An exclusive 67 Music interview by Jamie Lynn Wright
Meet Kevin McCormack, a 26 year old native of Ireland, who is making quite the splash in the Pacific NW Irish music scene. His high energy, upbeat and boisterous performance style gives way to a quiet, gentle and surprisingly humble persona. An Irishman through and through, he slowly sips a cup of tea as we begin to talk.
When asked about his distinct energetic performance style, Kevin states, “People tell me that a lot, something I’m starting to appreciate. You can take music seriously, but Irish music is fun and you can enjoy it.”
After playing drums for various rock bands in and around Dublin, Kevin moved stateside to New York in 2008 to pursue his music career full time. Little did he know that it was going to be the other side of the country where he would finally get his big break. “I got into the Irish folk stuff from my Dad. I started playing music when I was about 10 or 11,” Kevin states. With early influences of the likes of The Clancy Brothers, Luke Kelly, and even a little Woody Guthrie, it’s easy to tell that Kevin has a passion for the traditional and story-telling style. “I’m a real traditionalist. It’s all about getting across the message of the song,” Kevin says. Working in a bar in Brooklyn, his boss heard him humming a tune and offered him a gig. Fast forward to 2011 and Kevin set off on a cross country American tour that landed him in Ocean Shores, WA for the Irish Music Festival last Fall. “The best gigs are the ones you feed off of and everyone’s having a grand time. At Ocean Shores, people are there to hear the music,” Kevin says. It was one of the best gigs he’s played.
It was there he met Jenna Garvey-O’Brien, the owner of The Terrible Beauty Pubs in Renton and West Seattle, WA. Quickly taken with Kevin’s musicianship and personality, he was offered several gigs there and thus began his nearly six nights a week gigging in and around Seattle. Kevin now is a regular on the schedule at The Terrible Beauty in both West Seattle and Renton, as well as playing weekly in Kell’s Irish Pub in downtown Seattle. In true musician fashion, Kevin hasn’t had a proper day off in over two weeks and is often gigging twice a day.
As busy as Kevin is though, he has managed to find time to begin recording his own album in Seattle. With two demo albums under his belt, this is Kevin’s first real album. Due to be released in June, “An Immigrant’s Letter” promises to be a mixture of the traditional Irish flair that Kevin is known for, such as, “Spancil Hill”, “Rocky Road To Dublin”, “Leaving Of Liverpool” and “From Clare To Here”, but what promises to be a real treat are the self-penned songs that are to accompany those traditional tracks. “People seem to be really receptive to the idea of original material,” Kevin adds, “This is where I am. This is a load of songs about me being Irish and being a folk singer in America. I’m excited about it. Me doing a folk album, a 26 year old guy from this generation, will speak to some people. Hopefully, I’ll have something decent to say at the end of it.” Hooking up with many local talents such as, Liam Gallagher (who so graciously is letting Kevin record his album in his studio) lending his talents on guitar and mandolin. Acclaimed fiddler from Washington DC, Stevie Morris, a string quartet, some uilleann pipes from the Seattle-based Carrigaline Celtic Band, and perhaps maybe a few lads from the Stout Pounders. “There seems to be a great Celtic music scene here I didn’t know about,” Kevin states. “An Immigrant’s Letter” promises to be a fun-filled album with a full sound. Be sure to watch for it’s release in June. It will be available at all of Kevin’s live gigs, as well as CD Baby and on his website as well.
As for the future, Kevin will be touring the Midwest in mid-late summer as a supporting act, as well as touring up and down the west coast promoting his album, “An Immigrant’s Letter”. For now you can catch him nearly any given night either at The Terrible Beauty in Renton or West Seattle, or playing alongside Liam Gallagher at Kell’s Downtown Seattle. Kevin’s website is always up to date with his most current gig schedule, so be sure to check it out. He puts on one heck of a show, and you’re sure to have a memorable time.
“Looking back on the last few months for all intents and purposes, I should be back in New York behind a bar somewhere. I’m here and happy with the way things are going.” No matter where Kevin ends up, he says he’ll always have a base here in the Pacific Northwest.
Visit Kevin’s website at http://www.kevinmccormackmusic.com/fr_home.cfm