I hope you all had a fun Halloween. We started celebrating the scary holiday by attending Halloweensteen, a Bruce Springsteen tribute concert performed annually by Chicago native singer/songwriter Michael McDermott. It appears to be a beloved Chicago tradition that I had never heard of before with many repeat attendees. Now I know why. The show exceeded our expectations. There’s a big difference between a bunch of local musicians forming a tribute band to mimic an artist’s music and a professional musician like McDermott assembling other professional musicians to interpret and perform another professional’s songs.
Our seats were outstanding. The last time my wife and I were at the excellent and classy Park West concert hall, we stood and swayed through a show by Brit pop-rocker Dave Edmunds. However, my wife has knee issues worse than me, so I called ahead to check and see if we could be guaranteed seats. Well, not only were we provided seats, but they were just off to the side of the stage on a padded bench in a handicappped section. We had a great view.
There was a bit of a problem as drinking progressed at the 2+ hour show. I’ll explain.
Back in the early 1990s, Chicago native Michael McDermott was being hailed as the next Dylan or Springsteen or mutant hybrid Dylsteen with a harmonica for a mouth. Even author Stephen King was quoting McDermott lyrics in his books while calling him “possibly the greatest undiscovered rock and roll talent of the last 20 years.” Was he? Take a listen to this rocker from 1993’s Gethsemane album.
Pretty strong tune that one can still hear from time-to-time on WXRT in Chicago. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with my assessment. Alas, initial fame was not kind to him, and he ended up having to rebuild a broken life and career. He now lives in the Chicago suburbs with his family while making new music in his home studio. And he still plays live shows, one of which I will be seeing tonight! But I’m not sure he will perform “West of Eden.” Here’s why.
Maybe you like that old Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” I’m not a huge fan since it didn’t really say anything. It was just a song with a list of headlines from his life as lyrics. Still, it was a huge hit, and it was clever how he wove all the people and events into the lyrics.
I get a similar vibe from this new Michael McDermott song, except McDermott definitely has something to say. What’s that? Who is Michael McDermott? He’s a Chicago guy making music with an Irish-tinged sound. He’s not my favorite musical artist, but how can a Flanigan not like a McDermott from Chicago.
There’s no doubt on which side of the political landscape that McDermott has chosen to stand. Take a listen …
Despite only being released 3 weeks ago, I hate to admit the lyrics are already a bit dated. McDermott sings, “Dark days coming for the USA.” Sorry, Michael, they are already here.
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