The 2009 debut studio release from Dave McGraw and Crow Wing, Coyotes Came Around, is undoubtedly the most captivating statement of McGraw’s career to date. Backed by Crow Wing and an impressive gathering of guest musicians (including award-winning vocalist Anne Sibley and Flagstaff’s Nolan McKelvey), McGraw’s tales of the well-lived life take on a shimmering vitality. Even in its more raucous moments, however, Coyotes Came Around retains the wide-open sincerity for which McGraw’s songwriting has become known. As observed by the San Francisco music blog blackmagicplastic, "Dave's music is heartfelt, spiritually rich and endlessly wise...music of the sort that can enrapture anyone who takes the time to really listen." The new album maintains McGraw’s precedent for insightful lyricism and compelling melody, while Crow Wing’s eclectic foundation evokes influences ranging from Bill Monroe to The Clash.
The release of Coyotes Came Around extends an already impressive trajectory for the band. Whether performing solo or with members of Crow Wing, the last two years have seen McGraw sharing the stage with a variety of acclaimed musicians, including 2008 Oscar winners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of The Swell Season (and stars of the movie “Once”), Jeffrey Foucault, Peter Mulvey, Gregory Alan Isakov, Tony Furtado, David Lindley, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and bluegrass legend Del McCoury.
Prior to the formation of Crow Wing, McGraw spent years as a drummer and percussionist with bands performing alternative country, folk, blues, jazz-influenced rock, and world music. He brought all of these influences together as a singer/songwriter in the summer of 2005, with a move to the high desert of northern Arizona. In a five-month maelstrom of creative energy, he and bassist Thom Lord built a studio in the corner of a tiny rural cabin and recorded his first solo album, Northwest/Southwest. This same cabin later served as the de facto origin of Crow Wing, when Flagstaff guitarist Ryan Heinsius met McGraw and Lord at an impromptu desert party. The party turned into a late-night jam session, and the three shortly began playing live acoustic shows together whenever possible. The fit was natural, with McGraw’s rich voice and percussive rhythm guitar complemented perfectly by Heinsius’ vocal harmonies and searing, elegant leads.
McGraw quickly settled into his new musical role as a frontman, playing a multitude of live shows to increasingly enthusiastic crowds and releasing a second full-length album, Where the Sea Settles Down, in 2007. Two well-received national tours followed in that year. Andrew Lauher, an already well-known Flagstaff drummer, entered the picture in 2008 after volunteering to sit in on a live show with McGraw, Lord, and Heinsius. The uncommon musical chemistry between the four at that show was intoxicating, and they wasted no time in booking the next. The official formation of Crow Wing wasn’t far behind.
Now based in Flagstaff, Dave McGraw and Crow Wing are rapidly becoming well-known throughout the southwestern U.S. for their impassioned live shows. The official release of Coyotes Came Around on July 3rd was marked by a standing-room-only hometown performance at Flagstaff’s Green Room, and the band is currently touring throughout the American West.