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, Chuck 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.
Chuck'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 Chuck's reach beyond the Boston area. The late 70's found Chuck 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, Chuck moved to Los Angeles and formed the more rock-oriented Chuck McDermott Band. The group quickly moved up in the crowded LA music scene, headlining at the famous Palomino Club and attracting major label interest. Early upon his arrival in LA, Chuck met John Stewart and began a friendship and musical collaboration that continued throughout John’s life. Their close
musical rapport became evident to John Stewart fans on his recording, Blondes, which featured Chuck'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 John’s passing in 2008, Chuck has been a
mainstay in the John Stewart Band, the collective of Stewart’s former sidemen who perform John’s music and keep his musical legacy alive and vibrant. In 1984, Chuck released the album The Turning of the Wheel on the UK-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, Chuck's career took a turn away from the full-time pursuit of music, but he has not been idle.
Over the last few decades, Chuck 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.
Chuck's attention has now turned back to his music, and he recently released 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.
"Chuck McDermott's new album reflects a mature, open-hearted comeback by one of the more fascinating, under-the-radar singers of his generation. Chuck cut his teeth in the country-rock field but left music for a real job for many years. He has since enjoyed a creative rebirth. He has enlarged his focus to a sophisticated cross between honest singer-songwriter originals ("Gin & Rosewater" was inspired by his future wife), Steve Earle-style passion ("Red Betty"), funky Little Feat-like excursions and a stunningly reworked cover of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" that is like hearing the song for the first time. But the most powerful moment comes on "Hold Back the Water," a moodily atmospheric, very modern-sounding track about the ravaging of the planet. Chuck uses a great cast of musicians throughout and this album is a welcome breath of fresh air for listeners who crave lasting quality above fickle trends".
Steve Morse– longtime Boston Globe Music Critic, Professor of Rock History at Berklee College of Music