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McLaughlin coaxes new sounds from acoustic guitar

"Many people fail because they quit too soon.” reads the fortune cookie saying that McLaughlin taped to his dashboard in 2001 – it remains there to this day. Photo by Ryan Taylor

ZUMBROTA — Billy McLaughlin has been known to astound audiences with the breadth of sound he draws from an acoustic guitar. He will perform at Crossings at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14. He'll be performing with a mystery guest.

McLaughlin is recognized internationally as a world-class guitarist, Emmy Award-winning composer and inspirational keynote speaker who has appeared on Billboard's Top-Ten Chart. Previously signed to Virgin Records' Narada label, McLaughlin has 14 CD releases, three National Campus Entertainer of the Year Awards, five Minnesota Music Awards and his decades of national concert touring earned him the Hall of Fame Achievement Award.

But in 1999, McLaughlin vanished from sight as his career crumbled due to a little-known neuromuscular disorder called focal dystonia. After suffering several years without a cure or even a diagnosis, this right-handed guitarist embarked on an unlikely attempt to regain his career by relearning his instrument — left-handed.

His remarkable comeback is captured in the independent documentary film "Changing Keys" (seen on PBS stations in 2010) and a concert film called "Coming Back Alive" featuring McLaughlin with string orchestra and a reunion of his longtime rock band. KPBS, in San Diego, produced the 2013 Emmy Award-winning live concert program called "Starry Night" — Billy McLaughlin with Orchestra Nova highlighting McLaughlin's extraordinary talent as both guitarist and inspirational speaker.

Now serving as Ambassador for Awareness for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, McLaughlin is the winner of the 2010 Public Leadership in Neurology Award.

McLaughlin has resumed an international schedule of concert appearances and keynote speaking. He resides in his home state of Minnesota where he is proudly raising two boys.

Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 day of show. To reserve tickets, visit, call 507-732-7616 or stop in to Crossings at 320 East Ave., Zumbrota.