Mack's Musical Heritage
(1987 - 2017)
"The Hard Travelers
are dedicated to finding ways to use their music
as a vehicle to make a
difference in the world."
Roberts, John Glik, Ira Gitlin, Mack Bailey, Mike Munford
The Hard Travelers
have had several groupings of
outstanding musicians. A long established folk
group, they continued to perform exciting concerts and sponsor annual benefit
events for charity, through the
M.U.S.E. Foundation, founded by The Hard Traveler's remaining
original member, Kenn Roberts. Over the years, Mack became the center
piece and lead of this band.
Kenn Roberts, Mack Bailey, Mike Munford, Jon
Glik, Marc MacGlashen and Ira Gitlin were The Hard Travelers. For more than 30 years The
Travelers delighted audiences from DC to Japan. As members of a
fraternity at the University of Maryland, The Hard
Travelers began playing together in 1958. Original members were Kenn Roberts,
Buddy Renfro and Mike Ritter. During their 60 years of performing
some changes occurred. After a hiatus, in 1987 preparing for a reunion
concert, The Travelers added a fourth member, Mack Bailey, whose tenor vocals
have become the heart of their sound. They
decided to keep the music going. Subsequently, Mike Ritter retired and
Buddy Renfro lost his fight with Cancer in May, 1998.
Evolving, they added three stunning
instrumentalists, Mike Munford on banjo, Jon Glik on fiddle and Ira Gitlin on
bass, with occasional assists from MacGlashen on mandolin.
With these new
talents, musically they evolved from Pure Folk to Folk-Bluegrass to
Folk-Country, and had a unique quality of their own. Much of their music was
self-composed, primarily by Mack Bailey and Buddy Renfro, but you could always
count on a familiar tune from one of the many performers who have influenced
their work. A mixture of varied voices blending into tight harmonies along with
guitars, banjo, mandolin, acoustic bass and fiddle, The Hard Travelers were a
truly unique act with an avid following of friends and devotees.
From their beginning until 2017, they
were the opening act at The Cellar Door in Washington, DC, toured all over the
USA from The Kerrville Folk Festival to Grossinger's in NY, Azalea Festival in
NC, The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado and a goodwill tour in Taiwan. The
Travelers were dedicated to finding ways to use their music as a vehicle to make
a difference in the world. In 1988 they produced the first "Hard Travelers
and Friends Concert" to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis. An annual
event for 19 years, The Travelers were joined by such renowned artists as Emmylou
Harris, Alabama, Kathy Mattea, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Alan Jackson, the Oak
Ridge Boys, Martina
McBride and Reba McEntire, to name a few. They raised over eleven
(11) million dollars for various charities, with their main focus on finding a
cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
"The Hard Travelers are well known for giving a very lively and engaging
performance, and for leaving their audiences feeling good about life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness! They are a bunch of good ol' boys having a
good ol' time sharing songs about everyday life experiences about everyday
folks. A great band to get you in the mood."
"The Hard Travelers
music features soaring harmonies worked into lively songs and poignant ballads.
The musicians are first rate and combine their talents to make a spirited good
time for their enthusiastic audiences."
Hard Travelers CD's featuring Mack:
All proceeds from these CDs go to the
MUSE Foundation for the charities they support.
Click on image for more info and ordering
(2004 - 2012)
2012: 2004 - 2006:
Corwin and Gaylan Taylor * * * * * Alex Hassilev, Andy
Corwin and Mack
Mack has been hailed as
“the next great singer in folk music” by no less an authority than Glenn
Yarbrough, the original tenor in the fabulous world-renowned folk trio, The Limeliters. Mack’s career came full circle
when in 2004 he was asked to be the newest tenor in The Limeliters, with
whom he performed around the country for eight years (including with Glenn, at
times), delighting audiences everywhere. The group adopted some of
Mack's own original songs. This association brought Mack to the attention of
national folk music fans. Solo and with the Limeliters, he was
featured on several cruises.
Limeliter CD's featuring Mack:
Click on image
for more info and ordering
Live in Paradise
Right From The Start
Tribute to John
(1998 - Present)
20, 1997, just weeks prior to John's death, Mack had the rare privilege of
singing with John Denver in the finale of one of his last concerts. John was
a huge influence on Mack's musical upbringing, as he learned to play the
guitar using John's songs. Further, he credits John with
"teaching me how to sing a song." Now, Mack has been
included in the elite musical cast comprising John's former band mates
and musical partners, in paying tribute to him though concerts around the
country and in Europe.
Left, Mack (L) on
stage with John (R) singing "Thank God, I'm A Country Boy"
"The power and love in John's music is
recreated in wonderfully interpreted versions of his songs, performed by an amazing cast - with
warmth, emotional spirit and soaring sound. Audiences respond with enthusiastic
tears and laughter."
Musicians with whom Mack
has performed include: Chris Nole (John's piano player) , Alan Deremo (John's
bass player), Kenn Roberts (Producer), Bill Danoff (composer of 12 songs
recorded by John),
Jim Salestrom (John's studio musician), John Sommers (John's fiddler
and banjo player), Gary Muldeer (Comedian; John's friend), Steve Weisberg
(John's guitar player) Mack Bailey, Mollie Weaver (John's friend and vocalist),
Jim Horn (John's horn/flute/saxophone player), Denny
Brooks (John's backup musician), Pete Huttlinger (John's lead
guitarist - studio & touring), Herb Pedersen (John's banjo and mandolin player),
(John's drummer), and others.
LEFT: Denny Brooks, Alan
Deremo (rear), Mollie Weaver ,
Jim Salestrom, Richie Gajate-Garcia (drums), Mack,
John Somers (right rear) and Herb Petersen.
RIGHT: Pete Huttlinger, Bil Danoffl, Chris Nole, Jim Horn,
Mollie Weaver, John Sommers, & Mack
John Denver Tribute CD's featuring Mack:
Click on image
for more info and ordering.
Aspen John Denver
Wheeler Opera House
Aspen John Denver
Wheeler Opera House
Duo with Mollie
Live From The Casa
John Denver Tribute
Wish You Were Here
Duo with Mollie
Mack and John
following is a transcript of Mack reminiscing about his experiences with
I literally learned to play the guitar learning John’s
songs. I was never a fan in the sense of learning all about him, or anything
like that, but I just learned all his music. And I really respected him as
somebody that I could learn from. I spent a lot of time trying to have the
opportunity to meet him.
There was one time in New Hampshire I was working at a
resort hotel and he came to do a concert up there, which was kind of
surprising. It was a small place, with the concert on one tennis court and they
had a stage set up. So you can imagine that’s just how many people were there.
And I had gotten really good seats and I had put together a package – a cassette
tape of some of my songs and a letter. It was a great show and he had just
started working with James Burton and those guys and at one point, he started
introducing everybody on stage and he mentions Barney Wyckoff, who’s his stage
manager at the time. So, as soon as the show was over, I ran up to the limo
behind the stage and I opened the door, and I threw my package in and said,
“Barney said ‘make sure John gets this.’” And then I shut the door and I ran.
Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, I get this little
note from “John Denver Music” and it said, “we listened to your tape and didn’t
find anything we could use and don’t ever do that again.” So that was pretty
But then, on September 20, 1997, that changed. A group I
work with, The Hard Travelers, does benefit concerts for Cystic Fibrosis every
year, and we are the opening act to big-named country stars. For the 10th
anniversary, we were able to get John. We had talked to John and we’d tried
many times to put the show together but it just never worked with his schedule,
but this was going to work. So, at the 7th inning stretch of every
Baltimore Orioles baseball game, they play “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
So that day began with us going to the Baltimore Orioles
game and we were in the Governor’s box and this was going to be the first time
that I met John. So, I walked in and saw him standing over there and I was
really nervous. BUT, I knew one thing for certain and it was kind of
comforting. I knew, without a doubt, that I was going to say something very
stupid. I just wasn’t sure what it was going to be. So, with that confidence,
I decided what I would do is turn the tables to my advantage. I waited until he
took a bite of something and then walked up and said, “John, my name is Mack
Bailey, and I just wanted to thank you for teaching me how to sing a song. And
I’ll be in the band tonight.” And I turned around to walk away.
He said, “Wait a minute. Mack Bailey. Didn’t you record
“Potter’s Wheel” before I did?” And swelling with pride, I said, “Why, yes. I
did.” And, so we talked for a little bit and it was really very cool. And
then he went down for the 7th inning stretch and mouthed the words to
“Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
Then, we went on up to sound check. We had asked him if
he would sing, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” because we have a great fiddler in
our band, and he agreed. So, we get to sound-check and he said, “I’m going to
save my voice for later on.” He looked at one of the guys in our band and said,
“Kenn, you sing the verses during sound-check and I’ll do them during the
show.” Kenn said, “I don’t know them, but Mack does.” So, he said, “OK,
Mack. You do them for sound-check and I’ll do them in the show.”
I was thinking, “you know what? I could care less if this
show’s tonight or not. This is what it’s all about. This is like my full
circle - right here.” So, I sang my butt off during sound-check and when it was
over, he came over and said to me, “You know, why don’t you and I just trade
verses on this thing.” So, during the show, we actually traded verses and it
was quite a thrill.
And then, of course, two weeks later, we get hit with the
tragic news. So, now we get some of his former band members together and we do
a tribute show in Aspen every year. It’s a wonderful emotional tribute. It’s
not sappy or schmaltzy at all; it’s just a nice tribute by his friends and
people who had a chance to make some music with him. And it’s so touching that
people come from all over the world and there were a lot of tributes. It’s a
great weekend tribute to a wonderful man.