The name McGinty is well-known to local music fans, who are accustomed to seeing jeweler Chuck McGinty and his brother Frank perform as two parts of the rock band Mid-Life Crisis.
But another generation of musical McGinty is looming on the horizon, ready to make a name for himself beyond Southeast Missouri. Last October 22-year-old Foster McGinty hopped on an airplane bound for New York City with the goal of realizing his dream of playing his original, vintage-rock-style music in the Big Apple, using the city as a starting to point to launch a bigger career.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Foster makes his homecoming with the Foster McGinty Trio, which includes Bulgarian-born musicians Rossen Nedelchev on drums and Trifon Dimitrov on bass. The performances will take place at Port Cape Girardeau.
McGinty talked via cell phone with the Southeast Missourian Tuesday, fresh off his shift at a SoHo vintage clothing store.
Foster McGinty: Ever since I can remember I've been around guitars ... it all started with Uncle Chuck, who has just been at it around the area forever. My dad actually got into that because of him, Dad used to tag along with him to different band jobs. I was probably five or six when he started getting instruments, and I owe a lot of my interest in music to my dad and my uncle. Dad's always had like [Eric] Clapton on, guitar-influenced music, and now I listen to it religiously, even still. They really turned me on to rock 'n' roll. They're both still at it in Mid-Life Crisis, and they let me sit in from time to time, which is kind of fun.
MS: When did you start playing guitar?
FM: I was actually in the seventh grade. We had a music room but nothing had been touched for a while, and I just walked down there one day and took the guitar out of the case and started fiddling around. I think I actually wrote a song, in fact. I had no idea what I was doing, and it just gave me an incredible feeling.
Since then my grades dropped and my interest in music grew.
MS: What was behind the decision to head out to New York?
FM: I've always wanted to do that ... I would daydream about it during school. I headed out to California first. I actually helped Stephen [Limbaugh] and Ben [Carter] from Vintage out with a few tunes ... and I lived near them in California for a while, but that didn't work out too well -- I was too young, I had no musical direction.
I moved home from there and got enrolled in SEMO again and, in fact, when I left L.A. I was done with music. But I found the guitar again, or it found me, and I started writing and started singing, so I'm a young singer, I haven't done this long at all. But I started singing and writing and after a semester at Southeast I put a trio together and toured last summer with them and it went incredibly well. I made a little bit of cash doing that and working, so I thought I'd go for it and see what I could do in the big city.
MS: So what's New York like for you?
FM: Now I can kind of give people directions here and there, but as far as street noise is concerned, if a horn honks or a big firetruck goes by or a loud noise goes off I'm that small-town guy that jumps and gets startled. There's a lot of stuff out here I love, and there's just as much I'll never get used to.
MS: What's the lifestyle like for a young musician trying to make a name in New York? Starving artist?
FM: That's exactly what I've been doing. It's so expensive out here. ... Right now my apartment's eight by eight feet and I can't even stand up straight in it. It's definitely been the starving artist thing -- I know what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. My parents have been very gracious. If I ever get in a pinch they back me up. My mom would die before she'd let her son starve on the New York streets.
MS: I bet you try to spend a lot of time out of the house.
FM: I love getting out. The only time I'm here in fact is writing, it's like my little writer's niche.
MS: You've met at least one pretty big musical name out there, right?
FM: The coolest one so far has been ... Ellis Hooks, who's played with Keith Richards and calls [Eric] Clapton a personal friend. I actually did a thing with him at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park. His brother, it turns out, lives above me ... and I did some recording work for his album, I played lead guitar on it, and Ellis actually heard it and asked who it was and I was flattered when he asked me to accompany him on this gig, and we're scheduled to do some more stuff in the future.
I think I was more relaxed doing that with him than I am with my own stuff. In the trio thing, I'm the only guitar player and I'm singing, so you can tell when I mess up. But with him I felt a little more comfortable, ironically. I was expecting to be a little bit jumpy, but I was proud of how I handled it.
MS: You're putting together songs for an album now, right?
FM: That is right. I have hopes, I've not set the date, but I've been in contact with the people at Electric Ladyland, that's Jimi Hendrix's old studio; he actually lived above that for quite a while, too. That's where I'm wanting to do this next album, which I'm calling "State of Mind Music Box." I call it that because it's basically ... whatever's in my head at the time I'll write about it. I've written tons and tons of songs but about 14 have made the cut.
I plan to start recording that in November.
MS: So what's your music like?
FM: Clapton's always had a huge influence on me, but even more than Clapton it's been Jimi Hendrix. His band was a trio his whole career. I like to think of it like ... if Jimi Hendrix and Cream had a lovechild, I'd like to be it. I have that influence, and you can hear it crystal clear in my music.
MS: So why are you heading home?
FM: I'm paying to do rehearsals out here ... it really takes a good chunk out of your weekly spending money. I'm wanting to get this album going in November and I'm wanting to get the tunes down really well and my father has a home studio, so we're going to start putting some concepts to the test and seeing what's going to make the cut and what's not.
I'll be there a week.
MS: With all the rehearsal that probably won't leave much time to see friends except for at the shows.
FM: Right. That's part of my motivation doing the shows, it's like killing two birds with one stone, I can get a chance to play for everybody and see everybody again that I haven't seen in nine months.
MS: So what if "State of Mind Music Box" doesn't get major label attention? Will you keep going?
FM: I'm out with something to prove. I'm gonna die trying. I just have this belief in it, and the passion and the joy I find in this is priceless.