Born and raised in Reno, Nev., Spike McGuire has traveled the country as a folk-punk troubadour yet would never consider living anywhere else.
“I love the landscape,” he says, “how beautiful everything is. The more I tour, the more I realize it’s a special place.”
Sept. 5 | 9 p.m. | Pignic Pub & Patio | Reno, Nev.
Sept. 7 | 8 p.m. | Alibi Ale Works | Incline Village, Nev.
Every first Thursday of the month, McGuire puts on an intimate evening of music at Pignic Pub & Patio in Reno called “Loud as Folk” where he invites nationally touring artists to perform alongside local singers and songwriters. The popular event has hosted talented musicians from as far away as Australia, France, Israel and Canada.
“[Reno is] the last true bastion of the Wild West: rough, but loveable. For the most part, the city is supportive of its artists. In the summer, you can hear music coming from everywhere.”
— Spike McGuire
“There are so many great songwriters around here, so I wanted to showcase that,” he says. “We band three or four solo acts together for a show. The cornerstone of folk music is community.”
McGuire started Americana group Six Mile Station in 2013 with Jon Underwood, Jeff Knight, Chris Fox and Greg Gilmore of Silver, but lately he’s been focusing more on his solo material. While his first performance was at the Chicago Peace and Freedom Festival in 2008, he recently released his debut solo LP on the Fourth of July. It’s called (ironically or not) “Salute to America.”
“I’ve always been a big fan of political stuff,” says the freethinking artist. “On the spectrum of folk music, I’m closer to Pete Seeger than Peter, Paul & Mary. Punk rock is a very political genre, too, and I’ve always been into that.”
One song on the album is called “Doomed to Consume.”
“It’s about somebody trying to sell you something at every turn,” says McGuire. “The glorification of commodification and the ancient art of selling people crap.”
Another is entitled “John Law,” which addresses the ongoing crisis of police brutality.
“I didn’t want to come across as anti-police because I’m not — but it seems to getting worse and worse,” he says. “I’m not attacking one side or the other. It’s an unbiased third-party approach.”
McGuire often performs in an American flag T-shirt and bandana during his introspective, yet, intense performances.
“I might be an anarchist, but I’m a patriot, too,” he says. “Ideally, America as the most ideal version of itself is far from being so today. We are multicultural melting pot with ideas and different types of arts representing everything. I do believe it’s possible for us to get there.
“Also, Reno is in America and Reno is my favorite city of all space and time,” he says. “It’s got a very eclectic music scene no matter what genre you’re into. We’re the last true bastion of the Wild West: rough, but loveable. For the most part, the city is supportive of its artists. In the summer, you can hear music coming from everywhere.”
McGuire grew up in the entertainment scene that the Biggest Little City in the World is known for. When he was a child, his father was a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and his mother was the entertainment director for Circus Circus.
“Any weird job in entertainment, I’ve done it,” says McGuire.
His first professional gig came before he can even remember. At the tender age of 2, his father brought him onstage at the Theatre at Grand Sierra to juggle torches and machetes over him. When he was age 4, he perfected an act where he’d balance eggs on a pole until he’d trip and fall onto the audience. Of course, in his forever confrontational, yet, tender way, they were plastic eggs.
“My passion is my inspiration,” says the outspoken and kindhearted artist. “It’s where my heart is. I’ve loved music my whole life and what’s drawn me in the most is the songwriting and the community of people around that. It’s all about having your finger on the pulse. And you don’t have to bring any crap with you.”