A few weeks ago, I just happened to walk into Joe’s Famous Bar & Grill in Burbank. I settled into a seat at the bar and heard the person on stage announce “Here’s a man who needs no introduction!” I turned toward the darkened stage and my face lit up as the familiar silhouette of a tall, lanky man walked up to the microphone. I shouted “RONNIE MACK!”, then giggled and laughed as the stage lights came on.
Ronnie Mack’s internationally famous country-roots showcase RONNIE MACK’S BARNDANCE was a Los Angeles institution for 25 years.
In 1990, this event was held weekly at the world famous Palomino Club in North Hollywood. There was no cover charge and around twelve well-known bands in the lineup. It was broadcast every Thursday night on KXLU radio station. Over the years, attendees have included Buck Owens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Rosie Flores, Lucinda Williams, James Intveld, Brian Setzer and Connie Francis.
Ronnie Mack became interested in music as a young boy when, at the age of four, his grandfather gave him some toy instruments to play with.
He became fascinated by these and taught himself to play a few chords on guitar as well as picking up the drums, accordion and saxophone. when he was six years old, he began learning songs by Ricky Nelson.
His move from Baltimore, Maryland to Los Angeles in 1976 led to him befriending Ray Campi; Rockabilly Hall Of Famer, and Ronny Weiser; record producer and founder of rockabilly record label Rollin’ Rock.
In 1979 he formed the Punk Rock Band Ronnie Mack & Black Slacks and by the 1980’s he was a noted regular on the Los Angeles Rockabilly scene.
Mack shared one of his fondest memories that took place at the Sacramento Civic Center in 1985. Fats Domino and his band were on tour with Ricky Nelson and Mack was asked to play guitar for the sound check because Nelson could not be there. “I got to play the songs with The Jordanaires!” Mack gleefully told me. The concert lineup included The Jordanaires, Ricky Nelson, Ronnie Mack, The Coasters and Fats Domino.
Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance began in 1988 usually paying tribute to a particular artist such as Buddy Holly, Hank Williams Sr., Patsy Cline and the like.
Keeping the tradition of the Barn Dance, Ronnie now hosts regular tribute events to salute America’s music legends that have included Connie Francis, Ricky Nelson, and Glen Campbell at local venues such as VivaCantina And Mexican Restaurant, and Pickwick Gardens.
Stay tuned for information on the upcoming events and the Ronnie Mack Podcast series!
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