Bruce McCabe was born in Maquoketa and raised in Clinton, Iowa. He played keyboards and guitar at a very early age, taking classical piano lessons before discovering The Beatles, Ray Charles, and the Blues. He had a band in Clinton during his high school years, and eventually ended up in Minneapolis with a band called Aces, Straights & Shuffles. The band featured the vocals and harmonica of Kim Wilson, who was soon coaxed into moving to Austin, Texas by Jimmie Vaughan to form The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
McCabe would go on to spend considerable time in two very popular area bands – The Lamont Cranston Band (who are coming to Blues On Grand on March 15th) and The Hoopsnakes. Bruce was on the keyboards when the Lamont Cranston Band was selected as the opening band for some shows by the Rolling Stones. They also toured with Bonnie Raitt and opened for the great Muddy Waters during Bruce’s tenure with the band.
McCabe has been an integral part of Jonny Lang’s band since shortly after meeting him when he opened for The Hoopsnakes when Lang was 14 years old. After being blown away by Jonny’s talent and soul, Bruce soon joined forces with the young man, contributing his tremendous keyboard mastery, along with his excellent songwriting. “Rack ‘Em Up” is a McCabe composition and he also co-wrote “Lie To Me,” two of the most notable songs from Lang’s smash major-label debut. Lang has gone on to be one of the biggest-selling Blues artists of all time and the band has toured with The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, B.B. King, among others. Bruce has had a big hand (or hands) in that success.
McCabe, backed by Jonny’s band, has also recently released his own self-titled CD on Ryan Cory Records, which includes guest spots from Lang and Pat Hayes. McCabe can also be heard on recordings by Luther Allison, Bernard Allison, James Solberg, Shannon Curfman, R.J. Mischo, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, and G.B. Leighton, among others. For more information on Bruce McCabe, log on to Blues On Stage at www.mnblues.com. (Thanks to Ray Stiles for permission to use the info from his interview with Bruce.)
– Don “T-Bone” Erickson
PHOTO © RAY STILES