Scott McQuaig is a musician, singer, and songwriter from Meridian, Mississippi. He and his band, The Tomcats, have been performing together for more than a decade, although he and some bandmates have had more than 25 years experience together. Scott was signed as a country artist to MCA Records and later Capitol Records Nashville, but after a number of years on the road he returned home to raise his family and has continued performing regionally and writing songs. Although he fits more into traditional country and Americana genres if you had to place him somewhere, his sets include many different genres of music. Scott's lengthy catalog of original music is prevalent in his performances, but his covers of traditional country music (Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, George Strait) as well as Americana, Blues, and Rock (Sonny Landreth, Paul Thorn, Muddy Waters, Kings of Leon) deliver to audiences a diverse and enjoyable show. Still, it is Scott's voice, guitar, and songwriting that has earned him a faithful and supportive fanbase.
A native of Meridian, Mississippi, Scott McQuaig began playing guitar when he was twelve and took lessons from Carl Fitzgerald, a Meridian legend known for his musicianship and DJ personality on WMOX radio. Scott met Britt Gully in college and joined his band, The Daybreakers, who played regularly throughout east Mississippi and west Alabama with sets filled with the music of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams.
Scott left college and returned to Meridian to pursue music. To support himself and his family he worked as a machinist by day. At night he wrote songs, and on weekends he continued to play with The Daybreakers. Local promoter Ken Rainey brought him to the attention of Tex Whitson, an associate of Merle Haggard for many years.
Winning the Jimmie Rodgers talent show in 1987 led to a demo deal with Jimmy Bowen, President of MCA/Universal records. With the help of Paul Overstreet producing Scott’s demo sessions and Paul Davis singing harmony, a recording contract with MCA records was attained. In November 1988, he went into the studio to record his first album.
Scott wrote five of the songs on the self-titled album which proved his ability as a strong songwriter. Scott was also fortunate to co-write songs with renowned songwriters like Max D. Barnes, Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, Mark Collie, and Mike Reid. His studio band consisted of legendary musicians Reggie Young on guitar, Mark O’Connor on fiddle, Leland Sklar on bass, Eddie Bayers on drums, Matt Rollings on piano, Billie Joe Walker, Jr. on acoustic guitar, and Sonny Garrish on steel guitar.
To support his newly-released self-titled album, Scott visited radio stations all over the U.S. while touring with his band, The Dreamers. He made personal appearances on Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now, On Stage, The Shotgun Red Variety Show, Video Country hosted by Shelly Mangrum, and the Country Music Association’s Annual Buyer’s Entertainment Marketplace, appearing with such talented entertainers as Garth Brooks and Lionel Cartwright. He performed shows on the road with George Jones, Shenandoah, Alabama, Vern Gosdin, Jerry Reed, Marty Stuart, Lori Morgan, Diamond Rio, Charlie Louvin, Freddie Hart, The Judds, and many others. One of the highlights of Scott’s career was meeting and becoming good friends with the legendary Bonnie Owens, who performed live with Scott singing harmony on “Honky Tonk Amnesia.”
Scott achieved moderate success with his first single, “Honky Tonk Amnesia,” which reached #46 on the charts. Jimmy Bowen’s move to Capitol Records took Scott and his album there, and his second single, Johnny and the Dreamers was released. He went on to also release “Old Memory.”
After years on the road, Scott began to feel the absence from his family was taking its toll, and he returned home. He spent the next several years raising his daughter, Jessi, and son, Hunter.
Scott continued to write and perform for years before finally being encouraged to record a second album. Meridian native Chris Ethridge, known for his work with The Flying Burrito Brothers, Willie Nelson, Ry Cooder and countless others, also performed regularly in the same venues as Scott. With Chris’ encouragement, Scott teamed up with his band, The Tomcats, and Point Recording owner Clay Barnes, former guitarist for Steve Forbert, to record a new album I’m Still Falling. The 2012 release is a mixture of all his influences over the years, which is evident in the range of styles. Although the songs join together for an impressive compilation, one hears arrangements that include overtones of blues, country, and rock.
A Song Away from You, Scott's third album, includes seven original songs and three covers. Released in 2018, the album has a traditional country feel with an influence of the West Coast sound made popular by artists such as Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart, and Merle Haggard.
“This album is highly autobiographical because all the songs come from deeply emotional places that I’ve experience throughout my life,” McQuaig explains, “and it’s still a work in progress.” Included on the album are Scott’s personal tribute to Hank Williams, titled “Hiram,” and a cover of “Too Weak Notice,” written by Steve Smithson. Smithson, who died in 2017 following a lengthy illness, was a longtime friend and member of McQuaig’s band, The Tomcats, as well as a member of the well-known Meridian band The Who Daddys.
The first single, "Honky Tonk O'Clock," kicks off the album with an upbeat tempo and style that's undeniably traditional country. From there, the album weaves through mid-tempo songs about love and happiness, ballads of heartbreaks, and ends on a contemplation about life's journey and what's to come.
Scott's fourth album, As Live as it Gets, is a compilation of live performances.The album was released in late 2020 during the height of the Covid pandemic and during a time when live music performances had been halted. As Live as it Gets features 13 tracks of live performances by Scott McQuaig & The Tomcats and includes songs written by Scott as well as songs by his musical influences such as Merle Haggard, John Hiatt, Guy Clark, and Gram Parsons.