Ginny Mac, a true sensation in the Texas music scene, has been electrifying audiences with her exceptional accordion skills and mesmerizing performances. With her infectious energy and remarkable talent, she has solidified her place as a prominent figure in the world of Texas Swing.
Ginny Mac discovered her love for the accordion at a young age growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. Fascinated by the instrument’s rich and versatile sound, she dedicated herself to mastering its complexities and exploring its potential in the realm of Texas swing. Her dedication and passion have paid off, propelling her to become a true virtuoso on the accordion.
Ginny’s performances are a celebration of the accordion’s unique charm and versatility. Her technical proficiency and deep understanding of the instrument allow her to effortlessly navigate between upbeat and lively Texas Swing tunes, soulful ballads, and everything in between. Her ability to communicate emotions through the accordion’s expressive nature captivates audiences and leaves them craving more.
What sets Ginny apart is not only her remarkable accordion skills but also her ability to infuse her performances with an undeniable Texas flair. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Texas Swing legends such as Bob Wills and Milton Brown, she brings a fresh and modern perspective to the genre while staying true to its roots.
Ginny’s early love for music eventually landed her liking the Swing genre. “I knew I loved music from a young age,” says Ginny. “I used to sing myself to sleep listening to Dean Martin tapes! Then one day, a man played an accordion for an assembly at my school. I was intrigued. For my seventh birthday that summer, I asked my parents for an accordion. They thought the request was odd, but they rolled with it and put me in private lessons. Here I am, still playing today. I just fell in love and never put it down!
“One day I was walking in the Fort Worth Stockyards with my family, and overheard a cowboy group playing in the train station. It was the Cowtown Opry, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving western heritage music. They had a Buckaroo Club for kids, so I signed up for a membership and started coming out one Sunday a month to play and be a part of their youth mentoring program. I was 12 years old. This was where I learned the difference between Country music and Western Swing/Western music. What an education!”
Playing for a hometown crowd and traveling around the state challenged Ginny to broaden her horizon that included not only performing in the USA but other countries as well. She says, “I started in the Texas opry circuit when I was 12. At this time, I was singing classic Country music and not yet incorporating my accordion and piano skills. My mentors at Cowtown Opry encouraged me to learn to improvise on my instruments, as I had classical training, but was amazed at this whole new world of playing by ear. At this time, a nice man at the Mount Pleasant Opry told me about the Nashville number system, and then I was limitless! I started playing professionally within a couple of years. I’ve traveled all over the country since then, as well as playing overseas. I’ve played in Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, and traveled around in other parts of Europe, playing and jamming unofficially.”
Ginny’s performances included pairing with some well-known places and people in the industry. “Some favorite performances include the Grand Ole Opry with Riders In The Sky, ACL Fest and Festival Country D’Evreux (France) with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic with The Texas Playboys, and performances with Brave Combo for Drew Carey’s Improvaganza at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. It has also been a pleasure to play with some of my favorite artists, including Lyle Lovett, Floyd Domino, Mike Dillon, Ray Benson, Hot Club of Cowtown, The Time Jumpers, Tanya Tucker, Carolyn Martin, Kristyn Harris, and Brennen Leigh, to name a handful!”
Although traveling and performing before small and large audiences takes up a lot of her time, Ginny reserves some time for herself. “In my free time, you can find me watercoloring, dancing, hiking, biking, taking photos, and practicing Krav Maga. I love to travel and I make time for personal, non-gig trips when I can. It feels good to hop on a plane sometimes without an accordion strapped to my back! As much as I love to tour, everyone needs a break. A couple of things most people don’t know about me is that I absolutely love riding motorcycles. I’ve hopped on a few with total strangers. I’m a bit of a daredevil! Also, I love skydiving. Anyone wanna go with me next time? (This writer passes.)
“I’ve thought often about going back to school and getting a Masters in counseling. I dream of becoming a licensed therapist and helping others. The wonderful thing about that is it’s something I could do and still play music! I’m looking to make this happen within the next few years.”
Ginny delights in teaching others about Swing music and has this advice: “I would encourage someone to take the time honing their craft, and to follow their own heart/dreams/musical desires, and not listen to anyone else. The most important thing to me in my own art and musicality is authenticity. If you are building your own authentic creative experience, that’s going to come across to the audience, and the folks who are meant to love your music will, and will follow and support you through the years.
“The artist Hamell on Trial gave me the best advice about songwriting and it completely blew my mind — it changed the way I’ve approached my writing. He told me he does no less than 24 drafts of everything he writes…25! I used to write something and however it poured out was how it stayed. But there is something beautiful about really perfecting the words and message of a song, making sure you’re saying/playing exactly what you want to say, and it takes that level of analysis to get it right. He’s a fave writer of mine, as well as a new friend, Blind Texas Marlin out of New Orleans. Fantastic writers, both of them.
“I used to write a lot of love and heartbreak songs, but I’ve seen my themes shift to more positive messages about life, and lots of humor. I think I’m trying to express a more open and well-rounded view of the human condition. My goal in a live performance is simply to move people. Whether that’s moving them to tears or moving them to dance, I just want to tell a story!”
Ginny has a prediction about Swing music and her future works: “The future of Western Swing is in pretty good hands, I’d say. Our current generation of Western Swing performers were the last group to be mentored by the fellas who were part of the history of this music, and many played with Bob Wills. I learned from Tommy Allsup, Leon Rausch, Johnny Gimble, Bob Boatright, Tom Morrell, and many others. The genre is a little bit niche but there are still folks going out to shows and festivals. The Bob Wills Days festival in Turkey, Texas, has grown in the last few years, for example, and the crowds are getting younger, it seems! Young people and families have been getting involved and it’s wonderful to see.
“I recorded a project with Mike Dillon (an American percussionist, vibraphonist, bandleader, and vocalist born in San Antonio, Texas), which should be coming out on vinyl/streaming this winter. That was exciting and very different for me. It’s a little bit jazz, a little bit punk, a little bit folk, a little bit rock and roll! When I drove out to Kansas City with him last year, we sat with our instruments and thought, ‘Well, where are we gonna go?’ And then we just started writing collaboratively and fluidly. It was a blast and in 2024, I’m excited about releasing new music and touring some more.”
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Cover Photo Courtesy Ginny Mac
Bob Valleau is a regular entertainment contributor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine.