JohnMcDermott will play the Sid Williams Theatre Sunday.

JohnMcDermott will play the Sid Williams Theatre Sunday.

McDermott is Traditionally Yours

Sunday, April 17, Sid Williams Theatre

By Rachel Stern

Black Press

Songs tell stories.

They can create an emotional moment. Evoke a memory. Or bring people together.

“I believe songs are written for a reason,” said Scottish-Canadian tenor John McDermott.

Songs have been a part of McDermott’s life since childhood. Sharing songs with others has created its own set of stories and memories.

McDermott remembers as a child when his family immigrated to Canada to Willdowdale, Ont., in 1965. One of the first things his father, Peter, did is go down one side of the street and knock on everyone’s door, introduce himself, and invite his neighbours over for a singalong. Maybe five people showed up the first night. Then the next week he introduced himself to the other side of the street and invited them to the house.

“We got to know our neighbours … this crazy family of 12 kids,” said McDermott.

It became a weekly event and soon almost everyone along the street attended.

“Everybody had their own song,” said McDermott. “My song was always Danny Boy and my brother’s was The Green Fields of France.

McDermott said his music career developed through a series of collisions.

“I had no intention of getting into the business,” he said. “I was 38 when I started.”

He was working in the circulation department of Toronto Sun, but made the decision to take a chance.

“I took a leave of absence in case I fell flat on my face,” he said.

At first he toured as the opening act for The Chieftains. Then in 1993 he started touring with his own band. McDermott realized he made the right decision when he performed to a full house at the Rebecca Cohn Theatre in Halifax. The crowd was so “thrilled” and determined for an encore that the concert continued for four hours.

“Once I got a taste of it I realized it was something I could do and wanted to do,” said McDermott.

Since that time, McDermott has become an internationally recognized recording artist with multiple Juno nominations and platinum, double-platinum and triple-platinum albums. The only musical training McDermott had was at St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto. He attended the school for two years.

He’s known for his commitment to veterans and for the past few years has been raising money to help expand the palliative care unit at the Veterans Centre at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. McDermott’s father, who was a veteran, told McDermott a year before he died he needed to give back.

“You have to promise me to give back to veterans because the veterans gave us this great country,” said McDermott about his father’s request.

His latest album is Raised on Songs and Stories (Part One). Portions of the song Auld Lang Syne is woven throughout the album. McDermott said it is something he always wanted to do on an album, have the tracks connected by an instrumental piece. The album features songs such as Leezie Lindsay, Yesterday’s People and Flower of Scotland.

The history of each song is explained in a special section on the album cover. The album is one of a pair McDermott is working on. The first is dedicated to Scottish songs and the second will feature traditional Irish songs. Instead of using a song to tie the album together McDermott said there will be people who will tell a story about the song to introduce it.

McDermott performs at the Sid Williams Theatre, Sunday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. as part of his Traditionally Yours tour.

Tickets are $47.50 and are available by calling 250-338-2430 ext 1. or visiting


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man was sentenced to more than a year in jail for a late-night robbery in Courtenay last April. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Late-night Courtenay robbery results in 500-plus days in jail

Heatley’s sentence also includes probation, DNA order, firearms ban

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo
Comox-Strathcona board ponders relationship with Island Health

“We have to stand together … to get our share of the health budget.”

The CVCDA Accessibility Project is creating safer ramps at the Courtenay facility. Photo supplied
Accessibility project underway at Comox Valley Child Development Association

Over the past month, you may have noticed some construction underway behind… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read