Pete McDonald
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Pete McDonald

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"Cleveland Free Times: Pete McDonald: Here and Gone"

Week of November 9-15, 2005

Free from the hustle and bustle of city life, this 26-year-old Chardon native embodies old-fashioned American folk music on his second full-length CD. A former Montessori teacher, McDonald is currently focusing on his singing and songwriting. This devotion is visible in his clever and beautifully crafted lyrics. “Honey, I get so bruised/Baby, I’m wearing the blues,” he sings in “Wearing the Blues.” The subject matter on the 14 tracks of Here and Gone deals with family life, women, the American landscape and traveling. McDonald’s voice presents an uncanny hybrid of two of his influences, Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen. While the themes are ones we’ve all heard before at the county fair, it’s his creative songwriting that will strike a chord with any music lover.

Pete Mihalek

Pete McDonald performs with Joe Rohan at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd. 216.383.1124). Tickets: $5
- Cleveland Free Times

"Cleveland Scene: Pete McDonald: Here and Gone"

If the long drive to the Kent State Folk Festival is too much, Collinwood has top-notch folk on display this weekend, when singer-songwriter Pete McDonald will release the immaculate Here and Gone. On his second album, the Chardon-based folk rocker sings about the difficulty of being true to yourself when you still haven’t found out who you are. Thankfully, he has a good support system in his friends.

Half of the songs here are co-written by singer-novelist Elise Huneke Stone, who contributes understated backing vocals to the wistful “Your Own Way.” In tunes like “Wearing the Blues,” Dylan is a pronounced influence on McDonald’s phrasing, as the singer-guitarist breaks out a harmonica between heavy-hearted spurts of wordplay: “I’m strung out on your strings and stronger stuff/And your tenderness just makes you tough/Oh honey, I get so bruised/Baby, I’m wearing the blues.” And the blues look good on him.

D.X. Ferris

Pete McDonald CD-release party. Sunday, November 13, at the Beachland Tavern
- Cleveland Scene: Regional Beat


Here and Gone - Released November 2005
After the Rockies - Released June 2003

Both available at CDBABY.COM/all/petemcdonald



In the fall of 2004, Pete McDonald left a brief career as a Montessori schoolteacher to pursue his long-time ambitions and dreams of being a singer-songwriter. Now 27 years old, he’s been performing for over a year at notable Cleveland, OH venues such as The Beachland Ballroom, and last winter, with one album under his belt, he went into the studio to record Here and Gone, his second full-length self-released album. With the independent release of Here and Gone in November of 2005, Pete is making a name for himself in the Cleveland music scene. The Cleveland Scene Magazine called Here and Gone “immaculate” and the Cleveland Free Times said that Pete’s “creative song-writing will strike a chord with any music lover.” Pete was recently nominated as Best Male Singer-Songwriter for the 2006 Cleveland Free Times Music Awards. Here and Gone has the potential to be Pete McDonald’s break-through album.

The songs on Here and Gone sound like a folk-rock fusion between Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young spiced up with elements of Dylan and more contemporary singer-songwriters like Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter. Pete’s songwriting reflects a deep understanding of the great songwriters of our times and a background of Appalachian music, family, farming, work, relationships, and travel. In the up-tempo rocker "On the Radio," Pete packs in lyrics like early Springsteen, painting a picture of the Utah landscape in the first verse and then moving on to cover themes ranging from environmentalism to coming to terms with the pains and confusion of childhood. In Evangeline, a haunting tale about an unusual death, Pete transports the listener to the central plains of America, simultaneously capturing the landscape, farming, family life, depression, love, and loss with vivid imagery and a bare bones instrumental arrangement.

In addition to his own material, Pete teamed up with friend and novelist Elise Huneke Stone (who also wrote for Pete’s first album) to co-write six of the fourteen songs for the new release Here and Gone. Elise brings an edgy poetic hand to songs like "Can’t Be True" and "American Dream," a tale evoking the Great Depression, but modern at the same time. As a novelist, Elise applies her understanding of character and voice to help create songs that are a blend of her life experiences and Pete’s life experiences, but rendered in such a way that the emotional truths resonate with Pete as the singer. In “Wearing the Blues,” Elise writes gutsy lyrics that cut right to the core of pain and confusion, and Pete’s arrangement and lead vocals take us on that intense emotional ride.

The production of Here and Gone varies from simple acoustic performances to full band rockers that include bass, drums, acoustic and electric guitars, organ, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin, and piano. The music is simple, but it’s simple in the best kind of way. In an ocean of folk-fluff and songwriters trying to fit too many chords and meandering melodies into their songs, Pete’s songwriting returns to simple chord progressions and memorable melodies with raw lyrical images that cover a wide variety of themes. Some songs are slow, quiet, and dramatic and other songs simply rock. It is clear that Pete is part of the new generation of intelligent and roots-oriented songwriters who borrow elements from the great songwriters of the 20th century and the vast array of music produced over the last 25 years in order to produce an original sound that they can call their own. Here and Gone was recorded in various northeast Ohio studios, but the bulk of the recording and mixing was done at Harvest Studio in Streetsboro, OH, a beautiful rustic studio built in an old barn.

Pete McDonald is currently promoting the new album Here and Gone with solo and full band performances in and around the Cleveland area, and he plans to expand his touring in 2006. During full band performances, Pete and the band move nimbly from spare and haunting ballads to straightforward rock n’ roll. Full instrumentation includes drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and vocals. When Pete performs solo, he accompanies himself with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar. Fans often leave humming his catchy tunes or singing some of the lyrics they picked up during the performance.

As for some history, Pete grew up on a farm in Chardon, OH, a small town east of Cleveland, and he’s been writing songs since he first picked up the guitar at age 16. He comes from a family of musicians and a life of music. He started out playing at open mics and participating in family old-time jams. He was the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for a rock band while he attended The College of Wooster, graduating magna cum laude with an honors degree in biology in 2001. He played at pub sessions in Aberdeen, Scotland during a semester abroad, and he’s tried his hand at busking on the streets of Ireland. After graduating from