Local Vocals: Uncle Herbie and Joey Mac

‘Uncle Herbie and Joey Mac’ have a sound that they describe as ‘roots based, with a splash of ‘60s psychedelic jam music’ and have developed quite a loyal fan base across our area.

The first time that Herbie (Burns) and Joe (McAllister) played together was about three years ago, when Herbie was playing a gig with Josh McBride and Tommy Jones. Joe showed up and joined in on lead guitar. “I was blown away by Joe’s playing, even on an acoustic guitar and knew I had to play with him again!” recalled Herbie. As fate would have it, Herbie got that chance when he called Joe to fill in at a gig at The River House in Ashe County. It was late notice, but Joe was available and willing to do the gig. As Herbie said, “On the ride to the gig the first thing we said was, ‘Hey, what songs do you know rock solid? What can you sing and play perfectly?’ We wrote the set list on the way up to the gig. Joe and I talked a lot, played some music and basically found a super common ground, personally and musically, in about an hour.” But you might be thinking, ‘So what’s with the name?’ The name for the band came by Herbie being an actual uncle, as well as having friends who called him ‘Uncle Herbie.’ Herbie’s friend Tommy Jones called Joe ‘Joey’ then ‘Mac’ was added by Herbie since ‘Mc’ is the beginning of Joey’s last name.

Herbie Burns

Born in Lexington, KY, Herbie’s parents moved to North Carolina in the mid ‘70s. Herbie remembers being 5 years old and listening to Sergeant Pepper’s and ‘The Revolver’ by the Beatles. “My father was always playing classical music and my ear was locked in to some amazing music at a very young age. I started piano lesson at the age of 8 and then learned the bass at 12,” recalled Herbie. After playing in his school’s orchestra as a teen, because of his height, Herbie was ‘forced’ into playing basketball, which he continued to play in college. Even while on the court, Herbie’s first love was music and he continued to play in bands over the years. “I have been fortunate enough to have played with a lot of super talented and very popular musicians. I see myself ‘picking and grinning’ as an old man,” Herbie said.

Joe McAllister

Joe’s family was originally from St. Augustine, FL, but Joe grew up in Yadkinville. Growing up with a dad playing in a live bluegrass show on the local AM radio station, Joe’s love of music, like Herbie’s, started at a young age. “I would jam with my dad, relatives and friends on the guitar. I learned to take what I learned on guitar and translate sounds to other instruments. I later learned how to play the mandolin, bass, drums, banjo, keyboards and Dobro. I’ve also experimented with recording in my own home studio,” commented Joe.

With similar influences like the Beatles, Kiss, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers just to mention a few, Uncle Herbie and Joey Mac had a lot to build their sound on, as well as their friendship.

The duo is in the process of writing and recording in the late summer and early fall 2015. “We want to write and record organically and also play most, if not all, of the instruments on the album. Joe and I are both disillusioned with the current state of music. We are sort of purists and traditionalists when it comes to what we like musically. We want to bring back that ‘old’ sound, but also have our own identity at the same time,” Herbie stated.

For more information on ‘Uncle Herbie and Joey Mac,’ ‘like’ them on Facebook.