Bruce McCabe is a towering, albeit mild-mannered figure on the Twin Cities blues-rock scene. Co-leader of the sorely missed Hoopsnakes, McCabe is also the songwriter responsible for Jonny Lang's biggest hit, "Lie to Me," and another Lang song that Phillip Phillips recently rode to glory with on "American Idol" -- "Still Rainin.'"
But before any of that, he was a fixture of the Lamont Cranston Band, with whom he's once again playing select dates, including an album release party Saturday at Famous Dave's in Uptown.
McCabe's re-emergence alongside Pat "Lamont" Hayes and his crew is cause for celebration, since he's back from battling brain cancer -- grade 3 astrocytoma -- for the second time.
"I was out jogging and got this weird feeling that seemed too familiar, and I knew I had to get looked at right away," McCabe said. "If not, my head might have exploded."
He wound up at the Mayo Clinic a year ago. "I had a 10-hour surgery where I was awake throughout the whole thing, but drugged out, of course. It's amazing what doctors can do these days. I lucked out."
He's been playing around town again, first sparingly, now more regularly. "I don't have to take chemo now, which really tires you out. They'll check in a few weeks, give me another MRI, and see if stopping the chemo was a good idea."
One of his first post-surgery gigs was recording the new album, "Lamont Cranston Band, With Bruce McCabe."
"That was really nice of Pat Hayes to call me for the album," he said. "Y'know, Pat kinda trained me in when I first showed up in town, was like a teacher to me. I'd played with [Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman] Kim Wilson for a year before, but Pat was the one who really showed me the ropes of the blues.
"He was the boss," McCabe said, chuckling. "And I think he's getting better, as he gets older, at writing good songs."