John Henry McDonald


From the streets of San Francisco to the jungles of Vietnam, from drug addiction and alcoholism and homelessness, to finding his strength and becoming a reigning figure in financial services in Austin Texas for more than 40 years, John Henry McDonald has lived many lives in one. And throughout the years he always kept a common thread: a love of folk, gospel, and blues music and a talent for telling a good story.

A true survivor of many of life’s challenges, John Henry McDonald endeavors to tell his story of survival and hard-earned success by telling audiences about himself and about the man who saved his life. Entitled “A Guru Named Frank,” this one-man show features 16 original songs wrapped around 11 vignettes and a ready encore. The stories and the songs describe his brokenness after the war, and the rite of passage McDonald undertook after meeting his guru, the man that would serve as John Henry’s guide to leading a productive and extremely successful life. “A Guru Named Frank“ is uniquely entertaining, humorous yet poignant, realistic yet creative.

This journey of now more than 50 years crystalized with his retirement from corporate America. His friendship and work with producer, guitarist and recording engineer Matt Smith at 6 String Ranch in Austin Texas has resulted in growth as a musician and songwriter as well as in the release of three recordings.

Booking Information

Because John Henry believes in returning that which he has so abundantly received, he takes no payment for performing. Instead, he performs in an effort to raise money and awareness for two specific types of nonprofits: addiction recovery organizations and music education programs.

To book John Henry McDonald send him an email describing the organization you wish his performance to benefit. Include tentative dates if possible.

John Henry offers his music with the sincere hope that these organizations can maximize their funding, and that together, they can touch the lives of everyone who needs “A Guru Named Frank.”

Performance and Sound Information

The show can be performed in a single act of one hour, or in two 30-minute sets with an intermission.

If you have not booked John Henry before, please email him to discuss the size of the room and necessary sound requirements. John Henry McDonald plays an acoustic guitar with a pick up and standard ¼” jack, and plugs his guitar into a DI box. If preferable, John Henry can also play through his amplifier, which a venue sound engineer can mic. He also sings and plays harmonica. He will need a vocal mic similar to a Shure SM 58 or better with a mic stand and boom. He will sing and play harmonica through the same microphone.


“A Contemporary Will Rogers: Raconteur, comedian, old-timey blues-folk singer/songwriter with a plain-speaking honesty and self-effacing humor. He weaves song and repartee together, telling a tale of the ravages of post-traumatic addiction and homelessness, rescued by a new-found sense of purpose and personal responsibility. Effortlessly entertaining; the songs tie into the narrative of love, loss, loneliness with poignancy, spirit and toe-tapping ease. What a performance!”
–William Kanengiser, LA Guitar Quartet