do it's dance, so we can skip ahead. (No pun.)


My precious children Liam, '77 and Casey, '80 were the only thing I did right for the next 10 yrs. 

In the late 80's I moved to Nashville and my kids and their mom moved back to Rochester, NY.  I played quite a bit up north when I would visit the kids and continued to develop my songwriting skills in Nashville.  I even wrote two songs with the legendary Harlan Howard. They weren't exceptional... He said I needed to quit playing those "funny chords".... 


90's... I was surviving on publishing deals. (Writing for money.  Not necessarily a bad thing.)  On a trip to L.A., St. Patty’s Day 1989, I met the love of my life.  She broke my heart and I wrote some of the best, albeit saddest, songs of my life.  These songs can be heard on both the MR. RIGHT and BACK IN LOVE AGAIN CDs, recorded on my own independent label and available on my website.


In 1997 a song I wrote with Billy Kirsch, COME SOME RAINY DAY, was a top ten country hit for Wynonna.  In 1998, I had three songs on the acclaimed Earl Thomas Conley album PERPETUAL EMOTION.  In 1999 I had two songs on the ChaleeTennison’s debut album, and two songs on the Chad Austin album All MY DREAMS - both recorded on Asylum Records.  Although Chad and Chalee are not yet “household names”, they remain two of my favorite country singers.


In July of 2000 I married that same love of my life Tricia Cast.  After 15 yrs. as a lead actress on The Young And The Restless, Tricia became my bride and moved to the hills of Tennessee.  Good career move, huh?


In 2001 Chely Wright recorded a song written by Pat Alger and me called FOR THE LONG RUN.  She is a brave and beautiful person!


In 2003 I recorded my SO I DO cd, produced by Mark Prentice.


In 2006 Kenny Rogers recorded a wonderful version of I CAN FEEL YOU DRIFTING written by me and Billy Kirsch.  It’s on his WATER & BRIDGES cd.


In 2008 I recorded COMMUNICATE ...In 2010 PERFECTLY FLAWED...and in 2012 NO REVERB - all produced by Mike Severs.


I have decided to spend the final chapters of my life playing live to any audience I can gather.  In the last few years I have played houseconcerts for 30-50 folks, as well as large festivals, e.g. The 2012 Rochester International Jazz Fest.


I write and play my Froggy Bottom guitar every day.  I drive a John Deere tractor and have a Belgian Malinois (dog) named King.  Tricia makes fabulous quilts and has participated in some wonderful theatrical productions in Nashville.  When Y&R has a storyline for “Nina”, she commutes to L.A.   Sometimes we just walk in the woods at our farm, hold hands, and wonder what we ever did to deserve a love like this.  Life is good, sometimes you just have to BELIEVE...and wait.


In April, 2013 Bat was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.