Garth Michael McDermott
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Garth Michael McDermott

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Intellectually complex pop songs with simple, inviting arrangements." - CMJ New Music Report


"...melodic, song-based pop rock...its wall-of-sound arrangements and Garth McDermott's wonderfully tough vocals are this group's selling points." - Newsday


"...pop as seen thru a fun-house mirror...not quite exactly as expected and changing constantly."
- Mixx Magazine


"...great songs both lyrically and musically"
- Musicians' Exchange


"One of Long Island's finer pop/rock outfits. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Garth McDermott has a razor sharp ear for melody and harmony."
- Long Island Voice


Every once in a while, an artist comes along and manages to get his fingers on the harp strings of your soul, striking a chord that echoes through every fiber of your being. Garth Michael McDermott is one of those artists. Oddly, it's hard to pinpoint his sound. While he sounds a bit like Rufus Wainwright crossed with Julian Lennon, there is a quality to his music that is unique; it's something you feel more than hear. From the haunting strains of "Intro" which asks the eternal question "Ever wonder why sometimes?" to the mysterious "Miniature Mistakes" which asserts " ... aren't they miniature mistakes when you can shake the marks they make?", McDermott leads us on an interesting self-discovery tour using his own emotional milestones as guideposts.

The music isn't innovative, just clean, soft pop rock with solid vocals and harmonies, straight-ahead rhythm tracks and no frills; it's the way McDermott wears his heart on his sleeve that hooks you. It's not surprising that his one-page characterizes his lyrics as " ... tales of emotional struggles and internal conflicts ... laced with a sense of optimism." These songs are more vignettes of feelings rather than messages, and it's this emotional undercurrent that runs through every cut. It's interesting the way this man's struggles are posed as questions. As you listen, you find yourself pondering over them:

"Kicking Up The Dirt" asks "So, then who's going to falter first?"

"Just Like Thunder" asks "Is every moment you rely on ... just a part of a piece of a thought that's escaping?"

"Miniature Mistakes" asks "Coincidence or accident?"

Without question, the best cut is "Up From Nothing" (though the title really should be "Have Me Your Way" -- why is it that some pop titles are vague and often not the real hook? But, hey, that's another question to ponder ... ). Bleeding emotion and a deep-cutting killer lyric makes this one my pick hit:

3 years in amazement of wonderful lies
As the heart on your sleeve bleeds dry
When I dented your armor, did it feel like this?
Like roaring open canyons that started up from nothing ...
Come to my place, color my world
Have me your way ...

But the most profound thing McDermott says, something everyone can identify with, is contained in these lines from

"Records To Your Rivals":
If you're wounded, you haven't even looked yet
If you're not wounded, you haven't even lived yet ...

If these ten tracks, which include an acoustic finale of "Kicking Up The Dirt," don't move you, you're already dead. - Kenny Hart

"In The Spotlight"

Recent Portland transplant (via NYC) McDermott takes us on his tales of woe and is able to transform them into fantastic 3-minute pop nuggets with a roots bent. I remember when Ryan Adams used to make music this good, but that was back in the 1990's. "Just Like Thunder" is an emotional heavyweight, while the lovely piano in "Up From Nothing" soften things up, if just a bit. Very well done, sir.

Tim Hinely - Dagger Magazine / In The Spotlight (Jul 1, 2006)
- Dagger Magazine


Building The Bricks (Fall/2007) - w/The Fingerprints
Highways and Ghosts (2006)
a portrait of the artist as an american lad (2005)
go get here (2004)
American Lad (2001)

Highlights from "Highways and Ghosts"

*3 songs featured on major TV network shows: "What About Brian” (ABC), “How I Met Your Mother" (CBS) and "The Wedding Bells" (FOX) select “Starting To Say Yes,” “Records To Your Rivals,” and “Kicking Up The Dirt,” respectively.

*Clothing retailer Martin + Osa (division of American Eagle) selects 4 songs (“Just Like Thunder,” “Kicking Up The Dirt,” “Records To Your Rivals,” “When I Took The Bait”) for placement in their lifestyle movie and accompanying compilation CD

*Top Seller at CD Baby upon its release

*Top 10 May Releases in Dagger Magazine

*Mountain Stage New Song Contest awards "Kicking Up The Dirt" honorable mention.

*Featured on KINK (Portland, OR) Local Music Spotlight

*Selected a performer at KINK’s Noon Tunes Concert Series at Pioneer Square (Portland, OR) sponsored by Volkswagen.

*Featured on WMUA's "Acoustic Cafe" 91.1FM (Amherst, MA)

*Featured artist and interview on Michael Jonzun's "Audition Radio" (Daytona, FL)

*Featured on Preying Lizard Music's Soft Rock Indie Showcase

*Featured on Lost Cat Records' Great American Music Hour

*Internet Records Contest Winner: "When I Took The Bait" included on Internet Records compilation released May 2006.



After spending his entire life on the east coast and writing songs on piano and guitar beginning at age 12, former New York City-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Garth Michael McDermott spent 4 years in Portland, Oregon (2004-2008), where he released his critically acclaimed record, "Highways and Ghosts, " - an effort that leaned away from the power-pop tendencies of Garth’s past work with his band, American Lad, (called “one of Long Island’s best pop/rock outfits” by The Voice) - toward a more rootsy and personally reflective approach, which Garth developed upon moving to Portland.

"Highways and Ghosts" quickly became a best seller on CD Baby (upon its release) and went on to have half of its songs featured on major network television shows (ABC, CBS, FOX) and lifestyle movies, which allowed Garth to spend some time on the road - traveling on both coasts and selling CDs out of his car.

"To me, Highways and Ghosts is a testament to the strength of the dynamic human spirit. The idea that no matter what stage in life we’re in, there are always circumstances that allow us to begin again. Circumstances where we get the opportunity to choose what aspects of ourselves we're going to bring forward with us, and what we've elected to leave behind. What version of myself am I going to be now? How have I grown? What have I learned? How am I different? How am I perceived by others? It's about attempting to live life consciously and trying to see if we're capable of realizing and embracing the most important aspects of our lives as they're happening. The idea of "scalable wisdom" - the notion that - hey, this might not be exactly how we planned it, but we're going to live with the choices we've made and carve out a new path. But mostly, I think it suggests the one main idea that – no matter what path or stage – life is always a continuous series of highways and ghosts. "

Upon arriving in Nashville, Garth has been working on putting out a new record of tracks he recorded with the Portland band, The Fingerprints (See "Wish You Well," "You Always Said" and "Sorry, Your Majesty in the MUSIC section of this site), as well as finishing a new nashville-based solo record of songs penned since arriving in Music City.

This summer, Garth has teamed up with Mad Donna's in East Nashville (1313 Woodland St.) and is the brainchild behind their "Intimate Concert Series" that happens each Wednesday evening, from 7-9pm. Garth hosts and books the entire event - assembling a diverse array of writers in the most intimate of settings every week.

"From the beginning, the goal has always been to continue to preserve a very intimate setting where people are actually coming to hear the songs - not talking in the background - and where Mad Donna's becomes THE place to showcase songwriters and up and coming new artists. I usually make an announcement before the show - and it is on all of our literature - that this a 'listening room' - where the audience should be respectful of the performers - (going so far as putting their cell phones on vibrate) while they listen to the writers perform their songs. We also take dinner and seating reservations so people can reserve a night of good food and music. And the food is amazing! (Thanks Joyce!). We are trying to create a intimate "concert" environment. Not an open-mic - or a writers night where you come, play your 15 minutes, and then sit in the back of the room and talk to your friends. We are all in this together - trying to create an event - an intimate gathering of amazing music and performances.

We also film the event every week and can make individual DVDs for the artists who perform each week. We all sit in a circle with the audience all around us, and take turns playing songs for 2 hours straight. Much like the Bluebird. But unlike the Bluebird, you can actually hang out here afterwards and network with fellow artists, writers and fans. We have drink specials for another hour after the show and always hang around and chat, connect with one another and talk about music. It's been quite amazing, actually!"

For more information about Mad Donna's Writer's Night and Intimate Concert Series, please visit: