Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Billy Mac's Triumphant Return

This is long overdue, but here it is: Billy McLaughlin playing left handed.

I once heard Billy Mac lecture on "the intervalic fretboard." I didn't get it then - no one else did either - and I don't get it now. Billy is one of those rare musicians who sees the music; his hands are just an extension of his mind. That said, if you were to try to think of someone, master musician or not, who could suddenly decide to switch from right hand to left, Billy would be one of the few that would come to mind.

He plays differently now, holding the guitar more like a cello, but its all there.

We briefly taught together at Evans Music in White Bear Lake, although I can assure you it wasn't the same students. While Billy was teaching the deep principals of music to serious musicians, I was teaching "Enter Sandman" to teenagers.

The above recording was filmed at the Maplewood Community Center and marks Billy's comeback after years of struggling with focal dystonia, which forced the astonishing switch. Unfortunately it doesn't include his first words to the audience that night, following Helms Place, "I'm Billy McLaughlin, left-handed guitar player."

UPDATE: What the hell, as long as we're on the subject here's Fingerdance, from the old days and yes, he plays it left-handed now.

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