The Tidemark stage is along way from the Toronto Sun circulation department.
And the actual distance – about 3,500 km as the crow flies – is a good representation of John McDermott’s long career in the music business.
The Canadian tenor – whose past career was in the newspaper industry – is celebrating his 20th anniversary on stage and this Friday the North American tour stops by Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre.
The Mirror recently caught up with McDermott, 58, who took a break from yet another recording session to answer a few questions:
Q: How many shows in 20 years?
John McDermott: In 199…(pauses to recall) 8, we did 262 shows in one year. We left no one unaffected (laughs). Now its about 75 to 100 a year.
Q: A moment on stage you’ll never forget?
JM: Wow, too many. But in 1994, at one of my first shows, at the Royal Alex in Toronto, we sold out and my Mom and Dad were coming. However, my Dad fell before the show and needed 14 stitches in his head. I didn’t know anything about it because the word went out: “Don’t tell McDermott!”
Anyway, the hospital wanted to keep Dad in for observation. He told the nurse, “I don’t think so,” got off the gurney and said to Mom, “You can stay here or you can come with me.” So they came back to the show and when I introduced both of them, he stood up and his head was wrapped in bandages. I thought, “What the hell?” Afterwards, at the reception, there was still a blood trickle down the back of his neck. That’s a real memorable moment.
Q: Who did you first sing to?
JM: I remember school in Scotland when I was seven. We had a competition. I was going to do a Beatles tune, but I sang Scottish Soldier and won a Lego set.
Q: You sang at the funeral service for your friend Ted Kennedy. The rest of us are wondering, what is the Kennedy Compound like?
JM: (His) place is like a summer cottage. It’s been turned into a public place and his wife wants a public museum. It’s just a big cottage and it’s not as private as the public thinks – there are neighbours. The main house is massive…it was beautiful.
Q: Twenty-five albums in 20 years, pretty prolific for a guy unsure about embarking on a music career.
JM: Thirty-two albums! The website is wrong and there’s two more on the way.
Q: Is there a song your audience demands at each and every concert?
JM: Danny Boy, no question. I ain’t gettin’ out of the building till I sing Danny Boy. I learned to give them what they want, not what you think they want, and I don’t see any downside to that at all.
Q: Where will you be singing on Remembrance Day?
JM: I will be at the Sunnybrook Veteran’s Hospital in Toronto.
Q: Any predictions for your Maple Leafs this season?
JM: So cruel! That’s such a cruel question. I’m pulling for the Red Sox in the World Series and the Leafs to make the second round (of playoffs) after that. It’s anybody’s game after that!
- John McDermott’s 20th anniversary tour comes to the Tidemark Theatre on Friday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $47.50, plus taxes and fees, available at the box office or by calling 250-287-7465.