John McGrail - Singer Songwriter


Cleveland based singer songwriter John McGrail has been writing music for over 40 years and performing for over 35 of those years. His tastes are wide as is exemplified by the variety of artist with whom he has shared a stage. He has performed with or opened for Ellis Paul, the Irish group The Chieftains, East LA Tex-Mex group Las Cafeteras, The Cowboy Junkies, New Age artist Larkin, native American songwriter Bill Miller and political folk songwriter Dan Bern amongst others. 

Categorized as a folk musician he accepts that and on some level even agrees but his influences range far beyond that and they all contribute to the ‘folk’ music that he creates. Analysis of his tunes would find things like odd meters, Floydian textures, and the occasional stinging guitar solo. Then there are the lyrics... well there are those who have described him as the Dark Prince of Cleveland Folk. 

Never one to be pigeonholed John uses whatever he has at his disposal to present his music. As of late for live performances it is his trio of Jay Bentoff (bass) and Sheela Das (flute,whistles, guitar). When in the studio he grasps for whatever it is that will get his music across in a manner that makes him happy. Whether it’s loops and programs and virtual instruments or the more traditional types, one will usually find him using all and blending them in a most unique way. Boundaries are for breaking.. 

His first release “The Sun” was a more acoustic effort. His 2004 release “Songs For Troubled Times” turned up the volume both musically and lyrically as it found him commenting on the socio-political landscape of the country at the time. His 3rd release 2008's “Stained Bliss” finds a balance between the two all the while exploring new territory musically and lyrically. The political is still there in bits. Don’t expect that to go anywhere anytime soon. Yet this time round there was more. Prejudice, religion, aging, despair, even love! 

In 2014 he cranked up the out put releasing first "Merchant of Sorrow" in the spring followed by "Dust" the following fall. Why 2 in one year. Because he can. His creative muse is not constrained by time or dates. These albums continue his exploration of both the acoustic and electric realms. Lyrically he continues mining the darker side of life. While the political seems to have been reduced (although while John claims it wasn’t the case there are those who point to Diamonds and Gold as being a very accurate description of Donald Trump!) 

Since then he has released "Singles Volume One"(2018), Not Angry......MAD!!!"(2020) possibly his finest yet, "The John McGrail Trio LIVE" (2021), and "Singles Volume Two"(2021) and Singles Volume Three (2023).  

In the fall of 2023 He released yet another masterpiece “Sigh”.  The latest release by John has him touching on a variety of topics, issues and emotions. A potent variety of musical ideas from mass shooters to interpersonal relations, to the day to day things, to what we look like from the outside, to the contradictory, to the time to end things, to the idea that together we are stronger and more!!! Possibly his finest release to date.  Then again there is a lot of competition for that title!





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