Paul McDermand is one of the lucky ones. He has been able to make a career as a musician a go.
The professional percussionist hasn’t simply survived, he has thrived. McDermand has even taken to the stage with some greats. A small sampling includes Johnny Cash, Natalie Cole, the Moody Blues, Liberace, Tony Bennett and The Temptations. But after playing as a freelance musician for decades, he decided to try something different.
“I bought the steel drum about 20 years ago. I figured that it was a percussion instrument ... so I should be able to figure it out,” he said.
That he did and with little difficulty. Before long, he had mastered the instrument and decided it was time to incorporate it into a show of his own. But McDermand wasn’t content to do it in just the traditional way.
“It’s, as you know, an instrument from the West Indies played in places like Trinidad and Tobago. But we wanted to do something a little differently. We do play some of the traditional music and some from south of the border. But we can really take it anywhere,” he said. “I always say the audience should expect the unexpected. We like to play some beautiful but unexpected melodies. They might be songs the audience has heard before ... but they’ve never heard them like this.”
That is what McDermand and his band will bring when they take to the stage at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at Glynn Academy in Brunswick. The performance will be the first of several presented by Golden Isles Live!, the community concert series which has operated locally for the past 76 years. Lorene Reid, president of Golden Isles Live!, said this year will continue the tradition of offering family-friendly entertainment. The goal, she said, is to further the appreciation of various musical genres.
“We hope to occasionally offer concerts that folks wouldn’t generally attend to encourage an introduction of something new. An example of this was Billy Dean, country music singer/songwriter that was very different from the classical and big band type entertainment that we generally hosted. Season members walked out of that concert thanking us for the variety and they thoroughly enjoyed his music and storytelling,” she said.
In addition to McDermand, other performers will include ABBAFAB, an Abba tribute band, on Oct. 27; The Nelons, a Christmas concert, Dec. 8; Tony Pace, a singer-comedian, Feb. 24; and the 3 Redneck Tenors on April 28. Reid feels the variety offers audiences a chance to have a multitude of musical experiences.
“We try to choose a variety of entertainers that are not similar to what will be offered in our community by other organizations. We also choose entertainers that will be excellent Student Outreach performances. We have at least two student concerts each year that bring a concert experience to elementary to high school students. The students learn concert manners, get exposure to world class entertainment and our goal is to leave a positive lasting impression and lead some students to playing an instrument,” she said.
Selecting the acts was no small task. Reid said members of Golden Isles Live travel to Nashville to sample talent for the show’s lineup.
“It is difficult to choose five performers out of the 28 shows we see in Nashville each year. Finding a balance of performers and choosing talent that everyone will enjoy is a daunting task,” she said.
Once the committee makes its choices, the Nashville agency will coordinate dates with the selected artists.
“Then we need to be sure our venues are available on the dates we have chosen. It’s a fair amount of juggling before coming up with a season line-up,” Reid said.
“This year’s performers offer a variety of fun and great music. They are all world class talent, having traveled the world and won awards for their music. The talent is excellent, the performances will have you singing, dancing or laughing. Tony Pace and The Three Red Neck Tenors will make us laugh, Paul McDermand, ABBA and The Nelons will make us sing along or just enjoy the music.”