Chicago-based folk-rocker Michael McDermott will bring his lyrical and musical talents to The Loft at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway on Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $20 and can be purchased at www.ucpac.org. The concert is part of the on-going Split Level Concert Series which highlights the best singer-songwriters in a uniquely intimate setting.
Influenced by such musical giants as Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, McDermott is known for his mature and lyrically dense songwriting. The New York Times writes, “McDermott is a powerful folk-rock singer with a developed melodic facility and lots of stage charisma.” The Washington Post writes, “McDermott may well become one of his generation’s greatest talents.”
McDermott’s first album, 620 West Surf, boasted a Billboard Hot 100 charting single (“A Wall I Must Climb”). Since then, he has continued to write introspective, character-driven songs that have won him an enduring fan base, including best-selling author Stephen King who has written: “Michael McDermott is one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock ‘n’ roll talent of the last 20 years.”
The road McDermott has traveled hasn't always been easy. The anthemic, arena-filling “Scars From Another Life” (from his latest release Hit Me Back) paints a picture of just how far he has come: “I was so down... I had completely lost my way / When I hit Broadway I began to realize / That all they are are scars from another life.” His life since becoming a recording artist—full of myriad highest highs, gutter-skimming lows, and absolute rock bottoms over the past two decades—could read like a screenplay, but with stories so ridiculously outlandish that they couldn’t possibly be true.
All of it—the addiction, the failed relationships, the financial dramas, the career hurdles—have left plenty of scars, but McDermott is moving on, moving up, and taking charge. He makes no excuses for his past—it made him who he is today—but sings to everyone listening (and to himself): “Don’t run away, they’re scars from another life.”
It's been quite a ride since McDermott unleashed his debut, 620 West Surf, but one might even go so far as to say that Hit Me Back represents the work of a new artist - for the first time in his recording career, McDermott is a father, a philanthropic entrepreneur, and has experienced the loss of an adored parent. All are major life changes which have found achingly honest expression in his songs.
Hit Me Back also exudes McDermott's trademark embrace of faith and hope in the face of adversity. The lyrics are, as always, uniquely evocative: He sings in poetry; his tunes are literate story-songs. On the haunting "Ever After," he offers the listener palpable insight into the jarring confusion and doubt felt in the days that followed his mother's passing (in October 2011). The wryly observed title track puts a new spin on fighting a long-time nemesis, alcohol. His demon-banishing in the aforementioned “Scars From Another Life” is echoed in the love-is-redemption refrains of “Let It Go.” The exploration of temptation and bowing to its siren call is explored in the Americana-laced “A Deal With The Devil.”
Upcoming Split Level Concerts include:
Garland Jeffries – April 5 at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage
Kim Richey with special guest Darden Smith – April 20 at the UCPAC Loft
Freddie Stevenson – May 4 at the UCPAC Loft
James Maddock – June 7 at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage
Livingston Taylor – June 15 at the UCPAC Hamilton Stage