Pete McDonald

Pete McDonald


Pete sounds like a folk-rock fusion between Springsteen and Neil Young spiced up with elements of Dylan and more recently famous songwriters like Ryan Adams and Josh Ritter. Pete's songwriting stands out because it is intelligent and creative with fresh lyrical imagery and edgy memorable melodies.


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


Wearing the Blues

Written By: Pete McDonald and Elise Huneke Stone

Come and find me in the lost and found
Meet me on the merry go round
I’m falling down without your sound
Oh honey I’m so confused
Baby I’m wearing the blues

I’m strung out on your strings and stronger stuff
Too much is never quite enough
Your tenderness, it just makes you tough
And honey I get so bruised
Baby I’m wearing the blues

It’s all give and take; it’s back and forth
My south winds up against your north
And it’s priceless, babe, for what it’s worth
And honey I can’t refuse
Baby I’m wearing the blues

There’s a hundred other places to be
Than your alternate reality
With our western hospitality
Oh honey how can I choose?
Baby I’m wearing the blues

I keep looking for answers on the faded page
With the poets of ecstasy, poets of rage
A crossover kid from another age
Oh honey I’m second hand news
Baby I’m wearing the blues

On the Radio

Written By: Pete McDonald

Well I woke up with the memory of the sun setting orange
On the Utah canyons and the land so worn
From the blowing winds that were bringing in the storm
On the back of Apollo, it was a summer so warm

Yeah and we drove through that mad scene
The motorcycle riders passed us like a surreal dream
They were tall and lean with leather all around
And skeleton faces, oh they looked so mean

They were trying to beat the rain
We were trying to drive away the pain
Holding in our laughter trying to hold hands together
But oh, oh, oh, oh, things just weren’t the same

And in those times, you know, there was nothing decent of the radio
So we braced our minds for how far we had to go
And back then, you see, nothing beautiful could last for me
But hear my now, I’m trying to break free

Well I wound up back home in the summer’s stare
It was the same small town, but it felt like nowhere
Guess every country boy’s got that load to bear
Like it’s piled on your soul and in the clothes you wear

And I was sick of cul de sacs with screwed up names
For the life they destroy and the land they change
Well there’s far too much to try to rearrange
I was thinking these times just seem so strange

And you were gone to the concrete lands
With those urban people that I wanna understand
And I was pining for you and the canyon sand
So I tried to block it out with a rock n’ roll band

Cause it was time, you know, to try to put something decent on the radio
To reach out to you and let you know
That we could move along listening to the sweet sounds of a Midwest song
That makes you want to stay up until the dawn

And just over there where the sun used to be
In the silhouettes of locust trees
A child sleeps and as the night has it’s way
We leave the youthful pains of yesterday

Now I’m driving away from those walls of pain
And the sun dances through a quiet rain
Well it’s a shame the way sometimes life’s such a strain
But my hearts still pumping blood through my veins

And the wind is a like a lover’s hand
And the rocks still erode into sand
And our feet still fall upon this land
With or without a conscious plan

And in these times, you know, there ain’t nothing decent on the radio
So we brace our minds for how far we’ve gotta go
And back then you see nothing beautiful could last for me
But hear me now I’m trying to break free


Written By: Pete McDonald

When the tornado hit at half past five
Ma was in the kitchen with a butcher’s knife
Pa was in the field planting the crops on time
And I was in bed with Evangeline

Well Pa came a running holdin’ his hat on tight
Uncle Jim up from the barn with the twister in site
Ma was a-yellin’ in the pale orange light
When Evangeline let go and stared into the night

Evangeline why’d you leave?
Well, I know things got so hard
When your mama died and left you the kids
And your father at the bar

Evangeline why’d you leave?
It would have been all right in the end
By the sweet winding river
With my helping hand to lend

Well I jumped up from the bed, told Evangeline to run
Then I grabbed young Joey, our only son
We all headed for the storm cellar as the whole world spun
But it was too late when we turned and what she had done

Evangeline why’d you leave?
Well, I know things got so hard
Even the spring, the wind in your hair
And the kids playing in the yard

Couldn’t clear away those clouds
That had gathered in your head
Guess I was a fool to think that I could help
As a lover or a friend

She was walking and then running straight into its eye
She was swept up in that storm that climbed into the sky
Uncle Jim pulled me down as I let out a cry
And raised my eyes up to the wind to watch her one more time

Evangeline why’d you leave?
Well, I know things got so hard
When your mama died and left you the kids
And your father at the bar

Evangeline why’d you leave?
It would have been all right in the end
By the sweet winding river
With my helping hand to lend


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

Both available at CDBABY.COM/all/petemcdonald

Set List

Typical set lists promoting my original music consist of mostly original songs from both of my records.

Nov. 13, 2005: Here and Gone: CD Release

1. American Dream
2. On the Radio
3. For You Now
4. Wearing the Blues
5. Cold Water - Tom Waits
6. Like the Moon
7. Down and Out
8. Not Like Your Mother
9. Off and On Blue
10. Sling Blade
11. Your Own Way
12. Can't Be True
13. Powderfinger - Neil Young
14. Evangeline
15. Like Roses
1. Pooh Sticks - NEW
2. Oh My Sweet Carolina - Ryan Adams

Nov. 25, 2005: Roadhouse Stage

1. American Dream
2. Wishing Wells - NEW
3. White Freight Liner (duet) - Townes Van Zandt
4. Jolene (duet) - Ray LaMontagne
5. Dear Catherine - Uncle Daddy and the Family Secret
6. Evangeline
7. Cool and Dark Inside - Kel Robertson
8. After the Rockies
9. Like the Moon
10. On the Radio
11. Wearing the Blues
12. Like Roses
1. For You Now