Photo Credit: Shefik
Over the last 40 years, Chuck McDermott has left his musical mark on audiences on both coasts of the United States. After a restless two years at Yale University, McDermott arrived in Boston and formed an influential country group, Chuck McDermott and Wheatstraw, which during the better part of that decade won over audiences and music critics with strong original songwriting and exciting live performances.
McDermott's two albums with Wheatstraw, "Last Straw" and "Follow the Music", drew critical praise from Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, The New York Times, Billboard, Variety, and others, and broadened McDermott's reach beyond the Boston area. The late 70s found McDermott touring from Montreal to New Orleans, headlining venues like New York's Lone Star Café and opening for major rock and country acts. In recognition of those years, Chuck was a 2015 inductee into the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame.
Later, McDermott moved to Los Angeles and formed the more rock-oriented Chuck McDermott Band. The group quickly moved up in the crowded Los Angeles music scene, headlining at the famous Palomino Club and attracting major label interest. Early upon his arrival in Los Angeles, McDermott met John Stewart and began a friendship and musical collaboration that continued throughout Stewart's life. Their close musical rapport became evident to Stewart fans on his recording, "Blondes", which featured McDermott's vocal, guitar, and production work.
Strengthened by their years of touring as an acoustic duo, their collaboration continued on Trancas, The Last Campaign, and Punch the Big Guy. Since Stewart's passing in 2008, McDermott has been a mainstay in the John Stewart Band, the collective of Stewart's former sidemen, who perform Stewart's music and keep his musical legacy alive and vibrant. In 1984, McDermott released the album "The Turning of the Wheel" on the United Kingdom based Sunstorm Records, a collection of evocative original songs that embody the blend of subject matter and instrumentation that would be considered "Americana before Americana was cool". Shortly after that, McDermott's career took a turn away from the full-time pursuit of music, but he has not been idle.
Over the last few decades, McDermott has devoted himself to energy and environmental policy issues, working in government, the private sector, and finance, watchful for the world his three children are inheriting. Through those years, he never really set down either his pen or his guitar.
McDermott's attention has now turned back to his music, and he is getting ready to release "Gin & Rosewater", his first record in many years. His current songs show his empathetic eye for his fellow man and a sober — sometimes irreverent, sometimes sardonic — take on the world that dances around him.
Last Updated: July 7, 2020