Jeff McCreary is a singer-songwriter from the Delta town of Cleveland, Mississippi. Born and raised in between Cleveland and the nearby town of Merigold, McCreary stuck around even after a stint in Europe because of family and the irresistible draw of the Delta. McCreary’s music is the wry, hard-earned expression of life and time in the mystic region famously described as “the most Southern place on earth.”
After discovering Bob Dylan at age 16, McCreary picked up the guitar and a pen. Inspired by Dylan’s music, as well as Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt, he began to write his own songs based on a style that could be folk, rock, red dirt country, anthemic, Shakespearean, sardonic, heartwarming, dark, humorous, or any/all of the above. Simply put, McCreary explores all facets of the broad genre of Americana in his writing and playing. He writes with a specificity that makes his music all the more relatable, offering an honest look at life and his surroundings. Songwriting is his passion to him, it feels like it’s what he’s on earth to do. “They show up sometimes out of the blue,” he says of his songs. “It’s like a gift.”
For several years, McCreary has been “cutting his teeth” playing local happy hours, honing his cover material, and writing his own songs. Recently, he has been gaining regional notoriety. He often shares the stage with local rocker Craig Adams, has opened for the nationally touring band Futurebirds, and has even played a handful of gigs at legendary club Proud Larry’s, an Oxford, MS, venue where regional and national bands perform, and GRAMMY® winners often grace the stage.
In 2018, McCreary entered the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi’s Front Porch Showcase and received the Matthew Rubio Award for originality for his song, “Delta Town.” The song is a story of a veteran returning home that weaves a simple melody with lyrics that call to mind the mighty Mississippi. It compares the veteran’s overwhelming experience with adjusting back to normal life to trying to swim upstream. “I wish that I could build a dam and stop this crazy thing I am / but everything just carries me away,” the veteran admits. McCreary delivered the stark but poetic song with his live show companions___his guitar, a harmonica, and simple honesty.
“If you like roots or country or folk music, I’m your guy. Or if you just like drinking beer with some background noise, I’m also your guy,” McCreary says just before a gig. While McCreary’s seemingly straightforward style may be conducive to head-nodding, beer-drinking, and even toe-tapping, it shouldn’t be reduced to just background “noise.” He produces art in the form of music that sounds good and seems simple on the surface, but reveals more and more upon the second or third or tenth listen. McCreary’s music is for the listener who wants to hear a straight-up country song or hum along with a pleasant folk tune, and it’s for the guy in the corner lost in thought, nursing a beer and his wounds. Like the unseen, swift current of the nearby Mississippi River, Jeff McCreary’s music proves that first appearances can be deceiving.