7-17-04 Review



"Summer always brings about some changes," a wise man once wrote...kidding of course. Hey everybody. Hope all is well in the well that has hope...uh... Kinda regrouping now. For a little stretch there, it wasn't feeling very good, but as the eternal optimist, I am excited that we have some fairly exciting things on the horizon. But, as always, can't say what at this particular time. God Bless...Go Cubbies...Hope to see you all soon... Keep calling the radio stations... pretty please?
- mm -

* A LITTLE ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: You know when trying to put together this newsletter turns into an almost full-time job, it's time to dial it back a tiny bit! That's what had been happening -- trying to get this newsletter out monthly was taking so much more time than I ever anticipated, that I had a little pow-wow recently with both Michael and his manager Gregg. And we came to the mutual decision that it's much better to have quality over quantity, so the newsletter will hereby become bi-monthly. Never fear -- you'll still get the same great info here... perhaps even more of it since all of us -- Michael's team behind the scenes -- will have more time to pull the necessary pieces together. So, the next issue following this one will reach your emailboxes in October. Which gives you PLENTY of time to come up with your questions for Michael, and your contest entries, and your comments for us... you know, all the wonderful stuff you send our way. Please keep it coming and we'll keep this newsletter coming to you!

* AN APPLE A DAY: It's time to tell EVERYONE you know -- friends, family, acquaintances -- that Michael's album "Ashes" is now available for download on Apple's iTunes site. Go to iTunes to download it for your iPod!

* ON THE ROAD AGAIN: For those of you patiently, oh so patiently waiting for West Coast dates, Michael's booking agent Eric assures me a West Coast tour leg is in the plans for the fall. We'll keep you posted as dates are confirmed!

This month, I thought it was finally time to sit down and talk with Michael on the phone for the newsletter. So, while he was driving to a meeting in his car, he was kind enough to let me interview him on his cell phone last week. Here's what we chatted about:

Michael McDermott Newsletter: So tell me how the tour has been going so far?

Michael McDermott: The tour, we're not doing anything this second, but the band is great and the shows have been getting stronger every time. I'm kind of at a crossroads of how much new stuff to teach the band. That's kind of frustrating.

News: New stuff that's not even on "Ashes"?

McD: Right. To me, "Ashes" stuff is old. I would like to be fired up about doing some new stuff, but it's so contingent on what the next move is. But, yeah, the band's great, and I love playing with them. We're having a blast, and it's only getting better, which is really good.

News: I've asked the rest of the band this in their Q&A's, but do you have any funny stories from the road? I know you mentioned that very expensive cab ride in Boston.

McD: I can't think of anything offhand really. Nothing comes to mind. I can't think of anything that funny. I read Rene's funny story, and I didn't even know about it.

News: With people coming up to you after shows and talking to you, what has feedback been like from them about the new record?

McD: The feedback has been great. And the commentary on the band has been really, well, not surprising, but so positive. They've been blown away by them. So I know I'm doing something right. But it's the matter of financial restrictions. I just can't have them out all the time. I just can't afford it.

News: When fans entered the contest that required them to name their favorite song on "Ashes," "Dance With Me" won by one vote. Does that surprise you at all? Because a long, long time ago, when I heard the first mixes of that song, I told you how much I liked it and you were surprised.

McD: Yeah, it does surprise me. We're considering maybe going with that as a single. I don't know. That's one Gregg's always been really supportive of, and other people who I respect or trust their judgement have said that too. But to me, I just don't get it as much as everybody else. But I've been known to be wrong. They must know something I don't.

News: So tell me about some of the new songs that aren't on "Ashes" that you've been playing on the road. I know that "Perfectly Imperfect" has been making it onto a lot of set lists. Which ones are road-testing well?

McD: That one, and "When It Comes To You." Those are the only two we've been doing regularly. We've tried out a couple here and there, but then if someone's recording it makes me a little bit skittish because I'm not ready for the song to be in circulation yet. It's not a big deal. But it might change, and the verses might change. It's not done... Well, even when it's recorded the song's never done growing. Those two in particular have been getting really good response. We tried the song "America In Me," which I pulled the plug on, because I think it can be really good, but it's just not there yet, and I just haven't really had the frame of mind to go back to it and re-tool it.

News: So you're getting ready to celebrate a birthday very soon. Do you find it hard getting older?

McD: Yeah, definitely. It just makes you... a part of you just wishes it was a video game and you could just hit "restart." I'd like to go back and do-over. Not the whole thing. But parts of it. Just because a lot of things personally and professionally and certain decisions. I mean, obviously, you're going to regret certain things you do, but then a part of you thinks you shouldn't regret anything and they're all learning experiences. You think it's all kind of heading in the right direction. I think it's taking me a lot longer to turn the monster around and get it to where I could tame it.

News: Some celebrities in their interviews will say like, "Oh I've learned so much in growing older and I feel it has brought me x, y, and z." Is there anything in particular that you feel that age has brought you in a positive way?

McD: That's a great question. It's brought me some perspective, I guess. Perspective on my shortcomings. Certainly it makes you keenly aware of the waste of time and the time I've wasted, and folly, and being a child, and having a Peter Pan complex. Age makes you realize that you can't be Peter Pan, but part of my heart's always going to be a boy and I want to conserve that as long as I can.

News: How old would you say that you feel?

McD: 24 maybe. I like that part of it, but obviously... I just heard in a wedding, my brother's wedding, the other day, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I walked as a child, now I'm a man and I have to put away those childish things..." I can't remember if that's Corinthians or what.

News: I'm pretty certain it is.

McD: There's truth to that. And that's a big pill to swallow. It's goin' down, but it ain't goin' down smoothly. It's in my esophagus somewhere.

News: Enough about age... What has been your favorite show on the tour, because of the venue, or the location, or the audience was great or the show felt great?

McD: It would be the Singer/Songwriter weekend. It's probably the best gig I've ever had. And it was just amazing and I felt like it was a peek behind the curtain at Oz. I wonder sometimes about guys who play to 8200 people a night, or even greater crowds than that... and it wasn't necessarily the number, it was the enthusiasm of the crowd... and I thought, "I wonder if Johnny Rzeznik's long forgotten what that feels like..." I was emotional, I wept after the show, I had goosebumps on stage. It was everything I dream about. And for that one day, for that one 45 minutes, God gave it to me. I'll be eternally grateful for that, but I'm hoping that he wouldn't tease me, you know, give me a taste of that and say, "Hope you enjoyed it, because that's the last you're getting." But I hope it's more like, "Hang in there, pal. It's coming. But you gotta do some housecleaning and re-tweak a few things in your mind and maybe you can do it." But that was heads and shoulders above any other gig we've done.

News: You talked about this a little bit earlier, but how do you feel playing with your current band has changed things for you as a performer? I feel like you are a different person onstage now with them.

McD: Yeah, it's really kicked me in the ass. It's raised the bar for me. I go out there and I try to prove it to them every night, where before, with all due respect to the guys, it was up to me to make the show. And it felt like more of a show. This is a test of will and artistry and courage up there with them. I have to be able to look at them before I have the guts to open my eyes and look at the audience. I gotta feel like I'm on solid ground with them and then we take it out there. It's inspiring, really, sincerely.

News: You mentioned writing new songs that you haven't even taught to them. Are they playing a part, even if they're not directly writing with you, in the writing that you're doing?

McD: We haven't gotten to that point yet. I'd like to woodshed with them at some point.

News: I guess I also meant are they inspiring you in your current writing?

McD: I haven't gotten into that mode. Usually, after I tour, there's a period of digestion that, it kinda seeps in. It's a seeping process. And you start writing things that you think they would really bring life to. That's kinda how I worked in the past. Like the "Gethsamane" record, because that was obviously band-inspired. So I think they have a huge effect on what I will write and what I think, but it just hasn't come to fruition yet.

News: You don't know what will happen down the road, but would you be interested in recording with them at some point?

McD: Absolutely. I want to. I hope we can. We're still getting to know each other, to where we could go in and I'd be able to walk the high wire without a net. We still need a little more time and a few more gigs under our belts first. I'd like to go out in a market and start doing a regular gig thing with them where we could build a little more faith in each other musically.

News: Which songs from "Ashes" seem to be making the transition to the live setting the best so far? Are there some that are becoming something that you never expected them to be?

McD: Yeah, "Everything I Got" is one. It's just cooler than the record I think. I never imagined it that way. I still think we kind of missed on the recording of that song. It's the way I would have liked to have done it. And "Arm Yourself" and "Hellfire." I love playing "Hellfire" with those guys.

News: On the flip side of that, have any of the songs disappointed you live?

McD: "Hold Back A River," I don't know, something still leaves me dry when we play that. "Darkest Night Of All" is another one where I feel like we're up there swinging and it hasn't really clicked yet. "One Way To Go" I never really gave a chance to. "Hold Back A River" is a really cool song, but sometimes it's really not.

News: Sometimes it takes a while to find your stride.

McD: And I get very easily slowed. If it doesn't go good one night, I'll bury it forever. Like I might miss a chord change and be ready to pack it up. I've been compared to Mussolini as a band director. So they'd have reason to be a little skittish.

News: No, if you read all of the interviews I did with them, they all gave me very similar positive answers about you. So you must have them snowed. So of the stuff you've written recently, what's been inspiring you?

McD: I have a really good song now, I really like it, called "Antique Store." And also, overall, Dominique's had a lot to do with inspiring me. I'm kinda close to something and I don't know what it is. Little bits are coming. I've taken a little break from writing the past three weeks. So I'm excited because I don't really know what's going to happen.

News: The muse is poised, ready to speak, and you're waiting...

McD: Let's hope!

News: When you guys were out on the road, what kind of stuff were you listening to when you were traveling from town to town?

McD: I don't really like to listen to too much music while I'm on the road. They usually had it. I still listen to the same boring stuff I always listen to: The Waterboys, Waits, you know. Somebody had a Morphine record which I thought was kinda cool. There was something real visual to me about that stuff, which I thought was really cool. It made me sit up and go, "Who is this?"

News: Ok, this is a total job interview question, but where do you see yourself five years from now?

McD: I hope I'm a man who has some kind of peace, and I hope I'm playing music. Those are very simple things I ask for when I kneel down and fold my hands. I ask for a lot of things, but concerning myself, those are the two things I ask for.

Now that we've given you some insight into Michael via his bandmates (in past issues) and himself (in the feature above), we thought we'd dig even deeper for this issue and talk to someone who has known him for years. Recently, we sat down and spoke to producer Dan Petty via telephone to ask him a few questions about working with Michael. Here is what transpired:

MM Newsletter: Your history with Michael is a long one and a number of people reading this may not realize how long the two of you have been working together. Can you give me the rundown on that?

Dan Petty: It was ’91 or ’92 when he was putting out his first record. Right before the record came out, he was putting a band together. My brother got involved as a keyboard player, and through him I got involved. [My brother] Doug and I were living in New York, but they brought us out to Chicago. And we started out on this really low-budget tour. It was really fun though, because I was 21 or 22. We had a blast. It was the first time Michael, Doug and I had been on the road, so we stared touring. We toured the first record for a long time. We did another record in Seattle with a guy named Rick Parishar that never got released. Then we toured, and we did another record, the “Gethsamane” record, in North Carolina. We toured for a long time with that with Aimee Mann, and it was funny because with Michael, things got progressively a little better. We started with a van, then we got an R.V., then we finally got a tour bus. Nice progression of things. We worked together until after that “Gethsamane” record. Then Michael and I toured together with the Cowboy Junkies just the two of us. We worked together for a long time. We got busy doing different things, and I hadn’t seen him for a long time, and a few years ago, he was in L.A. and gave me a call and said he was doing a new record. And I’ve been producing records. He said he wanted to do his next album with me. And that’s kind of our relationship in a nutshell.

MMN: What were your first impressions of Michael when you first met – as both a person and a musician?

DP: It’s funny because when we first met he was really serious and really quiet. He didn’t really drink or anything. The rest of us – me and Doug and Dan and Kerry – we would go out and party. In the beginning, Michael would kinda be on his own a little more and he was writing – just a lot more serious.

MMN: Which is funny because now he’s Mr. Life Of The Party and wants to be in the center of it all.

DP: Absolutely. He was so different. Much more quiet.

MMN: How about as a musician? How have you seen him change over time?

DP: He’s changed – even lyrically he’s gotten deeper and deeper over time. What’s funny about Michael is he came out of the box with a real vision of what he wanted to do. Which not many people do. As a musician, I certainly didn’t. He had this really fully-formed identity and sound and vision at that young of an age. And he’s really stuck to it. The music has changed some. Some are more rock and some are more this and that, but it’s still really him each time. I found that really impressive when I met him. I thought, “Wow, this guy’s really got it together.”

MMN: When you hooked up, had you been playing out at all?

DP: I just had moved to New York. My brother got the gig because somebody had seen him play with Joan Osborne. I was just out of school and I was just getting started.

MMN: Tell me about working with Michael on “Ashes.” What is it like working with him in the studio?

DP: We had such a great time doing this record because we’ve known each other for so long. For the most part, it was just the two of us. I have a small studio in Hollywood, and most of the time it was just the two of us and we’d bring in a drummer or a bass player. We have a lot of the same frame of reference. He can say something like, “Oh, it should be like this,” and I know what he’s talking about.

MMN: That’s pretty priceless to have that comfort level when you are working with someone as a musician.

DP: Absolutely. And you know there is a trust involved. It’s like, “You may not love everything I do, but…” Pretty much, we know what we are trying to do and I’m not going to do something that’s completely off the mark for him. It was really great, having that kind of relationship, knowing each other backwards and forwards. It meant a lot to both of us to do this record.

MMN: How does his recording style differ from other people you’ve worked with as a producer?

DP: The greatest thing is when he does a vocal on a song, he sings it down. Pretty much the first take is great. From just doing it all the time, so many singers I’ve worked with, even good singers, they have to do a whole lot of takes and we can comp together one good vocal to try to make it sound good. But Michael, he might comp in a couple of things just to get the perfect thing, but almost all the time, the first take is great. Which is very impressive.

MMN: What is your favorite song on “Ashes”?

DP: That’s hard to say. “Arm Yourself” is probably my favorite song. We just really got into such a cinematic thing with that, and took it to such a big place. “Baby I” I just like. “Darkest Night” and “Can’t Sleep Tonight” I like a lot too.

MMN: It’s interesting, “Arm Yourself” has become even a more cinematic live song. It’s gotten pretty big live in a very good way I think.

DP: I saw him when he first put this band together, but I haven’t seen them recently. I’ve heard they sound really great now.

MMN: What is your favorite Michael song over time? You’ve known him, pretty much, from the very beginning and know all of his stuff.

DP: I don’t know if it’s his best song, but “Wall I Must Climb” I always go back to because it’s so evocative of the time when we were starting out and it was a single and it was so exciting to hear it on the radio. I love going back to that song. If you were going to say, “Let’s sit down and play one of his songs,” that would be my choice.

MMN: What do you think Michael’s biggest strength is?

DP: I think just the fact that he stays so true to himself. It’s probably his biggest strength and his biggest weakness. He stays so true to himself and knows just what he’s going to do. It’s really very hard to do that in this business. A lot of people in this business try to change to fit into what is popular, and he just stays who he is. That’s pretty impressive.

MMN: Any funny stories about working with Michael that you can share?

DP: Whenever the two of us are together, the two of us are always coming up with “Remember that!” things. And there are a bunch that are coming to mind, but I just couldn’t tell the stories.

MMN: Have to protect the guilty.

DP: Exactly. The problem with so many road stories is that they don’t translate really well.

MMN: You had to be there.

DP: Right. There were a lot of funny times on the road.

MMN: Is there anything else you’d like to share about Michael with his fans that they might not get anywhere else?

DP: One thing I know… he’ll be embarrassed if I say this… but he’s the kind of guy – for real – where you’ll be hanging out with him, watching TV. This really did happen one time, we were watching TV and one of those “Save The Children” ads came on. Michael was so moved by it that he picked up the phone and said, “I gotta call.” And he donated a bunch of money. And that sounds so corny, but he’s very sincere with that stuff. It’s very true with him. He’s very sincere.

This month, for our live show review, Mil was kind enough to cover Michael's July 17th XPN Singer/Songwriters' Weekend appearance in Philadelphia. Here is what she had to say about this amazing performance:

As you probably recall, Michael noted in the newsletter's previous issue, "Writing on this particular day, I'm heading to Philadelphia to do the Singer/Songwriter show…quite excited. I've been wanting this gig forever and a day it seems, and it's here…love when that happens."

What Michael couldn't possibly know, of course, at the time he penned those words, was just how this day would end. And for those who had already long been following and - indeed in various ways as management, friends, fans - sharing in his career, I'd have to say the hope of these words surely carried as well an almost parental feeling of…not quite fear, but rather a more measured hopefulness, a prayer that not even the slightest tinge of negative circumstance (rain, technical difficulties, and or any number of factors beyond his control) might mar this long-awaited, joyfully anticipated day for Michael. After all, as Krista states in her artist bio of him, Michael's "seen his career careen between highs (MTV hit single…halcyon days of coverage in Rolling Stone) and the lowest lows (having his label shutter its doors, not being able to recapture those same halcyon highs), yet he's never lost his faith, his hope, his desire to create music." And, it was hoped that this undying commitment to what he's created and those touched by it would indeed on this day prove a moment of faith rewarded.

It was.

But even arriving twenty minutes before the show, and entering the packed amphitheater-type venue on a beautiful sunny day, one might still not have been sure…at least, that is, if one were not familiar with the side of Michael that remains ever self-doubting, ever uncertain of the power at his command. Seated on the steps beside the stage, nervously puffing on a Marlboro Light, his slightly green complexion very likely prompted a moment of panic in passersby en route to their seats…and though certainly not in enjoyment of his "misery", a bit of a smile from me. For, once you've seen just how unfounded Michael's doubts invariably prove to be, they become nothing more than another reason to admire the true artist within - an artist not merely capable of surprising audiences every time he steps on stage, but one so clearly human and ingenuous that he routinely surprises even himself.

Of course, standing before a clearly far beyond capacity crowd (and daunted only by the prospect of ever finding a seat amongst 8200 people!), my own vestiges of trepidation on Michael's behalf were long forgotten. And, it was therefore no surprise when his introduction by XPN's Michaela Majoun was greeted with an enthusiasm level that the band immediately matched as the set opened with "Spark". Moving into the first of several songs from Ashes (the album so widely embraced by Philadelphia music lovers as to bring about this appearance in the first place) Michael began the now familiar intro to "Arm Yourself" before allowing the infectious spirit of the crowd to encourage a bit of improvisation on a brand new intro, first spoken and then sung, to the soaring "Hellfire In The Holyland". Certain by this time of how strong the tide of positive feeling washing onto him from the audience, Michael at last shared a bit of his own positive feeling in return. Noting he'd "been waiting for this gig my whole life", and thanking XPN's Bruce Warren for his station's overwhelming support, Michael offered a bit of commentary that I believe captures his entire person in a nutshell: all the doubt, the humor, the wonder - and the gratitude - that add up to the greatness displayed on this occasion. In high school "I never got invited to dances…I know I'm really cool now, but… Thanks for inviting me to the dance today."

And, dance the crowd did, as the band burned up the stage on "Dance With Me", followed by the signature theme of those aforementioned halcyon highs of Michael's early career, "A Wall I Must Climb"….and a bit of the up and down journey in between -including an ill-fated encounter with a "Junkie Girl" and a moment of self-discovery "20 Miles South of Nowhere". Coming full circle, he returned to the present, and yet another unstoppable flurry of words declaring this day "a dream come true", adding "thanks for being a part of this dream with me", and thanks to XPN for playing the present day hit, "Everything I Got".

Thinking surely this must signal the end of the amazing set, the appreciative audience rose collectively to their feet, cheering, clapping, offering every form of thanks in return they could possibly convey. But in that spirit of characteristically surprising every crowd he stands before, Michael declared "I'm not done yet!", and offered a few more revelations, including, "I've got goosebumps! I can't remember the last time I had goosebumps"…before closing with his longtime life philosophy to "Leave It Up The Angels."

As I noted in a post-show recap on Michael's website bulletin board, "The Pauper's Sky", beyond question the angels were all smiling on Michael this day. And, his joy in return was positively palpable. And, for all of us longtime supporters in attendance, to witness - and share in - that long awaited and unfettered emotion was undoubtedly the greatest joy of all.

As a bit of an afterword, it should be noted that immediately following the show the crowd approached not only Michael, but every member of the band to express their own joy and amazement at the talent they'd just heard. Danny's outstanding drum work, Dominique's mastery of her vintage Rickenbacker bass, and Rene's intricate and impassioned guitar accompaniment all made it difficult to hold conversations after the show for the many (most welcome!) interruptions, and resulted in the entire band's presence being required at the post-show meet and greet that took place an hour later…an event, incidentally, expected to last perhaps thirty minutes - but, which (despite a rather briskly moving pace) ending up running fully double that!

In conclusion, I can only add my sincere thanks to Michael and the band for making July 17, 2004 truly a red letter day in the history of the one Michaela Majoun dubbed, "Michael McDermott, rock star…Michael McDermott, singer/songwriter"…indeed the one, the only…Michael McDermott. May it be only the first of many, many more such amazing days to come.

Our winner of last month's contest (a signed promo "Summer Days"/"Bells" 45 single) is Billy in Chicago. He will be getting the 45 soon! Enjoy! And we found the responses to "tell us your favorite Michael McDermott album" to be really interesting. Rather than give you the details here, skip to the Fan Fare section below to see what people had to say!

This month, we'll be giving away a song! Yes, Michael has agreed to send a copy of a completely unreleased song to the lucky winner. (I'm guessing he'll burn it onto a CD for you.) We don't know the song title yet, but it's gotta be worth adding to your collection!

Wanna win? Here's how.... Send an email to us at ENTER CONTEST. You have to make the subject line: "Release the song to me!" If you don't have that exact subject line, we won't consider your entry. Then, in the body of the email, tell us what your favorite Michael McDermott concert experience has been. If you haven't seen him live, that's fine, just tell us that instead. Doesn't need to be a long explanation -- a sentence is plenty, or more if you want. We'll take all of the entries who put the right subject line and include their favorite McDermott live experience, and have Michael randomly select a winner.

We'll print the winner's name, and the results of the favorite album poll in the next issue!

Entries must be received by September 15th. Good luck! Only one entry per person, please. Thanks!


We mentioned who won the 45 single above, but in order to enter that contest, people had to respond with their favorite Michael McDermott album. I know what my favorite is (the self-titled album), but was very curious to hear what everyone else had to say. At first, I thought for sure it was going to be a runaway winner, but then as more votes came in, the voting spread out a bit more evenly. "620 W. Surf" won by three votes. "Michael McDermott" came in second place. "Gethsamane" came in third, "Last Chance Lounge" came in fourth, and we even had an "I Like Them All!" vote. I got some awesome responses from folks yet again, so I'm including their comments below. Read on!

Comments About The Albums
Billy (our winner) said: My favorite album is still 620 W. Surf, bur I really like them all. I uploaded all of them onto my machine and added them to my MusicMatch Jukebox, so now I just click "Random" on the playlist. Actually, if that's acceptable, I'd like to change my answer to "All-- Random."

Rocco said: My favorite album is "Michael McDermott". I'm sure everyone is going to say this, but our (my wife and I) favorite song is Summer Days. We've actually talked to Michael about it one time at a bar when we saw him, my wife is friends with Eileen Murphy who the song is written about. Anyway, it's our favorite song and we always ask MM to play it at his shows but he always says he doesn't like to play it very often, he feels people don't want to hear it over and over again. I'll never get sick of hearing it. Perfect song to blast with your windows down while driving!

Michael said: That's tough...I really like "Ashes", but I would have to say that "Michael McDermott" simply because that's the first MMcD album I heard, and man...it hit me like a bullet.

Connie said: If I had to pick (which is what you are expecting) I would go with "Last Chance Lounge". I am not a very good critic because I tend to love everything Michael puts out, but this seems to be the CD that hits my player the most. In the title track I can actually feel myself sitting at the end of the bar observing, feeling, smelling the entire scene.

Henrik said: Well, they say that your first love is the best one and in this case I have to agree. I read a stunning article in a swedish (!) newspaper about a new singer/songwriter named Michael Mc Dermott which seemed to interest me. So, I bought "620 W Surf" without even listening to it before, and I wasn´t disapointed... Gems like "A wall I must climb", "Your silence...", the title track, "Murder in the first degree" and the awesome "Trembling hour" finally brought me out of my heavy metal years for good! A couple of years later in Paris, newly wed, by the way, I found "Gethsemane" and since..I´m a true fan.!

Scott said: My favorite album is "Gethsemane"-- a brilliant work from beginning to end. The relentless passion in each song-- "Just West of Eden," "Moonlit Prayer," "Leave It Up to the Angels," "Sailor," "The Idler..."-- is simply stunning. I spent many late nights listening to that album. Thanks for costing me so much sleep, Michael!

Mike said: My favorite Michael McDermott album ( so far..I only have 2 ! )would have to be his self titled album Michael McDermott.The songs are so good. From the first time that I received and played it (June 2004) I was impressed with how good it was. I have listened to it several times in the past month and have turned 2 other friends on to Michael's music. Musically and lyrically it is my favorite to date, very strong stuff!. I just received 620 W Surf and have ordered Gethsemane and look forward to collecting Michael's entire work.

Janet said: My favorite album is his first. Why?? I don't know for sure. I was in record store (yes, I mean RECORD, it was '91!), and I stumbled across his album. Something deep inside me, that I usually ignore, told me to buy it, and I did. The music on that album probably saved my life. I am ever grateful that there is someone out there that can write such honest lyrics and also have so much talent with so many instruments. Thank you for all your hard work MIchael!

Sheila said: My favorite Michael McDermott cd is "620 W Surf" because that is when I discovered Michaels' Music, literally the day it was released! I was working in a record store at the time. We all took turns playing stuff on the stereo and when it was my turn that day, i decided to try something new from the box of promo cd's that had arrived that day. So, I was looking thru the cds when I came across "620 W Surf" and thought the cover looked interesting, just a guy and a guitar, so I put it on the stereo and I was so completely blown away by how amazing it was that I've been a fan ever since.

Brian said: My favorite McD album is the self-titled record. To me, this is Michael’s ‘Thriller’. Every song on this record is great.

Matt said: It's hard to pick a favorite Michael McDermott album but if I was forced to do just that I would have to go with Gethsemane. Gethsemane was the first MM album I actually bought (I borrowed 620 W. Surf from my dad and never gave it back) which probably has something to do with it. It's such a strong disc from track 1 to 13, full of rockers, ballads, etc. As usual the lyrics are top notch (what's new there) and the intro to Whiskey And Water is very moving. I remember when Michael released this disc and he did a live set broadcast on WXRT. While performing Leave It Up To The Angles he broke into the first verse of Baba O'Riley by The Who, another favorite artist of mine. It was just an awesome moment, very powerful, and the two songs fit together perfectly. I have it on tape somewhere in my extensive MM collection. Besides, how can you go wrong with an album that has Klem on bass?

Ramon said: My favourite album is "620W.Surf", the Michael's debut. I love all his albums and it's a difficult choice, but I discovered Michael in 1991 with this record. I still remember what I felt when I heard the first notes of "Wall I must climb" (I guess some similar when hearing Springsteen's Born to run). I think it's a "genius first masterpiece", and only the very good ones can begin with this kind of work. Eclectic and pure, Michael shows all his sensibility that will after confirm in following albums. In one sentence: this work returns to me the faith in rock'n'roll. Michael, please, don't change never!!

We also got some notes from people that we'd like to pass along here:

Bob said said: I gotta say the new CD "Ashes" is awesome. Michael just gets better and better, and the new band adds a whole new twist to what he does, they are a great compliment to Michael's music. I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall when the band members first listened to Michael's stuff,lol. My opinion Michael is no doubt the best lyricist I've ever come across, there's something very magical that happens when you get great words in the right order and then great music behind it, it doesn't happen often, there are many great poets lost because of the crap that accompanies their words, Michael however, is Gifted, he does it over and over and over, its fucking amazing! sorry for the "F" word,lol but it excites me. even in the simplest lines he manages to say sooo much "you can't change where it is you come from baby...... but you can change where your going to" now why the hell didn't I ever think of that?? lol. and this is the kind of thing Michael does over and over, he makes me think.... Damn! I wish I would have written that! lol. short and simple, Michael's stuff moves me. And I thank God I stumbled upon him, I can often be heard by my neighbors yelling THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN ABOUT!!!!!! LOL. thanks for letting me bend your ear and thanks for doing a great Job On Michael's behalf! And you guys do do an awesome job!

Angela said: Please pass along my sincere congratulations to Michael for a brilliant performance at the XPN Singer/Songwriter weekend on Saturday. He rocked! When he sang "Everything I Got," he just killed it. I work in the business, am an XPN member, and I was so impressed with his sincerity and passion, I had to write ya a note. :) Tell him thanks for a great musical memory to add to my collection!

Henrik said: I have to say that I am looking forward to check my mail nowdays. I have been reciving this newsletter since may and i really enjoy reading it! Keep up the good work and I try my best to tell everybody I know here in Sweden about MMcD and his music. I finally got my brother on the train...just 9 millions left..!

This month, I want to give extra big thanks to Marshal who was kind enough to send me the "Summer Days"/"Bells" 45 singles for the contest prizes!! Yes, you read that right -- prizeS. One was given away via last month's contest, and one I'm saving for a future issue. So it you didn't win it this time and REALLY want it, keep your eyes peeled on "You Gotta Be In It To Win It!" for your next chance soon! Marshal, YOU ROCK!

Dates are full band
unless otherwise noted.

8/13/2004 : Lincolnshire, IL
VENUE: Cubby Bear North

8/14/2004 : Orland Park, IL
VENUE: St. Michael's Summerfest

8/21/2004 : Chicago, IL
VENUE: Beverly Arts Center
(solo acoustic)

8/28/2004 : Chicago, IL
VENUE: Rock for Reading Benefit, New City YMCA Grounds

9/6/2004 : Naperville, IL
VENUE: Last Fling
(opening for 10,000 Maniacs)

9/10/2004 : Aurora, IL
VENUE: Paramount Theatre

9/18/2004 : Bryn Mawr, PA
VENUE: The Point
(two shows)

2/6/2005 : Valparaiso, IN
VENUE: Chicago Street Theatre

7/22/2004 : Chicago Field Museum, Chicago, IL
(full band show)
Arm Yourself
Perfectly Imperfect
Dance With Me
Hellfire in the Holyland
Hold Back a River
Can't Sleep Tonight (solo, guitar)
A Wall I Must Climb
Baby I
Something Greater
Junkie Girl
Everything I Got
Leave it Up to the Angels
20 Miles South of Nowhere

Sheila's question: Michael, have you ever considered releasing a video of a live show?
Michael's answer: I have. The only problem is getting good footage is one challenge, but getting good sound and synching the two is a real challenge. I'm always a bit skittish about putting out live audio stuff. We have attempted synching them and it ends up looking like a bad Japanese overdubbed Godzilla movie. Pretty funny, but not exactly what I'm going for. So at the heart of it... it comes down to having some money.

S. Jo's question: I want to say I enjoy your music very much. When getting my first CD I really had no clue in the world what I was getting only to find that your music is AWSOME!! My question is when writing your music is there a means of focusing on any specific idea that comes your way? Do your songs have any connection to what life has been for you?
Michael's answer: I usually don't try and force anything. I usually don't even sit down to write anything. It's about staying out of the way of things, letting them create themselves. Obviously, you need to prod it in certain directions or edit things you find useless or superfluous. The songs have complete connection with my life... sometimes a painful connection, other times a cathartic connection... and rarely a delightful connection. But they are all intertwined.

Jon submitted the following word association for Michael to complete. Jon's words are on the left and Michael's associations follow them:
1. the Stage... my church
2. Drugs... a beautiful reminder of pain
3. God... a familiar stranger
4. Mom and Dad... light and love
5. Rap... intrigue
6. Springsteen... liberation
7. Dominique... oceans
8. Pawn Shop... rain on Broadway
9. Death... fear
10. Fame....lust
11. Hero... Joseph Cambell
12. Radio... hope
13. O.J... A.C.

Mike's question: How old were you when you got your first guitar and who gave it to you? Also, have you ever taken guitar or piano lessons or are you self-taught?
Michael's answer: My folks bought me one or my brother did. I was in 8th grade...a black cortez... I took a finger picking class at the Old Town School of Folk Music with a guy named Mark Dvorak....but that's about it...trial and error....took some theory classes in high school...that helped.

Here's how "Ask Michael" works: you send your question(s) to us, and we'll print his answers in an upcoming issue. It's as simple as that. Please send your questions to: ASK MICHAEL. Ask away!

This newsletter is special because of submitted material from the fans!! Please continue to submit anything you'd like to share. If we have the space that month, we'll print it (or save it for a future issue)! Please send everything to: NEWSLETTER SUBMISSIONS.

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