About the artist
Picture it: You’ve gone out for the night looking for a drink or two and, hopefully, the good times that usually come with them. You pick a spot. It’s cool, but unassuming, like all the best bars you don’t tell anyone else about. The door opens, beckons you inside, a place where everyone knows your name (or at least soon will), but then – you hear it – the opening notes of a live band. Oh, God. Soon they’ll be playing louder than you’ve ever been able to think, much less yell an order to a bartender. You’ll give it ten minutes, you say. That’s enough for a first round, and hopefully not a headache. But it won’t take ten minutes for you to learn: the band onstage is no ordinary bar band. The band onstage is John Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner, led by John Pedigo himself, and ten minutes in you’re finding a seat closer to the front.
It’s more than just live music. It’s world-class entertainment. This is a performer that’s seen the world, played the concert halls, headlined the bills. It’s like you’re back in Tin Pan Alley – music, humor, energy, camaraderie, audience participation. Pedigo wheels around the stage like an old-school late night host, deftly trading banter with both bandmates and the front row, ordering drinks from the stage, turning phrases in song that wring tears from the most hardened heart, and in turn laughter from the most stoic listener. Keys, drums, bass, guitar, vocal harmonies, and stunning lyrics play off of each other like old friends. And it’s no act, either – no two shows are the same, and even well-practiced songs feel off-the-cuff and spontaneous in a way only a master – and his masterful band – could pull off.
As the saying goes, there must be something in the water. That certainly may be true in Dallas, Texas, where John Pedigo grew up. But in his case, maybe there was something in the beer? His late father provides the inspiration for the band name – his home-brew ‘Magic Pilsner’ was supposedly anything but. Crafted in the kitchen sink, Pedigo says that’s where it usually ended up, too, as it was undrinkable. But its legacy was cemented when it became the name of his father’s bowling team, and now, Pedigo’s own band. The project came together in the late years of his father’s life, serving as a poetic method of working through the difficulty of losing a parent, and providing Pedigo a fresh, more introspective act through which to channel these thoughts, memories, feelings. The Magic Pilsner lives on – a tribute to the man that still serves as his inspiration.
And what a band they are, honoring his father’s memory with virtuoso musicianship. A crack team of Dallas players, each legendary in their own right. All come together under Pedigo’s eye (and ear) seamlessly, organically, with the reserved ease and skill of industry veterans. It’s true that Pedigo’s years onstage have given him a prowess most yearn for – he’s toured the world with his bands Slick 57, Boys Named Sue, Rose County Fair, and the O’s, and even done time with the country-punks Vandoliers – but his time offstage is as much a part of that picture as anything. The man spends a great deal of his time producing award-winning records for Old 97’s, Joshua Ray Walker, and Vandoliers, lending his talents to up-and-comers and established acts alike and earning praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and American Songwriter.
Those publications haven’t been silent on his Magic Pilsner, either – lauded journal No Depression called their debut, self-titled record “complex, ethereal, elegant, and substantive; provoking thoughts about the choices and situations in daily life.” Old 97’s own Rhett Miller offers his own take: “[PMP is a] beautiful set of songs that perfectly walks the line between hilarious and heartfelt. [John] Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner is a triumph. Drink up, y’all.” And there’s more to come. Clearly a man like John Pedigo has no time to slow down, but – maybe – there’s some inspiration to be found in the downtime. He’s whipped up a new batch of songs to follow up his debut, calling the band together for another round of raucous, perfectly-tuned tunes about everything from California beach getaways to humorous takes on political pundits and, naturally, a healthy dose of heartbreak and poignant introspection. The first singles are on their way now.
It’s a rare inspiration to listen to a man that’s both done it all and is far from being done; at the top of his game but with new adventures on the way. John Pedigo is undoubtedly that man, the Magic Pilsner is undoubtedly that band. Consistently delivering complex emotion and lyricality over catchy, memorable music – with a joke or two thrown in for good measure – is no mean feat, yet that’s stock in trade for John Pedigo. You’d be lucky to stumble in on a show blindly, but hey – you’re reading this. You’ve already seen the light. Buy the record, see the show. Now is the perfect time to buy a round of John Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner. Remember, there must be something in the beer.