BnrGood.gif (2906 bytes)

Ian McLagan
At Bananas at Large

San Rafael, CA  October 2, 2000

Ian McLagan in San Rafael, California? San Rafael, the town in which the norm is to see housewives driving Mercedes minivans while talking on their cell phones, rather than a British musician strolling down the main street looking for a open restaurant while telling stories of a life that only a few of us could imagine? 

Ian was indeed in San Rafael, and it was a night that all will remember for a long time. Before this goes any farther, I have to say that if you own a copy of All The Rage, pull it out so you can reference the stories that appear in this write-up. If you don’t own a copy, stop reading this, get online, and go to to order the book (also pick up the CD).

Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan came to town while on tour with Billy Bragg and The Blokes to chat up his book All The Rage, and play a few tunes off his latest CD, ‘Best of British.’ My girlfriend and I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge from our house in San Francisco; we arrived a good hour before the reading, so we took a stroll down Fourth Street to grab a bite and a beer. I popped into a record store down the street and asked the clerk if he knew that Mac was in town. He didn’t, but word of mouth is as strong as ever… We made it back to ‘Bananas at Large’ and found only two people waiting. I grabbed a seat in the front row and took out the notes that I had prepared for the night. Mac was to start at seven; it was now three minutes to, and as I turned around, I saw the clerk from the record store with a few friends in tow.  

At this point, almost every seat was filled with the “fashionably on time” people of California. My girlfriend, Kerri, was trying to get my attention, as I was very busy working out a plan on how to pour a pint of Guinness for Mac from the stash that I had brought with me. A commotion in the back of the store turned out to be Mac preparing for the reading: before he came on, Mac had stopped to talk to the manager of the store and other workers, friends, fans, etc. I’ve met Mac before, and knowing how he is, I knew he was making time for all the new friends he undoubtedly makes anywhere he shows up.  

An ‘EQUINOX PRO’ keyboard stood on the stage; ‘Best of British’ was jamming out of the speakers. Mac walked on stage with a cup of tea (no milk) and a bottle of water; my plan of many beers would have to wait. With a smile and hello to the crowd, Mac broke into ‘Best of British.’ For most in the crowd, this was likely the first time that they had ever seen any former member of ‘The Small Faces’ or ‘The Faces’ live. I made note to look around to capture the reactions of the crowd. Why had they shown up in the first place? Perhaps they wanted to relive a moment from the past? Did they hope that there was going to be a “special guest?” I’m sure Mac has dealt with this many times before. He knows how to deal with it: he gets up on stage and plays his own songs, sings his own songs, and lets people know that it’s OK to embrace your past. But Mac won’t live on his past work; he has to do it better each time out, and with ‘Best of British,’ he shows you that he is moving forward and is loving every minute of it!

Things were going great, Mac was singing, people were dancing and moving in their seats, people were singing along…yet, there was one small problem. Mac forgot the words to the second verse! “I’m sorry, how does that go…” Mac stood there for a moment and attempted to work it out. No luck; an employee of ‘Bananas at Large’ steps in and starts the CD. ‘Best of British’ starts playing, and Mac leans over and starts laughing, “No, no, I’ll work it out!”  

Clearly not the way that he wanted to start of the evening, but he made up for it. Without missing a beat, Mac broke into ‘Hello Old Friend.’ This version was far stronger than the CD version. I play the CD in my car, and Kerri has heard all the songs a thousand times; she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “He really has a great voice!” I laughed, but it made me think. There are too many groups/performers on the market today that need the help of studio magic to create a voice in the place of one that is not there. Not Mac. He has the voice, and he easily proved it.  

After   …Old Friend,’ it was now time for Mac to read from the book. I could spend the time retelling the stories from the book, but I don’t think I could capture the feel and excitement that Mac puts into his writing and reading (trust me: you need to buy the book). After a few passages from the book, Mac talked about his son Lee and the connection that he has with Billy Bragg; they were the inspiration for the song ‘Best of British.’  

Warm Rain,’ one of the best tracks off the CD, was the next song Mac played. The song pays homage to his adopted home state of Texas, where “the rain is as warm as the people.” Mac shared one tale not included in the book, from when he was granted his American citizenship.  As he stopped to talk to his neighbor (with Kim making a run for it!), he mentioned that he was a US citizen but needed some advice on how to be a citizen of Texas. “Mac…you see that dirt that you standing on?  That’s Texas soil…you’re a Texan!” Right then he broke into a wicked grin and told us that he had remembered the words to ‘Best of British’ and played the song all the way through with no problems – to huge applause at the end!  

It was now time for everyone to ask questions, and boy, was Mac ready! In the book, Mac explains that ‘Glad and Sorry’ is one of his favorite Ronnie Lane songs (and the song he heard soon after Ronnie died -- that story’s in the book). I asked about ‘Flags and Banners’ (from ‘Ooh La La’). “That (song) came from a dream that Ronnie had about his own brother.” Did he play on the song? “Of course, I played on everything.” I then mentioned that I wasn’t sure if Ronnie had played keyboards on demos and left them on the tracks for the album, at which point Mac looked at me and said, “I wasn’t sure if you could ever be sober!” (Referencing my condition the last time I saw Mac at the Saxon Pub in Austin.) That’s one for him, but I would get him back.

People asked some great questions. Did he know Jimi Hendrix? Are the Faces going to tour? (There had been an offer; Woody, Mac, and Kenny were up for it, but someone had their doubts. Gee, I wonder who that was!) What was it like playing on Woody’s first album? “I don’t remember much of the sessions.” How is Woody doing now that he’s not drinking? “He’s still quite mad, still great, except he listens to you now.” There were some questions that made no sense: Do you think Brian Jones was murdered? “I have no idea.”  

It was now time for another song. Mac told us that this was a new one he hopes to put out soon. It was called ‘Been A Long Time.’ If this tune is any indication of what Mac has in store for his next CD, it just proves that he is getting stronger with every release.  

An old friend of Mac’s told a story about being in the studio with him: one day Mac had come into the studio telling a story of his dogs and their habit of humping everything in the house, and to prove the point Mac started humping around the studio, imitating his dogs. With much laughter (and a little bit of embarrassment), it was time to end the reading and have a pint.  

People lined up and waited for Mac to sign anything they had with them. I saw Faces albums, Small Faces albums, Mac’s solo albums, the lyric poster from ‘Ooh La La,’ promo pictures and, of course, copies of All The Rage and ‘Best of British.’ Mac signed everything that they offered. I think that the best item presented that night was a copy of Thomas the Tank Engine by a three or four year old boy. When I asked Mac if that was his youngest fan, he smiled and told me that his granddaughter is his youngest fan!

After everyone cleared out, Mac invited a few of us out for a few pints at The Mayflower Pub, just across the street (leave it to Mac to find the only English pub in San Rafael!). The owner of the Pub, Tony, was delighted to have Mac in his bar and really wanted a picture for his wall. I had the only camera and arranged the shoot. You have to understand that Tony stands 6’4”, while Mac is quite a bit shorter, so when they got together and posed, I told Mac, “Stand up while I take this picture!” Mac was standing; the look on his face was priceless! (I told you I’d get him back for the “sober” remark.) 

After a few pints we all went out to find dinner. However, in San Rafael, everything closes early. After checking out the local Thai restaurant (Mac likes curry) – they were very nice, but remained closed – we tried the pizza place. They were shut down also. It was time to call it a night. I said goodbye to Mac and his friends.  

For anyone that doesn’t have the book or CD, buy them. For everyone who already owns the set, tell a friend.  Thanks, Mac – I look forward to the next big thing.   

David Marks
October 3, 2000


Special thanks to: Dave McNarie, Tony at the Mayflower Pub, and everyone at Bananas at Large (and Kerri)






Go Home Now

10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
What's Up?!
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)

10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)Lost now Found
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Kenney Thump
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
 Ronnie Lane
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Mac Mick Lag Un
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Pre-Petrified Wood
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Tetsu, CALL ME!
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
All Sorts of Photos
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Hear Faces talk about Phases of Faces
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Learn the Real Words
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Learn to Play with Yourself
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Links (and other odd sausages)10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
10pixSpacer.gif (79 bytes)
Sign It Now


visitor stats

Kenney     Plonk     Mac     Rod      Woody     Tetsu
Home     What's New     Sitemap      Discography     Sounds     Lyrics    Chords
Links     Forum     Guest Book

contact us

(c) 1999-2003  
Dave McNarie.  All Rights Reserved.