Member Spotlight: Jeff McDaniel

When Jeff moved to Sacramento with his young family in 2014, he had no friends or connections. He did, however, have a burning desire to create. He says, “I needed in the very essence of my human being to play music!” When a friend of his wife who was living in Sac invited him to jam with his nascent band, Jeff jumped at the chance. In doing so, he stumbled upon the very beginnings of the instrument-lending organization that would become the Library of MusicLandria!

He showed up to Rachel’s (co-founder of MusicLandria) small apartment on 11th Street, the first home of MusicLandria, with his acoustic guitar and tiny daughter Clem in tow. Bandleader Eric (Dr. B) also played guitar and Rachel played clarinet, with Tony on drums. Jeff quickly realized, “Oh! There needs to be a bass,” but he didn’t own one. Jeff and Eric were among MusicLandria’s first customers, checking out the fretless bass and bass amp each time the band had a practice. Before long, their band was playing house shows; but more importantly, Jeff had made lasting friendships that tied him into the Sacramento community.

Jeff’s passion for music and community-building landed him a position on MusicLandria’s board of directors. He brings to the board a lifelong journey towards musical expression, weathered by hardship and experience.

As a kid, Jeff recalls, there was always music on. Mostly classic rock or blues – Aerosmith, B.B. King, Jim Croce, The Eagles – on radio or vinyl. He always had a love for music. “Didn’t really matter what genre it was, it was always there.” A life-changing moment came in 7th grade. “I was walking home from school through this open field, and stumbled across this cassette tape. It said: ‘Metallica – Ride The Lightning.’ I went home and put it in my parent’s stereo… it changed my whole life. My parents hated it, and so I loved it.”

Around the same time, his uncle gave him a guitar. Jeff started teaching himself, watching other people, and learning. In high school, Jeff learned sound and light tech for the drama department’s productions. By the end of high school, writing songs was a major part of his life. He “got the boot” from his parents’ house after high school and had to make a living singing and writing songs.

Homeless, living out of his car, Jeff eked out a living playing shows in the Merced music scene and touring all over the state as his musical alter ego, ekogko. With his AV and musical skills he eventually secured a job at a local bar and venue, “The Partisan.” He also landed a life-changing position as a Music Therapist for adults with developmental disabilities. At the time, Jeff says, he thought he’d reached a plateau. “Music was my life and I had achieved all of the success I thought was possible.”

After he married, moved to Sacramento, and went back to school, MusicLandria represented “the next level of what to do with music.”

“Coming from very little,” Jeff says, “and using music to build a life, I’m now in this whole other realm of figuring out how music can give back. Through MusicLandria, I’m learning new ways to give to the community and make a better society.”

Jeff’s favorite instrument in MusicLandria’s catalog is the fretless bass. He’d never played bass before checking out this instrument. Being self-taught, he had to trust his ear a lot when playing. Fretless bass took this to a new level. “You really have to hear the pitches, and trust your ear when you get the right note.”

When asked why he chose MusicLandria over other resources, Jeff said, “The universe opened up… it was fate. Actually, I don’t know if there are any other music resources like this one!”

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