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JUSTIN McKEE

ABOUT

ABOUT

b. 1985, to an Italian-American family in San Mateo, California, and based in various locations. 

 

I'm a correspondent, song-and-dance man, flâneur, and general ne'er do well.

In addition to my less (physically) onerous work as a wayfaring artist, I've been a dishwasher, ditchdigger, doorman, dogwalker, valet, bartender, groundskeeper, signpainter, streetvendor, short-order cook, farmhand, and bellhop, to name but a dozen. I did this work because I needed to eat, but also because I wanted to understand intimately and limn singularly the picaresque variety of life. It is this motif, as well as an interest in exploring societal dissonances and disparities while advocating for the more vulnerable among us, which serves as the basis and bedrock of my artistry.

WORDS

WORDS

For as long as I can remember, I've been enchanted by the majesty of the written word, and the prospect of honing my craft to tell stories, explore ideas, and champion a more artful way of living.

The following are some elements of my writing portfolio:

The Raffish, for which I served as Co-Founder/Publisher & Editor-In-Chief/Writer/Errand Boy, is a literary journal featuring the work of prisoners, combat veterans, laborers, and others. It was published in print and online from 2017-2020, distributed internationally, and garnered praise from parties as disparate as a world-famous writer and my grandmother.

Divagations is a Substack of brown study and blue notes. Subscribe for weeklyish musings.

My literary influences (which [naturally] intermingle with musical influences) include (but of course are not limited to) Henry David Thoreau, Bill Watterson, Flannery O' Connor, John Steinbeck, John Prine, Anaïs Nin, Robert Frost, Memphis Minnie, Jorge Luis Borges, James Baldwin, James Joyce, Dorothy Parker, and Mark Twain.

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements re: publications and more.

MUSIC

MUSIC

 

My musical ethos is rooted in what I heard growing up while listening to my local jazz radio station, KCSM: the sound and spirit of music being made in a particular moment, embracing environment and imperfections, the musicians not yet minions of their machines, playing not to package a product but for the muse...

I grew up making music with my first/best friend, neighbor, and guitar hero David Giannini, busking our neighborhood and recording demos on an old Tascam 4-track. These performances were all highly regarded; alas, none of the tapes have survived.

As a teenager, my friends and I formed boy bands and sang doowop, crooning to our crushes and serenading our sweethearts.

At 18, I defected from formal education in favor of trying my hand as a singer/songwriter in San Francisco, playing cafes, bars, art galleries and cocktail parties, and soon after recorded and released a debut album entitled Entelechy. The studio experience and subsequent struggle to thrive as an independent artist prompted me to reconsider my trajectory and return to a more intimate and lo-fi approach to making, recording, and sharing music. Inspired by local bluesmen and an indefatigable tap-dancing virtuoso at the Powell Street cable car turnaround, I returned to busking and performing guerrilla gigs, and recording live and in my makeshift bedroom studio. I also wrote and recorded for various Bay Area artists, and was half of the short-lived but seminal Punk Crunk duo ZOO.

Years of Robert Johnson-esque troubadouring followed, with stints in New Orleans, Buenos Aires, Rome, and New York City, during which I employed primitive tools to record impromptu performances. Some of these recordings are available somewhere and possibly worth listening to but most are not.

My musical inspirations range from Lead Belly and Mary Lou Williams to Amy Winehouse and Outkast. Some of the musical idioms dearest to my heart are 1930s-1950s KC/NYC jazz, Mississippi Delta/Hill Country blues, New Orleans second line/brass band music, and Argentine tango.

 

I continue to write and record music, at home and whilst traveling, as intimately and authentically as possible. My recorded music is available for purchase here and in select record stores, and can be streamed on Youtube, Spotify, Pandora, and most other platforms. My personal Youtube channel here has additional content (ew).

Live performances may or may not be announced here. For private bookings, please drop a line in the CONTACT section.

IMAGES

IMAGES

My images (photography + fine and trash art) nod to Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sergio Larrain, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Tannen, and SAMO. Prints and individual pieces are available for purchase, and more information can be had by getting in touch via the CONTACT section.

  • Apple Music
  • YouTube
  • Spotify
  • Instagram

CONTACT








 

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Acquisitions, Bookings, Collaborations, Commissions, Fan Mail, Grievances, Press, and Other Inquiries:

justmckee143@aol.com

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