Living Blues noted that McAllister is a "first rate drummer, harmonica player and potently soulful singer. His well crafted songs reveal a depth of creativity not only in the storytelling, social commentary and word play, but also in the sophisticated arrangements and blurring of stylistic boundaries. With an expressive vocal register falling somewhere between the soulful effervescence of Al Green and the blunt hammer of Johnny Taylor, a shrewd wit and admirable turn of a phrase, McAllister cements himself as a blues bard archetype".
Born in Dallas, Texas, United States, McAllister was raised in small-town Novice, Texas. He is a fifth generation Texan, whose father was a fireman and part-time blues drummer. The young McAllister purchased his first drum-kit for $40 having earned sufficient funds from mowing neighbor's lawns. By his early twenties, he graduated from the drums to playing the harmonica while stationed in Bedford, Massachusetts, when serving in the United States Air Force. He finished his tour of duty and moved back to Texas in 1984. Having taken further advice and tuition from Earring George Mayweather, McAllister relocated in 1989 to Alaska and spent three years playing in various local bands. He moved back to Texas in 1992, establishing a reputation as a harmonicist, vocalist and a songwriter. In the Dallas, Texas blues scene at that time, McAllister was compared by one author to a young Charlie Musselwhite.
He became friends with Mike Morgan, Andrew "Jr. Boy" Jones and Robin Sylar. McAllister sometimes fronted Morgan's band, The Crawl, both playing harmonica and singing. Through Jones affiliation with the British record label JSP Records, in 1997 McAllister signed his own recording contract and went on to release four albums with them. McAllister's debut album, Diggin' for Sofa Change, was produced by Jones who also played guitar. McAllister's songwriting has been noted to contain heartbreak, humor, and tall tales.
His trio of JSP releases were completed by Grease, Grit, Dirt & Spit (1998) and Double Rectified Bust Head (1999). Various other following albums were released through McAllister's own label, Freedom First Records. In June 2001, McAllister performed at Jazz in June in Norman, Oklahoma. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his 2002 album, Givers and Takers. In 2008, McAllister provided guitar work on Mike Morgan's album, Stronger Every Day (Severn Records).
In 2013, McAllister issued Crappy Food No Sleep a Van & Some Great Songs, which introduced his road band on disc for the first time. They are dubbed the Scrappiest Band in the Motherland. Gristle To Gold (2015) followed with a similar backing arrangement.
Fistful of Gumption (2016) on Reaction Records was McAllister's 13th album. All but one of the tracks was written by McAllister, although the second track, "Time for the Sun to Rise," was penned by Earl King. The final cut, "East Texas Scrapper," includes the prophetic lyrics "You can't outlast me / You can't wear me down / My super power is persistence / And I keep on sticking around."
|1997||Diggin' for Sofa Change||JSP Records|
|1998||Grease, Grit, Dirt & Spit||JSP Records|
|1999||Double Rectified Bust Head||JSP Records|
|2002||Givers and Takers||Freedom First Records|
|2006||Flying High While Staying Low Down (compilation album)||Freedom First Records|
|2007||Temporary Fixes||Freedom First Records|
|2007||A Little Left of Centre||(Import)|
|2007||Dope Slap Soup||Reaction Records|
|2008||Ain't Like the Movies||Reaction Records|
|2010||Be Like Water||(Import)|
|2013||Crappy Food No Sleep a Van & Some Great Songs||JSP Records|
|2015||Gristle to Gold||Reaction Records|
|2016||Fistful of Gumption||Reaction Records|