Forrest McDonald was seven years old when he first heard blues man Josh White perform and as he puts it, “I was hooked!” This experience was augmented by the extensive record collection at the McDonald home, Jimmy Witherspoon and T-Bone Walker albums were favorites. Mrs. McDonald received a Martin D18 guitar for Christmas one year, and young Forrest began learning chords. In the summer of 1964 he hitchiked to NYC where he met and was influenced by Muddy Waters. By New Year’s Eve 1964, Forrest McDonald played his first live gig with a group called the Seagrams 7. Four members of the Seagrams 7 group, including McDonald, later became the Oxbow Incidents, which was a New England regional favorite in high schools, churches and colleges for five years. McDonald’s group, Pale Ryder, was formed with previous Oxbow Incidents band members, and included bass player Dave Hayes, who went on later to join and is still with Van Morrison.
The McDonald home was in close proximity to the location of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, where the musical talent on display consumed Forrest—he saw Ray Charles and Leadbelly perform and caught Bob Dylan’s controversial switch from acoustic guitar to electric. Backstage at Newport in 1969, Forrest played Jimmy Page’s Les Paul, trading licks with Page and Jeff Beck” it was incredible,” McDonald recalls.
McDonald joined the Boston Rock Symphony an 11-piece rock group backed by Arthur Fiedler’s 30-piece Boston Symphony Orchestra that year. While playing in the Boston Rock Symphony, McDonald met up with harp player James Montgomery, who played with McDonald in the Boston Rock Symphony. McDonald also played and toured with the Wadsworth Mansion, who had a Top-20 hit with “Sweet Mary I’m Coming Home.” The group toured with Alice Cooper and Edgar Winter and appeared on “American Bandstand” and “The Dating Game.”
In the early 70’s, McDonald relocated to Hollywood, where he met and formed The Force with Tony Carey and Bob Zinner. The Force and the reformed Wadsworth Mansion now called Slingshot performed regularly at The Whiskey, The Starwood, and the Hollywood Paladium, and for a two-year period, McDonald jammed on the Sunset Strip with Van Halen. During this time, McDonald met and recorded with Steve Perry (pre-Journey). McDonald met current band pianist Raymond Victor while touring supporting cutting the Kathi McDonald Insane Aslyum album for Capitol, and the two formed a fast friendship on a USO tour of Asia. Back on the west coast, McDonald stayed busy with studio sessions. He recorded with former members of Ike and Tina Turner, played with Jimmy Reed and Bonnie Bramlett, and contributed the guitar solo to Bob Seger’s mega-hit “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The Seger track actually recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio brought McDonald south.
As Forrest tells it, he was visiting his father in Alabama, and suggested they drive to Muscle Shoals to “see what’s going on.” So they made their way to the studio. “When I walked in and met [producer] Jimmy Johnson, he asked me if I had my guitar with me. So I put on the headphones, plugged in my guitar, and gave him a solo.” McDonald must have impressed the crew at Muscle Shoals: two months later, the studio called to tell him that Bob Seger purchased the track for his Stranger in Town album!
Forrest McDonald and Raymond Victor played together for 35 years — according to one fan, “the result is what a partnership like theirs can produce against all the impediments us blues lovers know exist. Listening to Forrest and Raymond is like watching a perfectly executed pas de deux!” To duo have toured the world over, performing and recording with such luminaries as John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Roy Gaines, Bobby Womack, Luther Tucker, Silver Platinum and Gold, Roger Dollarhide, Marie Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other artists.
McDonald moved to Atlanta in 1991. His own label ~ World Talent Records ~provides a haven for the group, which was voted “Best Southern Blues Band” by Real Blues Magazine in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Southwest Blues magazine calls McDonald’s “glowing guitar” teamed with Victor’s “whiskey drenched gutter voice” a “winning combination.” McDonald credits his band mates for the remarkable sound on Finger Lickin’ Blues. “Drummer John McKnight takes the lead on ‘Who’s Been Talking,’ while Dave Parnell’s vocals really make the track ‘Blues in the Basement’ come alive. With his explosive horn solos and Raymond’s piano playing, it’s a pleasure to preserve some of those feelings with such authenticity!”
He also received the Just Plain Folks Music Award for Best Blues Album of 1999 for the Spirit of the Blues CD. Penned by vocalist Raymond Victor, the song “Work, Work,” appearing on What’s It Gonna Take? was voted Best Blues Song for 2000 by Just Plain Folks. Two of Forrest’s good friends Roy Gaines and James Montgomery appear on What’s It Gonna Take.
Following hot on the heels of What’s It Gonna Take?, 2000’s critically acclaimed release, Finger Lickin’ Blues released in July 2001 has increased the band’s appeal to an even wider range of blues fans. Finger Licking Blues reatures a great remake of the Classic “Ode To Billy Joe” with a great slide solo by Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin. As one reviewer stated Forrest’s version give me goose bumps on my goose bumps.
In 2004 a chance meeting occurred in 2003 between then Kaylon Ward and Forrest while recording Fiona Boyes Live in Atlanta. The two became good friends and soon were playing regularly together. Kaylon won the 1991 Atlanta female entertainer of the year award. Their first CD together was Nothing Wrong with Dreaming released in 2007. Their new release “Certified Blue”, April 2010, is the culmination of 3 years roadwork and it is fantastic.
In 2007 Forrest & Kaylon released her first CD together titled “There’s Nothing Wrong With Dreaming” on the World Talent Label.
In 2010 Forrest & Kaylon released “Certified Blue” The CD garnered great reviews in Living Blues and Blues Revue.
In 2014 Forrest and Kaylon went in seperate artistis directions. Kaylon persued her first love, Country music and Forrest returned to his Atlanta/Texas roots.
On February 20, 2014 Forrest recorded a new CD with his old Atlanta band adding his lifelong friend Tony Carey on the Keyboards. The new CD titled “Turnaround Blues” was released June 1 and received rave reviews.
With McDonald on guitar, Andrew Black on vocals, John McKnight on drums, Jon Liebman on harp & vocals, Lee Gammon on bass the band is as strong as bands get and then some.
In 2015 Forrest formed a new band that Won the River City Blues Challenge two years in a row and advanced to the semi-finals.
In February 2017 the band returned to the studio recording their latest CD Stand My Ground 2017(“World Talent Records “).
June 1, 2017 Stand My Ground is released to rave reviews. The Forrest McDonald Band puts on a live show that is not to be missed. The new CD’s are selling out at every performance.
Singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Forrest McDonald is a Journeyman in the blues rock music world. He defies any easy pigeonhole. His guitar work on Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock & Roll and Bobby Womack’s Roads of Life is instantly recognizable. He picks a great guitar and sings well-crafted upbeat songs about modern life. Lead Vocalist Becky Wright started singing at 6 years of age. She began with the band singing backup on Forrest’s CD Turnaround Blues. Her distinct vocal style is Certified Blue. Forrest often says you can’t go wrong with Becky Wright. She is truly a rising star on the Blues horizon. Keeping the driving beat is drummer John Hanes. He is also the most recent band member. On harmonica is veteran harp master Pix Ensign an Ohio and FL state Harmonica champion. On bass is the groove master Lee Gammon, who studied bass with Ellis Marsalis. Forrest’s Finger Licking Blues, Spirit of the Blues and Colorblind won the Just Plain Folks blues CD awards. Their last CD Turnaround Blues is nominated by JPF for Best Blues CD. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pandora Radio.
Music critics consider the veteran musician to be one of the great
Stand My Ground, the new CD from the Forrest McDonald Band, does exactly that . . . and it’s supported by more than a half century of Forrest’s passion for creating real music. It’s obvious from the first note the Forrest McDonald Band, featuring Becky Wright on vocals, has produced another flawless gem of a blues album. Black Jack Ketchum/WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM/wrfg.org
I fell in love with Stand My Ground in the first 12 bars. I listened to this CD several times over. It has great grooves. Forrest and his band are as tight as ever. Why Forrest McDonald’s music isn’t at the top of every blues chart is a mystery. If you get the opportunity to see them live, don’t pass it up! This entire cd is excellent! Forrest’s guitar playing has always been second to none. I do love Becky’s voice. A sensual balance of emotion with just enough grit to believe she means what’s she’s singing. Mary4Music.com
Turnaround Blues – This is blues/rock as it should be. A great mix that brings primarily original tunes together with some of the greatest classics ever written, this one shows not only McDonald’s songwriting skins but the band’s ability to take a cover tune, break it down and make it their own. Bottom line, this is as good as it gets with your clothes on. This is McDonald’s 12th release on World Talent Records and, in this old man’s humble opinion, worthy of a Blues Music Award (Handy) This is blues, top-notch and worthy of a spot among the greats. I recommend it highly to one and all with no exceptions.
Bill Wilson – Reflections in Blue
McDonald’s fiery guitar licks showcase his vast experience in blues-based rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. Raymond Victor’s gut-wrenching, blues-drenched vocals soar above, around, and through each tune building to a choke-hold that won’t loosen its grip until you jump up and boogie!
Black Jack Ketchum, Atlanta Blues Society/ WRFG 89.3
What’s It Gonna Take? is the group’s best effort yet and will hopefully deliver the respect and recognition in the industry that they deserve. I can’t take it out of my CD player!
The Blues Stalker, Suncoast Blues Society
McDonald is a versatile guitarist who shows his best licks on the Jimmy Witherspoon jump tune “Call My Baby.” He also shows the ability to play in more of a Santana jazzy-style and to get down with a slow blues. What’s It Gonna Take? surpasses most independent releases in both quality of musicianship and production. Bill Mitchell, Blues Bytes
The latest musical outing, Finger Lickin Blues, from Atlanta’s very own Forrest McDonald ups the ante at the blues poker table. Even skeptical blues purists cannot scorn this 13-song disc. McDonald plants seeds of old Chicago and Texas traditions in fields of slow blues, fast blues, jazz and good time rock n roll.
Forrest himself said in the CD’s liner notes this was recorded in one take. What a good move. Finger Lickin Blues thrives on spontaneity. Put them ribs on. Butter them biscuits. Grab yourself a cold one. This is one mean mother living up to its name.
Gary Weeks, May 2002 Southwest Blues
Forrest McDonald – What’s it gonna take? Firey guitar player Forrest McDonald was born into the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas. He now calls Atlanta home. From there and between he pushed his playing with vocalist/keyboardist Raymond Victor. For more than three decades, the pair has worked for John Lee Hooker, Bobby Bland, Charlie Musselwhite, and the two special guests on this work ax man and vocalist Roy Gaines and Harp Wizard James Montgomery. You’ll find no bad music on this disc all the songs fit the ensemble like good tight gloves. Relax, kick back, throw on the McDonald and Victor and let the good times roll! Solid through and through, you just wont be able to keep up with the onslaught!
Mark A. Cole, January 2001 Big City Blues.
ALL INQUIRIES CONTACT:
Deloris Ward or Forrest McDonald (804) 477-4488
FORREST McDONALD is available exclusively through World Talent Records and Entertainement
(804) 477-4488 phone and fax
For more information E-mail World Talent Records
Blues Matters CD Review
THE FORREST McDONALD BAND
BLUES IN A BUCKET
World Talent Records
Forrest McDonald might not be a household name but the 70-year-old has 15 albums to his name and shows no sign of letting up. McDonald has written or co-written all eleven tracks here and is a guitarist of some note. Lead vocals are provided by the most part by Andrew Black with the exception of two tracks where Becky Wright takes centre stage. Two tracks here were inspired by the death of Forrest’s brother Steve last year, the first Blue Morning Sun, tells the story of receiving the sad news whilst out on road. Great vocals by Black on what must have been a tough call. The other, Go To The Light is uplifting with positivity and gospel spirituality. The album opens with Boogie Me Till I Drop and is a big fat sound with horn section and boogie piano. Blues in The Basement is a heartfelt slow blues with some excellent keys adding texture provided by guest Tony Carey whose CV includes Rainbow, Pat Travers and many more. Blues In A Bucket, the title track is a more traditional Chicago blues, as is Windy City Blues with its Pinetop-esque piano and understated brass. Forrest plays wonderful guitar throughout, always giving the songs just what they need. Never any flash or pyrotechnics for the sake of it, every note treated like a thing of beauty. This is especially true on Misery And Blues, the solo towards the end perfectly in keeping with the song. Powerhouse features Becky Wright on vocals and is a slow burner, as the vocals build Forrest is providing the kind of guitar playing dished out at the crossroads. Going Back To Memphis is funky, upbeat and full of good vibes with Tony Carey again guesting and taking it to another level. The closer Let The Love In Your Heart is another upbeat optimistic song with a great harp solo by Pix Ensign and features both Becky and Andrew providing vocals. Forrest covers lots of styles of blues on this and all with aplomb. He’s a seasoned performer whose has gathered a great set of musicians around him and produced a top-class album.
Blues In A Bucket - Forrest McDonald Band - World Talent Records 2019
Review by David Bowling
Veteran songwriter and guitarist deluxe Forrest McDonald will release his 15th album early next month. He will turn 70 during 2020, and while this is retirement territory for many people, McDonald shows no sign of slowing down as Bucket Of Blues is one of the strongest albums of his career.
McDonald has always been an excellent songwriter and on his newest release, he wrote of co-wrote all 11 tracks. The songs range from thoughtful to explosive, which are helped by a horn section. Except for two songs where he assumes the lead, he turns over the vocal duties to Andrew Black and special guest Becky Wright.
“Blues In The Basement” is a slow blues tune powered by McDonald’s guitar and Black’s vocal. “Blue Morning Sun” is a poignant piece lamenting the loss of his brother to cancer.
“Boogie Me Till I Drop” is the album opener and a good party song that presents another part of McDonald’s musical persona. Becky Wright’s lead vocal on “Powerhouse” brings a different perspective and textures to the album’s music. The brass section brings extra energy to “Windy City Blues,” “Go To The Light,” and “Going Back To Memphis.”
Throughout the album, McDonald demonstrates his mastery of the guitar that he has developed over a near half-century career.
Blues In A Bucket travels in a number of directions but is ultimately tied together by incisive lyrics and McDonald’s guitar licks. A good way to start your 70th year.