Mo Mack, I confess, is a nickname. Legally I’m known as Morris McClellan. I mention it to introduce two older brothers, who dragged me into music. Mike, some five years my senior, was doing a credible imitation of Leadbelly when he was 15. He left the family three years later to embark on the life of a folk singer, after having indoctrinated the middle brother Bill in the joys of Bluegrass and old-timey music. Later, Bill made me learn to play the guitar, so he’d have someone to keep the rhythm while he played banjo, mandolin or fiddle. The three of us still play together when we can, and you never know what’s coming next: Cajun, Hawaiian, Gospel, Bluegrass, Blues, Dixieland, R&R, a Corrido of Mike’s or some strange hybrid Bill has thought up.
Once hooked, I delved into all forms of the blues and country, discovered Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman, and fell hard for Honky Tonk music, Chicago Blues and early Rock & Roll. Anything close to the roots grabbed my attention. I was also listening to pop radio and was a dedicated Lovin’ Spoonful fan. As for schooling, it took me ten years and six different colleges, but in 1976 I finally escaped from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in the History of Country & Westem Music and went to LA to start a band and be a songwriter.
By 1982, I had built a recording studio in my basement, and a friend of mine and I recorded an album called “A Collection of Favorite Christmas Carols.” We called Lewis Ross, who played all the parts, the “new American Guitar Ensemble.” It was the start of a business that came to be called the Revere-Lifedance Company. This delightful Christmas album sold well enough for me to start a record label and a distribution company. We introduced the idea of playing music in a non-record retail store which the store would carry for sale. It came to be called “In-Store Play & Sell” marketing. It was a good run through the late 80’s and early 90’s, but then the internet began to happen, and the music business changed. Besides, I was selling primarily instrumental music, and where had my song-writing dreams gone? When the opportunity was offered by my partners to buy me out, it made sense.
I released my first album, “New & Used Tunes,” in 2000. For the next 10 years I worked with a couple of folk trios that performed around Portland. The second trio with John and Cynthia Boelling formed the basis for my second album, entitled “Dancing in the Light,” released in 2014. I continue to perform when and where I can, though the Covid pandemic interrupted that for all of us.