PASCAGOULA — Ten-time Country Music Association Musician of the Year Mac McAnally was the legendary Jimmy Buffett’s right-hand man in the Coral Reefer Band for some 25 years or so.
His longtime association with the recently deceased Pascagoula native has made McAnally a favorite in Buffett’s hometown, and now McAnally is returning to pay tribute to his old friend after Buffett’s passing.
McAnally is set for a triumphant return to Pascagoula this Fall as he will play at The Grand Magnolia Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 12th. Tickets are already on sale at www.grandmagmusic.com as well as at Scranton’s Restaurant in Pascagoula. The show will start at 7:30 p.m.
This will be McAnally’s sixth show in Pascagoula in the past six years, and he’s once again back by popular demand. He played a pair of consecutive sold-out shows last year in May, just several days after he and Buffett led the Coral Reefer Band on stage at Jazz Fest before 80,000 fans.
He also played to yet another sold-out crowd in June of this year, and now he returns yet again to the birthplace of his longtime friend and bandleader who died on Sept. 1st.
“I am without words for about three weeks now. I usually have too many,” McAnally said on Monday. “The closest thing I ever had to a big brother left this world on Sept. 1. I’ve been comforted by so many beautiful tributes and am grateful for them. It is my intent to offer comfort and tribute in words and music for the rest of my life. I’m just slow getting up to speed. Jimmy would be laughing at me (or IS laughing) for dragging my feet.”
“What I can say in lieu of the right words that continue to evade is what an honor it is and has been to ride shotgun with a one-man fountain of positive energy that saw fit to take me under his wing forty-some odd years ago,” McAnally added. “And to the folks who only knew him from the stage or through the speakers, I can tell you he was the same fellow in person that you saw and heard. Trying to help everyone he crossed paths with have the best day possible. Rich folks, poor folks, strangers and friends. Blue and white collars, all religions and political camps. He saw life as a gift to enjoy and his calling was to spread that joy. I’ve never seen anybody do it better. Godspeed JB.”
Pascagoula has become sort of an annual destination for the highly-acclaimed McAnally. He also accompanied Buffett in his performance on the beach in The Flagship City in 2015 and Buffett also joined McAnally in his first show ever at The Grand Magnolia in 2017.
“I’m a Mississippi guy,” McAnally said, “I like coming back home and playing my songs. I like playing my own shows in small venues because my music is like a story you would tell to a small room of friends.”
McAnally is a Belmont, Miss., native, and his 10 CMA MOTY Awards is a record in that category.
The multi-talented McAnally is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and was nominated for a Grammy Award. He was also honored recently with having a star dedicated in his name on the Music City Walk of Fame in downtown Nashville
McAnally has also written numerous top hits over the years for the likes of Kenny Chesney (“Down The Road”), Alabama (“Old Flame”), Shenandoah (“Two Dozen Roses”), Sawyer Brown (“All These Years”, “Thank God for you”) as well as Steve Wariner (“Crazy World”) and Sammy Kershaw (“Southbound”) among others.
Buffett covered many McAnally songs such as “It’s My Job” and Buffett and McAnally’s rendition of Mac’s song “Back Where I Come From” in Buffett’s live shows quickly became a crowd favorite all over the world. Chesney also had a number-one hit with that song.
“I’ve been around storytellers all my life, Southern whittlers and guys at the courthouse,” McAnally concluded. “I’ve listened to the melodies in their conversation, the rising and falling. I’ve watched how they use their hands and tried to translate that into music. I’ve read a lot of Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor, you know the Mississippi writers. I’m definitely not in their league, but I’ve tried to write as if I were cooking short stories down to a reduction of three-minute songs. It’s not that I’m a brilliant guy or anything; that’s just the way I work.”