Check out this little video that I shot of me creating a "jingle" to help me remember one of my favorite affirmations from Wallace Wattles' book, The Science of Getting Rich.
I am so proud to announce that my voice student, Julia Baer, recently came in first place in Skokie Idol's teen division! The contest began on Jan. 20, and each week, singers performed in front of a live audience at the Skokie Theatre. The audience and judges voted to eliminate one person each week until the final round on April 6. As part of her prize, Julia will be performing at Wednesdays on the Green in Skokie on July 10. Congrats, Julia!
I don’t like coffee, I LOVE coffee. I’ve been drinking it since I was 11 because I wanted to be cool and “ma’ chrr.” I drank it black because that’s how my mom drank it, and she was cool. Through the years I’ve heard it’s bad for you, only to read an article six months later saying it’s good for you. I gave it up for Lent once.
I also gave up alcohol for Lent the same year, which turned out to be very informative when it came time to look at my drinking for real. Coffee — strong coffee, like, you can float a horseshoe in it strong — is my cocktail of choice now, and yes, I know — I’m substituting. Yep, I sure am.
So, I pretty much know where I can get a good cuppa in every port. Very much like when I moved to New York City in the ’80s and my sister, Brenna —who’d already been living there a year — gave me the 411 on everything from the best grocery store to the best laundry (though they still have a shirt of mine because I lost my ticket) and best of all — best rest room, the Bonwit-Teller on 57th and 5th. And of course, I discovered, you can get a great cup of coffee just about anywhere in New York City.
But now I am back home in The City of Big Shoulders, and I must say, Chicago is no slouch when it comes to the lifeblood either. A new chain of shops has been opening in Chicago and they use oat milk as a non-dairy alternative. YUM! Oat milk cappuccino — my new fave for caffeine delivery. In a lovely cup, table by the window, breathe, eyes closed, sip, not a problem in the world.
One of the chain’s shops is in a very hip neighborhood where my son, Denvir, hangs out and works, so, last week I texted him to say I was going to be in the ’hood and did he want to meet for coffee? As I was walking up to the door, a good looking man was going in at the same time, we smiled, and he went to pull the door open for me. After a couple of tries we both notice it says “push.” We laugh, and he says; “I see pu— and figure, yeah, I can take it from here.” Oh, cute and funny? Hello!
We walk up to the counter, and I let him order first. He’s friendly and upbeat with the wait staff, and then he inquires about their OAT MILK ICED COFFEE! He orders two and then turns to me and says, “What will you have?” Whoa. I hesitated as if to say, “Really?” He reassures me and I ordered my fave.
I move over to the next counter to wait, feeling elated by the exchange. His order comes up, he steps up to get them, and I notice he’s wearing really cool shoes. Guys, you most likely know this by now, women are into shoes. ANY shoes. My order is next. His are to go. I’m going to stay and savor the moment.
I find my table near the window to wait for my kid, and look up. Mr. Dreamboat is at the door, hands full, we laugh a little and I want to motion for him to “Pull,” but we both get the knowing comic look, and he pulls the door open to the beautiful day and the lucky person who getting the second iced oat milk coffee from him.
Later, I realized that exchange actually healed something. Twice before, I had visited this shop and gotten slightly irritated. Once, I was cut off as I entered by a really rude dude. This fellow went right by me as I reached for the door, and was completely oblivious to anyone around him while he was checking his phone and made sure he got to the counter first. He seemed high to me. My son came around the corner at the same time and witnessed this sleepwalker and we just gave each other the “What the hell?” look. Which of course I love, because he gets protective of me, and wants to confront the jerk — ahh… my prince of a kid!
The next time was a few weeks later, and it happened again. I think it was THE SAME GUY! Honestly, what are the chances? This time, though, I was in a good place and just blew it off.
So, life is balance, yes? Even when it doesn’t seem like it, I still believe that everything is in divine order. I believe in the unseen world, and that we are in the field of infinite possibilities like fish in water. I believe that I am in the flow if I choose to be — not pushed, but led, by this field.
And we always have a choice. So, which scenario will I call up now? The dreamboat one, of course! That’s the one that brings me joy and lifts my spirits and my vibration. Because I want joy more than I enjoy complaining. Thank you, dreamboat man, for passing it on and paying it forward.
Oh, the ripples of a random act of kindness — as delicious as a good cup of coffee with a beautiful heart on top. Yum!
Can you ever go home again? According to author Tom Wolfe, no, you can’t. However, I will be testing that theory on Aug. 24 when I perform with my band at The Raue Center for the Arts in my hometown of Crystal Lake, IL. I am excited and nervous. They probably feel the same, right?
I’m doing my show “Dedicated to The Ones I Love: Great Women Singers of the ’50s, ’60s, & ’70s.” I love doing this show because these are songs I fell in love with and to, sung by the women who inspired me to sing in the first place. But the title of this show is especially meaningful as this performance will be dedicated to Crystal Lake itself and the many people who helped me become the artist I am today.
I’ll also be performing at my favorite venue, SPACE in Evanston, on July 29 with special guest and friend Freebo, a renowned bassist and singer-songwriter who has performed with everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Loudon Wainwright and more. Get ready to be impressed when you visit his site!
Here’s wishing you a glorious summer and I hope you can join us for music, memories and merriment! (Oh, and to see my new hair…)
Hello Friends, Fans and Family,
Happy Holidays! Here is a song from my Season of Light EP that I wanted to post to say “thanks” for all your support this past year.
There’s also a new place to see/hear my music: https://megonmcdonough.hearnow.com/. I hope you check it out. It’s wonderful!
Thanks again, and may you be safe, warm and happy this season.
This summer, I decided to do something for the kid in me. I signed up for camp! In July I spent five days at SummerSongs East, a songwriting camp in Stony Point, NY. Although I teach songwriting myself, it was great to get the chance to be a student and learn from other nationally-known touring artists and work on my craft.
We spent the days sitting out at picnic tables, under the shade of big, leafy trees and immersing ourselves in every aspect of songwriting from song arranging to co-writing, performing and more.
I also took a guitar/music theory class with musician extraordinaire Vito Petroccitto. Vito is an amazing teacher who insists on keeping it simple and relaxing. I found a lot of comfort when I realized I knew a lot already, and it was a wonderful refresher.
Abbie Gardner was another favorite teacher/artist of mine who taught a class entitled How to Get Unstuck. It was like taking thorns out of songwriters’ paws!
But my favorite class was called Shadow Songs with Steven Prasinos.
Dr. Steve started class with a guided meditation. As he spoke, I had a vision of a woman rising up out of the water. She was wearing a green dress and had long, flowing hair and long arms, and I couldn’t quite tell if she wanted me to pull her up from the water or whether she was ascending, like a goddess. In my meditation, I reached over to her and took her pulse, feeling strong and confident as I helped her.
When I awoke from the mediation, I was confused about exactly what the vision was trying to tell me, but I knew it would make for a great song. Dr. Steve was trying to encourage us to embrace both our dark and light sides, but for me, his class really inspired me to write a song that connected with something deep and soulful within me.
A few days later, I was driving home, still mulling over my goddess song, and I got a call from my marketing maven, Lauren, who said she had written a song called that she wanted to collaborate on. When I listened to her sing it on my voicemail I had to laugh. Here I’d gone to song camp and wrote this deep, Jungian song and Lauren, back here in Chicago with her newborn, Betsy, wrote a fun, upbeat song called, “I Wanna Go To The Beach”! Love that.
The entire experience at SummerSongs was so much fun, and I was grateful to be able to return home with lots of great ideas to share with my songwriting students at the Music Institute of Chicago, as well as for my own writing.
If you would like to write a song, come to one my songwriting classes or contact me and let’s get started!
Recently I saw a video of Fred Rogers accepting a lifetime achievement award at the Emmys in 1997, and in his speech he asks the audience to take 10 seconds and think about all the people who cared about them, believed in them, and helped them become who they are.
Watching that video was truly profound for me as it made me think about all of the people who have helped me along my way in my career. Everybody needs help, and I’ve received so much help from so many people.
Of course, not everyone I’ve met along the way has been supportive. I’ve also been through some terrible business dealings with sharks, but even those people have taught me a lot about what not to do in the future. But I think the ones who’ve made the biggest impact on my career are still looking down on me.
There was my first manager, Dorothy Danca, who submitted my demo tape of original songs when I was 14 to the WLS Big Break Radio Contest, which I not only got in, but won first place! I won a recording contract with Mercury Records and Ludwig drums.
Of course there was my mom, who was my first voice teacher and coach. She would tell me, “If you’re not going to enunciate, I can’t listen to your song.” ARGG! But to this day, I know people can understand the lyrics I am singing. And while there’s a thin line between help and pushing, between encouraging and being a stage mother, I will always be grateful for her advice, help and encouragement. It’s tough to be a parent of a kid who has a gift and passion for something. I’m pretty sure I was the most stubborn know-it-all at times! She was so smart about what worked, from fashion to song performance, and I didn’t want to admit that when I was young, but she was right every time.
And there was Sister Mary Martha who was my 5th grade teacher. She was from Ireland and about four years older than water. She would say, on a regular basis, “Dare to be different!” I took her advice!
And there was Bobby Monaco who produced my single for Mercury and who gave me a chance to move to California, live with him, his wife Patty and their two kids while he shopped for a record deal for me.
And I can’t forget Christine Lavin! I met Chris in 1979 in Aspen, CO, while playing a gig at The Jerome Hotel. She came in to the club after her gig to see if the woman singing was the same Megon McDonough whose LP she had heard while living in Florida, and loved. More good has come to me in my career as a result of my friendship with Chris than I can say.
And, of course, there were all of the amazing singers that I heard on the radio growing up: Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Cher. and more. I remember wanting to be these women, dressing like them, mimicking them by singing their songs into a hairbrush in the living room, hoping I could someday be in their shoes.
Recently, I’ve updated my show, Her Way, and renamed it Dedicated To The Ones I Love: Great Women Singers of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, where I am honoring some of these women who inspired me and my generation.
I’m so excited to put this show up and pay homage to all of those I’ve looked up to and those who looked out for me. Hope it inspires you, too!
I was just in California with the amazing and fun Four Bitchin’ Babes. We were mostly in northern California, and afterward I spent a few days in Los Angeles seeing friends and celebrated 32 years of taking life One Day at a Time.
On my way to LAX, I stopped at a beautiful café to squeeze the last bit of California girl out of my time there before getting on my flight back home. So, I get my coffee and gluten-free, $6 blueberry muffin and turn to find a table, and who is sitting there but film producer, author, curiosity expert and all-around brilliant creator Brian Grazer. Y’all he produced SPLASH! One of my all-time faves, among so many other great movies and TV shows.
Now, of all the people I could have spotted in Hollywood, Brian Grazer is in my top three. He is truly one of my heroes.
I didn’t say anything to him, but instead, smiled — and winked. What the hell? I winked! What? It was just an automatic response. He looked deep in thought, and I don’t think he even connected it, thank heavens.
I ended up sitting outside to take in the last bit of gorgeous California, and I took a peek inside to see him sitting and talking with a few folks, and realized I was witnessing a Brian Grazer meeting!
I finished my excellent cup o’ Joe, gathered my notebook and backpack, and headed for the airport, elated.
Elated to be so blessed to make a living at what I still love to do — sing and entertain. Elated and grateful that I still have heroes and mentors and people who help me every day realize my vision. People who, whether I know them personally or just have a winking acquaintance with them, are doing great work that inspires me.
Lately, I have been working on a new show called “Dedicated to the Ones I Love: Great women singers of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s,” (kind of an updated, 2.0 version of my “Her Way” show), where I honor some of my musical heroes, from Connie Francis to Dusty Springfield to Cher. These women paved the way for me and countless others who love to sing and perform. I can’t thank them enough!
I hope you have heroes, and know that you are thought of as a hero, too… most likely by someone who smiles and winks at you.
Do you have your own business? I’ve been self-employed since I was 13, but I’ve had my own business for the last 20+ years. And maybe you’re like me in that you’re president and janitor of your own business. Yeah, I know, you look forward to firing your janitor, right?
Well, this week I start a 10-week business class for performers, and I must say, ALL of my resistance is coming up. Resistance is the enemy y’all, make no mistake about it, and this enemy is – if nothing else – stealth. (See Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art). I go from “bring it” to terror at Concord speed.
You know what intimidates me most about building my business? Technology. I feel shame for not being as tech savvy as I “should be.” Shame is Resistance’s favorite weapon. Shame will tell you so much ridiculous nonsense! I have always loved the acronym for shame: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. I think I’m supposed to already know a lot of what my teacher/coach is going to teach me before I even get to class!
I’m reminded of a boyfriend I had in the ‘80s, who was a really cute singer in a rock band who wanted to learn how to play guitar, but he kept putting off getting a teacher because he didn’t want the teacher to know HE DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY GUITAR!
I don’t know about you, but I could totally relate.
I know that having resistance to learning is about wanting to feel like I’m in control. But by not learning more about my business and how to make it grow, I stay small. Oy, it’s an awful catch 22 isn’t it?
So, I will let you know how it goes. I’m not going to make any promises.
I’m just grateful to be willing to learn. I’m willing to take a chance, make mistakes, fail, succeed — and in the words of one of my favorite therapists — commit to sucking!
“Every time I’ve succeeded, it has been for many different reasons, but every time I have failed, it has been for the same reason: I said yes when I meant no.” -- Moss Hart
Have you ever done that, said yes when you meant no? Yes, of course you have. You’re human! I’ve had the experience many times, mostly because I’m a recovering people pleaser, but also because I don’t ask enough questions before I answer an enthusiastic “YES!” And that is something I want to redirect. I want to give myself the gift of my own time. Especially time to check in with myself to ask three very important questions:
If you struggle with wasting time, or spending too much time on things you really don’t want to be doing, I wanted to share a few tips that I use to make my time really count.
So, there you have it my friends. As we prepare for spring, and the hard work that is most likely ahead of us just to be good citizens of the planet, take time for yourself. Say no when you need to so you have space for to say yes to something wonderful!
Megon's thoughts on singing, performing, and spirituality.