Tenor sings on a whim and for cause



photo submitted

JOHN MCDERMOTT returns with his band to perform at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday.

By Kristin Froneman
Morning Star Staff

Apr 01 2007

John McDermott and award winning songwriter Ron Sexsmith team up for new CD

One is known for his warm, clear tenor; the other for his delicate and clever way with words.

In a match made on a Canadian love-lorn landscape of gold and wine-coloured pathways, crooner John McDermott has teamed up with songwriter Ron Sexsmith on his new album, On a Whim.

The CD, co-produced by both men, comes on the heels of McDermott’s 14-date B.C. tour, which stops at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday.

“It’s very contemporary and the opposite of what I normally put out,” said McDermott, referring to his work as an original member of international singing group Irish Tenors and his solo efforts, such as his much revered first album Danny Boy.

“I’m basically done with the Irish Tenors. I’m back doing my own stuff on my own time frame. However, Ronan (Tynan, one of other original Irish Tenors) and I are planning to do a duo in the near future.”

McDermott is currently focussing on his latest collaboration.

Both recognized internationally for their musical proclivity, it was just a matter of time McDermott would re-team with Sexsmith. The two met at a tsunami fund-raiser two years ago, and collaborated on McDermott’s Images of Christmas album. (Sexsmith contributed the song Maybe This Christmas.)

“I approached him about recording more of his songs, he picked 12, and we arranged them. We put a different dress on for these pieces, including full strings, horns and woodwinds. Ron also plays piano on one song.”

Co-produced by both men, the CD features known tunes such as Fallen, which k.d lang also recorded for her Songs from the 49th Parallel album, Gold In Them Hills, Thinking Out Loud and Foolproof, and some lesser known songs such as It’s All Too Much, Your Guess Is As Good As Mine and the title track.

Musicians on the CD include members of McDermott’s touring band: Toronto guitarist Jason Fowler, Celtic artist Brigham Phillips on keyboards and Qualicum Beach native Phil Dwyer on sax and flute, all of whom are scheduled to perform in Vernon, the second visit for McDermott at the Performing Arts Centre.

Also joining the band will be fiddler Anne Lindsay, who is best known for her work with Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame, and McDermott’s former back-up singer Alison Girvan, who now lives in Nelson.

“We’ll be everywhere around the West Coast. I also have a busy fall and will be performing with the Edmonton Symphony,” said McDermott, who recently wrapped up a performance with the Nashville Symphony.

The singer is well-known in the U.S. not only with his performances with the Irish Tenors, but with his cause - veteran affairs.

“My dad was a tail gunner in the Second World War and my mom lost a brother in a prison camp. I had always a silent, quiet support for vets,” he said.

That quiet support turned more vocal as McDermott made a name for himself as an artist when he set up a fund for two transitional shelters for homeless vets.

His name now graces three of those centres, including the Hope McDermott Day Program Center in Boston (also named after his mother) and the McDermott House in Washington, D.C.

“We just opened another McDermott house in Nashville,” said McDermott. “These are for guys who have hit rock bottom.... There is still nothing in Canada, but I would like to get something started in Ottawa and Toronto as we will soon have a while new rack of veterans from Afghanistan.”

His work with vets earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Bob Hope Award in 2000.

As of late, McDermott has turned his attention to another cause through his connection with British businessman Wynford Dore, whom he met in Manchester at a hospice fundraiser.

“He is opening clinics around the world to set up a non-drug treatment for ADD and dyslexia,” said McDermott, who will spearhead the expansion of Dore Achievement Centers into Canada.

John McDermott and his Band take the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45.50, available at the Ticket Seller box office, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.

Copyright 2007 Vernon Morning Star