Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:April 19th, 2011 21:32 EST
McKinley & Beggs Perfect Timing!

McKinley & Beggs Perfect Timing!

By Tom Ski

With the departure of Brooks & Dunn from the country music world, fans across the globe are in desperate need of a country duo that blows their minds with fantastic lyrics and unbelievable performances.  Enter McKinley & Beggs.  This unimaginable duo can not be categorized as `upstarts` in the country music world.  Best definition?  McKinley & Beggs are a gift.  We have been speaking over the past few weeks about these two unbelievably talented men who came together to create the country powerhouse, McKinley & Beggs.  But these men are not just your run-of-the-mill performers.  These men are true writers to the core, and have penned some of the most amazing lyrics this world will soon have the good luck to hear.

Last week we spoke with Ronny McKinley, one of the two men who are about to take the country music industry by storm, and he gave us a brief overview of how McKinley & Beggs came into being.  This week, this writer was lucky enough to be able to speak with the other half` of McKinley & Beggs and - I can tell you first-hand - between the charming personalities, wit, and talent these two men own, I am truly surprised that McKinley & Beggs are not already being spoken about to receive honors at the 47th Academy of Country Music Awards to be given out just about a year from now.  McKinley & Beggs will become as synonymous with country music accolades as the great Brooks & Dunn, who won the Vocal Duo of the Year award almost every year from 1992 to 2006.  I can see the headlines now:  McKinley & Beggs, Vocal Duo of the Year every year from 2012 to infinity.

One of the amazing men who`s going to make this dream happen is Jody Beggs.  The Beggs in McKinley & Beggs, was playing in Gainesville, Florida before meeting up with Ronny McKinley.  In fact, just about two months before Beggs met McKinley, a man by the name of Danny Mayo saw Beggs perform and told him to come to Nashville.  For all of you out there who have been sleeping for a very long time J, Danny Mayo is not just `some guy.`  The great Danny Bear Mayo was the creative talent behind such hits as, Feed Jake, which was recorded by the American country music band, Pirates of the Mississippi; as well as, If I Had You, performed by the amazing Alabama.  Another unforgettable song Mayo created was, Keeper of the Stars, sung by Tracy Byrd.  Some of the most undeniably amazing lyrics came from the mind of Danny Bear Mayo who, quite obviously, knew talent when he saw it.  Hence bringing Jody Beggs to Nashville.

When Beggs met McKinley for the first time at a show they were performing at, they were both, at that time, headed to The Country Music Capital of the World separately.  But at that particular show, they`d agreed to keep in touch and, perhaps, if they both ended up back in Florida, they would catch up and form McKinley & Beggs.  (Country music fans everywhere can thank the Good Lord that happened).

But before the formation of this fantastic duo, Jody Beggs worked with Danny Mayo in Nashville, which was probably one of the most amazing times in Jody Beggs` life.  Perhaps it was being surrounded by writers, but Jody Beggs says that he learned a great deal during his time in Nashville.  Although he`d written some songs in the past, he`d been a performer mostly, yet, the writer within Jody Beggs` soul was born while living in Mayo`s basement.  There, Jody was given tracks that Mayo had written, and poured his heart and soul into his own writing.  Not to mention, almost upon arrival in Nashville, Jody Beggs met Steve Buckingham (Ricky van Shelton`s producer, among others).  Steve Buckingham told Jody Beggs that he should keep writing.  Even if he had to `flip burgers` to pay the bills, he should never let his writing slow down in any way, shape, or form.

As the journey towards McKinley & Beggs continued, McKinley and Beggs ended up in the home of Hank Cochran - a prolific songwriter who penned many hits for the likes of Patsy Cline, Ray Price, and more.  Hank had an apartment over his garage, that we told you about last week, where writers of all kinds came to write and play their music.  Ronny McKinley was at that apartment when Jody Beggs turned up on the scene, and when speaking with Jody Beggs, you can hear the awe in his voice when he talks about that amazing time with Hank Cochran.  He was allowed access to Cochran`s huge library of songs, demos, rough tapes - all the songs he`d written, whether they`d been released to the public or not - and the education that Jody Beggs received was truly a life`s dream.

This was a world of writing - a world where true talent sat together and created lyrics that were pure poetry.  True `stars` were in and out of that garage apartment, and Jody Beggs got to write with them all.  Even true treasures like a scratch demo by Willie Nelson that was never cut or saw the light of day, was in that apartment.  You can only assume this is one building that even Indiana Jones would kill to uncover.   

The journey toward McKinley & Beggs continued when, because of a family illness, Jody Beggs returned to Florida.  Going home to care for a family member, Jody Beggs left Nashville behind, taking with him some of the most incredible memories that, I assume, a country musician can have.  

Ronny McKinley had already returned to Florida, and when Jody Beggs arrived, he kept their pact and called Ronny to let him know that he was home.  Heaven smiled down on the world of country music that day, because McKinley & Beggs came to life.  McKinley & Beggs recorded an album to sell at the local `gigs` they played.   It is a tough business, country music.  There are simply very few labels out there, and so many individuals begging for a shot, that others go overlooked.  Having only a few `overlords,` lightning has a way of missing the truly great who are destined to become legends. 

With McKinley & Beggs, a break came in the form of a Good Samaritan with taste!  A man by the name of Smiley Garcia, who we spoke about last week, loved this band so much that he placed their demo into the hands of Mel Tillis` secretary.

Lightning struck, and the legendary Mel Tillis brought McKinley & Beggs into his office to chat.  Best thing that could possibly be said to a new country duo?  Mel Tillis wanted more.  And, McKinley & Beggs were placed on Mel Tillis` recording label. 

More and more songs were requested.  McKinley & Beggs have a ton written already, and still have many in their vault just ready to be chosen.  Even as we speak, McKinley & Beggs are at the studio, picking through the amazing tracks they`ve recorded, and sending the next album off to get it mastered. 

In the song, Keeper of the Stars, Danny Bear Mayo wrote a line that reads:  Heaven`s smiling` down on me.  I feel that to my very core when I hear the powerful, engaging, entertaining music that appears when McKinley & Beggs take the stage.  And, although I will miss Brooks & Dunn - as billions of others will - I am so unbelievably thankful that McKinley & Beggs are here to take the reins!

For Booking Information or to download Mckinley and Beggs music;