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  • When Paul McDermand takes the stage at Severna Park High School on September 30, attendees of all ages can expect to be entertained.
    Photo courtesy of Live On Stage
    When Paul McDermand takes the stage at Severna Park High School on September 30, attendees of all ages can expect to be entertained.

Paul McDermand To Bring Music “From The Mainland To The Islands”

Gracie Fairfax
Gracie Fairfax's picture
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September 6, 2017

When two members from the Anne Arundel Community Concert Association visited Nashville to choose artists for the upcoming concert season, instrumentalist Paul McDermand and his band made an impression.

“We really liked their sound and how they performed onstage,” said AACCA Executive Director Gale Gillespie.

McDermand and his band will kick off the 2017-2018 season on September 30 at 7:30pm at Severna Park High School with their show “Exotic Instruments from the Mainland to the Islands.” Primarily featuring steel drums and the marimba, their performance will now include a vibraphone — a more jazz-oriented instrument that will add another element for those who have seen McDermand’s show before. While audience members may expect to hear island sounds, the range of music won’t stop there.

“So, what I wanted to sort of capture with that was the islands will certainly be the natural connection they’ll make with the steel drums,” McDermand said. “But when we venture onto the mainland, that’s when we’ll begin to cover the jazz and some of the pop numbers and maybe even a country tune or two – just the styles that represent the backbone of familiar popular music.”

An accomplished musician, McDermand has played as a backup musician for a long list of iconic musicians including Tony Bennett, Johnny Cash, The Temptations, Ray Charles, Liberace, The Moody Blues and more. His own backup band members have had similar experience with well-known musicians – his bass player is also Andrew Lloyd Webber’s bass player.

Once McDermand stopped freelancing and touring with renowned artists as a percussion specialist, he sought to find his own niche as an artist. He found that people generally responded positively to steel drums and the marimba.

“The steel drums put everyone’s toes in the sand and sends them to that really nice place that lacks a time clock or any structured life,” he said, “and the marimba kind of has that same sort of effect on people, so it was easy for me to kind of focus on those instruments and then build arrangements around them.”

All musicians McDermand has played with have brought their own influence into his own music and overall show. Liberace taught him about showmanship, while Tony Bennett imparted his understated but powerful style of music. Through performing with renowned musicians covering a range of genres, he put himself in a place where he could accept any opportunity and deliver an excellent performance. Regardless of genre, these artists all taught him about the importance of connecting with his audience, which will be seen at his performance on September 30.

“The quicker I can make it personal and draw them in and make that room shrink down to where we just feel we’re sitting across the table from one another … the more effectively I can connect with them,” McDermand added.

Beyond connecting with his listeners, McDermand adjusts the direction of his performance based on his audience as he tries to leave them in a better place than he found them. He might consider the age of people in the crowd and what sounds they respond particularly well to as he and his band play. At his Severna Park High School concert, there will be no setlist or exact plan for the show, so attendees can expect to be delighted with the unexpected.

Tickets will be available at the door for $25 for adults and $5 for children. For those interested in attending multiple AACCA shows, a season membership is available for $55 per adult, $10 per student, $120 per family with two parents and $65 per family with one parent. Doors open a half-hour before the performance starts.

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