What do you call a man who grew up with a folk and bluegrass musician for a
father, played punk rock in high school, honed his chops in blues clubs, studied
classical music in college, and defies categorization in his current endeavors?
Reverend TJ McGlinchey
album, Tell Me To Stay, is strongly rooted in American folk music, but the
Reverend’s diversity is evident throughout, whether in the bluesy “There Was A
Time,” the vintage rock ‘n’ roll of “Little Red Car,” the reggae-inflected “Too
Much,” or the pulsating Latin romp “Oye Bella.” A successful album release show
at World Café Live in January, 2012 was swiftly followed by airplay on WXPN,
cementing McGlinchey as one of Philadelphia’s hottest new recording artists. But
this multi-faceted talent had already spent the previous ten years building up a
reputation the old-fashioned way.
Having grown up in
Drexel Hill and Lansdowne, McGlinchey stayed in Philadelphia’s western suburbs
to take his solo act to the open mic scene. During this time period,
McGlinchey proved that the secret to networking is merely to put yourself out
there and meet people. In Ardmore, he met the band Stillwillis, whose membership
just so happened to include Hezekiah Jones, Chris “Griz” Grunwald, and Matt
Helm. Out in Media, he met another developing artist by the name of Dani Mari.
Within the following decade, all of these would become names to throw around in
the Philly-area music scene – McGlinchey’s included.
writing original material during these crucial years, his earliest songs
eventually landing places of honor in his first album: “Little Red Car,” “There
Was A Time,” and “Too Much.” The multi-instrumentalist began giving private
lessons at Troubadour Music in Wayne, PA and eventually spent a few years
studying music at West Chester University. But with the growth of his performing
and songwriting, he had to make an album. With the help of a Kickstarter
campaign and a lot of well-respected local musicians – including Hezekiah Jones,
Griz, Kiley Ryan, Adam Flicker, and co-producer Andrew Lipke – the Reverend
recorded and released Tell Me To Stay, a fully realized, fully professional, and
fully independent album.
Going to the
Philadelphia Folk Festival was a longtime family ritual for the McGlincheys, so
imagine how honored Reverend TJ McGlinchey was when, in 2012, he won a
Philadelphia Folksong Society contest to play that year’s festival. His Main
Stage performance in August was nothing short of a dream come true.
As his solo career
pushes on, McGlinchey also backs up Griz, Dani Mari, and Paige Allbritton, and
plays in the band A Fistful of Sugar. He and Dani Mari have also started a new
duo called Lovers League and co-hosted a popular summer concert series in South
Philly’s FDR Park. Now that he’s moved from the ‘burbs to the city, you can be
sure that wherever you go in Philadelphia, Reverend TJ McGlinchey won’t be too
far away. – S.J. Dibai
Photo by Howard Pitkow Photgraphy