Forging Your Own Planet | Dan McGuinness| e.29


I’ve known Dan McGuinness for quite some time now. Hell, I’ve known him as long as my wife and I have been together. I met him while we were on our first date. With us both being musicians (and Bears fans) we had a lot to break the ice with. Regardless, it’s possible to have a lot in common with someone and have a hard time getting to know them. I do it all the time.

With Dan, however, that was far from the case. By nature, he’s an unapologetically, outgoing guy. He’ll talk with anyone and isn’t afraid to share his thoughts or opinions.

If I had a classic Dan McGuinness story to share, I would need to take you back to October, 2017, Deadwood, SD. All of us songwriter types had converged on this tiny Black Hills town for the annual Wild West Songwriters Festival. Among the many rounds that go on throughout the day, the evenings boast of a main stage performance by a big act on Friday. This year, the headliner was Jewel.

You remember Jewel right? I have my sister to thank for still being able to sing “You Were Meant For Me” and “ Who Will Save Your Soul” to this day. And, hey, rightly so. Big career and lots of talent go with her.

Well, this night, as Jewel took the stage, things didn’t go so well. She walked out and started singing an acapella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, then she talked to the audience….and continued to talk…well over 30 minutes. I’m all about connecting with the crowd, but when you are performing a 1.5 hour show and you spend a third of it not performing, people get upset.

To top it off, twice she had to have someone come up and show them her own lyrics on their phone so she could sing her songs.

At the time, I thought nothing of it. I had to get set up downstairs for our local jam after Jewel was done. So I left after her first 30 minute monologue and figured that was that.

Later that night, during our local after party jam, Dan took the stage to play a few tunes. He grabbed his guitar and went to the mic and shouted out to the crowd, “Hey, who wants to hear me perform Jewel?” Naturally, the the crowd screams in the affirmative.

Dan then goes to the back of the stage, sets his guitar down, and walks up to the microphone and just starts talking. No singing, no playing, just talking.

The whole place started laughing…except for Jewels manager who happened to be at the bar.

None of that stopped Dan and I would venture a good guess that given the chance he would do it again.


Dan is one of the most honest and driven individuals I’ve ever met, and he’ll call out bullshit on a dime.

Having him at The Heath Bar was something I wanted to do for a long time. His story is an incredible one that literally has only happened to a handful of people IN THE WORLD. Walking around the streets of Chi-Town with holes in his shoes one day, and performing in Houston, TX the next with Creedence Clearwater Revisited simply because 4 years prior he sent an email to them letting them know if they ever need a singer to give him a call is something that, quite frankly, just doesn’t happen.

I’m a hopeful guy and always teach my daughters to reach fo the stars and put themselves out there because you never know what might happen. In practice though, life has been incredibly ‘effing efficient at letting me know my place. Dan has put to practice the things I teach my children and stands as an example.

He wanted to be a radio personality - He did it.

He wanted to sing for CCRevisited - He did it.

He wanted to be a sports announcer - He did it.

He wanted to be an actor - He did it.

Without question he’s an inspiration to be around, but in my case, I was in a unique position to get to know him before learning all of this about him. That’s what makes a friendship with him feel genuine. I want nothing from him and he knows I was his friend before I saw photos of him performing in front of 40,000 people.

I just like hanging out with the guy and will do so any chance I can.

We chat about a lot of things in our episode, and through it all you get to know Dan a bit better. He started out in music as a roadie for a friends band getting paid $30 a weekend at 17. Quickly, he realized that being a musician had to be more fun, and he went to to work. Starting out solo, anyone will tell you, makes it easier to book gigs because you only have one schedule to worry about. He quickly learned the ropes of the music business and carved out his path in it, saying,

“In this business, always act like you've been there before, and certainly act like you belong there.”

That’s easy to say and hard to execute. Dan though, has worked on mastering this for years now. Nerve racking moments have certainly come his way and while most people would tighten up, Dan has found a way to embrace the moment he’s in and enjoy it. None of his accomplishments were handed to him. He worked for all of them.

If you ask me who is it who belongs somewhere, it would definitely be the one who worked for it.


I hope you enjoyed this episode. Leave a comment to tell me what you think! Be on the lookout for a part 2 coming up on Dan’s podcast, Danimals Planet.

More info on Dan can be found at