McDermott ready for Wednesday show at the Lougheed
John McDermott is set to play the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre in Camrose on Wednesday ay 8 p.m. Supplied
One of Canada's great tenors is set to take the stage at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre.
Best known for his rendition of classics like "Danny Boy" and "Loch Lamond," John McDermott has crafted a career that has spanned 25 years and continues to look for new music to record.
On Wednesday he will take the stage in Camrose for the first time in two decades. He promises a wide mix of the music he has recorded over the years.
"Realistically we do two or three new albums a year, so there's always new material and we never do the same show twice, which is a bit of a policy within the band," he said. "I'm in the lobby before the show and nine times out of 10 someone asks me if I'm singing a particular song, and if it's not on the set list I make sure it is. That keeps it fresh."
"Danny Boy" and "Loch Lamond" were the two songs that really put the Toronto-raised McDermott on the map, and those two songs will almost assuredly be on the set list on Wednesday, as they are two of the few songs that are part of every show he sings, but he never gets tired of them.
"Someone asked me that the other day, and I said, 'Do you think Bobby Orr ever got tired of scoring goals?' It's always fun, they're still great songs to do and everyone really I think is anticipating certain songs and those are definitely two of them."
The latest release by McDermott is a two-disc DVD called All Those Years that digs back through his career, going back to the very beginning with footage from when he was first starting out recording and performing "Danny Boy." The recording has footage of his parents talking about growing up in Glasgow and chronicles his career from about 1992 onward.
He grew up in Southern Ontario and he now calls Georgia Bay, Ont. home.
Giving back has always played a big role in his career, particularly when it comes to veterans. His family has a long history of serving in the armed forces and the last four years he has been raising money to help rebuild a palliative care wing at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto that serves many veterans. To this point his McDermott House Canada charity has raised $2.7 million of the $3.6 million goal for the project.
"We're looking to wrap it up this year and then we're going to move on to working with Hospice across the country," he said.
His connections to the troops also finds its way into his music, and plays a central role in one of his favourite songs — "Christmas in the Trenches." It tells the story of a truce that broke out between French, British and German troops on Christmas Eve in 1914. There are stories of meeting in No Man's Land and singing carols or playing football in some situations. However, there is a new song called "Christmas in 1914" about the scene that he is eager to record for a Christmas album this year.
"I never thought I'd hear anything that was better than 'Christmas in the Trenches' — this one brought me to tears. I thought 'I need to record this,'" he said.
The new song focuses more in on the first German voice that started singing carols on Christmas Eve that started the truce.
McDermott has shifted his style in recent years. For much of his career, many of the songs he recorded were "centuries old" but is now looking to more contemporary pieces and songs that were written in the last five to 10 years.
He is also now looking to the future, not just his own but for other up and coming recording artists. He is looking to share the stage with new musicians looking for a break.
It is something he did when he first started out, as he recruited a young fiddler named Ashley MacIssac, then 17 years old and playing at a bar, offering him $200 a night to play.
"I said to him every night, 'Look, just go out and steal the show.' And of course he did," said McDermott. "We had to follow what he does and then we had him as part of the band. It was terrific. That just lends itself to bringing in other musicians to share the stage."
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show on Wednesday are available through the Lougheed Centre box office or at www.camroselive.ca.