The Cape Cod Times - August 19, 2000
McDermott show taps Celtic soul
By Johanna Crosby
HYANNIS - It was damp and drizzly outside. But Scottish singer John McDermott lightened the spirits of his fans at the Cape Cod Melody Tent Friday night with an entertaining 130-minute concert of traditional Celtic music.
Besides his pleasant tenor voice, McDermott has charm to spare and a sharp wit, which he displayed with frequent asides to the audience. When his pianist had to wait for the power to be restored to his piano, causing a delay in test show, McDermott asked his fiddler and piper to play something to amuse the audience. "You call it filling in, " he quipped. They obliged by performing a jaunty jig.
Dressed in all black, the Toronto-raised McDermott has a relaxed low-key stage presence. He delivered a pleasing mix of both old and new dongs, including "Sonny's Dream," a tale about an elderly mother who begs her son not to go out to sea and leave her home alone, and a touching rendition of "The Old Man," a son's memories of his late father. And then there was "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," McDermott wrapped up the song by singing the chorus a capella.
He paid tribute to songwriter Tim Murphy who sat in the front row. McDermott asked Murphy to come onstage to explain why he wrote "The Wall", a moving song about the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC, before the group launched into the number.
McDermott's forte is singing ballads, and he delivered plenty of those throughout the two-set concert. But he showed he can turn on the power when he wants to by belting out "Scotland the Brave."
McDermott is a generous performer who gave the members of his crack four-piece band a chance in the limelight. The flutist delivered a few haunting songs on the Irish bag pips, and the fiddler performed the rousing "Orange Blossom Special." Three young Canadian women stole the show with their lively Ottawa Valley brand of step-dancing.
McDermott ended the evening on a sweet note with his lilting version of "Danny Boy" featuring a searing into by the Irish piper and then accompanies by his guitarist, leaving his fans clamoring for more.