"M.G. Bailey stands out based on sheer, undeniable authenticity. Upon seeing him perform, there is no doubt that his complicated setup of pedals and processors and drums and jangly things is only onstage with him because it’s the most effective way he’s found to express his songs—and furthermore, there is no doubt that the songs take center stage."
M.G. Bailey Releases New Material, Fan Favorites
“I like when I hear a recording and I know that, in the world of recordings, it’s not good,” MG Bailey explains in his disarming Chicago-southside half-drawl, “but the band manages to get the message across. I don’t like records that sound like they’re made to be sold, I like things that are made in spite of the fact it might not sell, and then it sells anyway.”
Bailey, a gentle giant of a man armed with a formidable array of unconventional instruments, has been blending punk, blues, pop and soul influences for his entire musical career, without any regard to what sells at the time. His new record, Long Time Comin’, is a celebration of that no-fucks aesthetic, featuring new material alongside fully-realized re-recordings of old songs, all rough edges and loud noises camouflaging a remarkable knack for pop songwriting and mind-bending musicianship.
While Long Time Comin’ may be his finest hour to date, it’s also been…well, a long time coming. When his last band broke up in 2008, he found himself in his basement, tearing apart forgotten, half-broken instruments and duct-taping them back together to form the first loadout for his current venture. He experimented with electronics and looping for about a year and a half, but his mind kept returning to a street musician he’d seen in Memphis a decade previously, busking on Beale Street with a homemade guitar, a couple of drums, and a bucket on the ground. Feeling the pull of something more organic and tangible, he began incorporating things like found objects and analog effects pedals, tightening up his rhythm section chops, adding and removing elements from his live rig as inspiration struck or experiments fizzled.
“I’m a one-man band,” he admits, “but I’m trying to lose that image. I’m making these one-man band records for now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t compose songs for a full band, or add a horn section. I feel more of a kinship with punk bands and old blues musicians than with most people who fall under the ‘one-man band’ label.”
Indeed, M.G. Bailey stands out based on sheer, undeniable authenticity. Upon seeing him perform, there is no doubt that his complicated setup of pedals and processors and drums and jangly things is only onstage with him because it’s the most effective way he’s found to express his songs—and furthermore, there is no doubt that the songs take center stage.
Songs like the yearning “Worst Best” (a live favorite that’s finally seeing a proper release this year) and the raucous “Every Time” (recently played by James VanOsdel on Q101’s DEMO312) show deep emotions fortified with pure steel, the type of artistic expression that defies trends and fads, that proves there will always be an audience for big-hearted music with bigger guitars. The gorgeous, blues-inflected shuffle of “Soaked Streets of Blue Island” is a fittingly gritty ode to the south suburbs of Chicago that Bailey calls home, frequently overlooked or dismissed in conversation as well as in song, with some surprisingly nimble guitar running underneath a vocal performance dripping with drama and cynicism.
Still, it’s Bailey’s bracingly honest, jarringly emphatic self-assessment that may be the best descriptor of his music.
“I could care less about airplay, contests, awards, all of that shit,” he explains dismissively. “I feel like my most notable achievement has been to learn how to kick fucking ass at playing drums with my feet and singing and playing guitar at the same time.
“I'm really cool and I work really hard,” he says, without a shred of arrogance or a trace of irony, “and I still fucking party, but I also raise my kids.
“I just like music a lot.”
To interview M.G. Bailey, review LONG TIME COMIN', or share his music with your readers/listeners, please contact MGBaileyonemanband@gmail.com.