Antje Duvekot w/ Michael McDermott
Antje Duvekot has solidified her reputation as one of Boston's top singer songwriters with "Big Dream Boulevard" her debut studio release and "the Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer" her follow-up CD. The debut CD was produced by Seamus Egan, founder of the Irish super group, SOLAS. The project was released on acclaimed songwriter Ellis Paul's label, Black Wolf Records and quickly attracted international attention for Antje. It was voted "#1 Folk Release of 2006" by the Boston Globe and was named to the "Top10 Releases of the Year" by National Public Radio's, Folk Alley. Her follow up album "the Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer" was produced by Richard Shindell and along side with Richard features other "folk royalty" such as John Gorka, Lucy Kaplancky and Mark Erelli. It was voted #1 album of the year 2009 by WUMB 91.9 fm in Boston.
"What a blessing to have worked with someone as talented as Antje. With a voice like hers, and songs as good as these, a producer (especially a first-time producer!) just tries to get out of the way, to do no harm, and to let the artist speak for herself." - Richard Shindell
former Rolling Stone music editor Dave Marsh says (about Antje'd debut 'Big Dream Boulevard'): "This is a brilliant, brilliant album. I have had this reaction once in the last 10 years and that was the first time I heard Patty Griffin."
"Duvekot has gotten hotter, faster than any local songwriter in recent memory. Her songs feel at once fresh faced and firmly rooted, driven by the whispery sensuality of her voice. She believes in the redemptive power of the shared secret; and is utterly unafraid to mine the darkest corners of her life for songs that turn fear into resilience and isolation into community". The Boston Globe
Antje has won some of the top songwriting awards including the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, the prestigious, Kerrville (TX) "Best New Folk Award" and in one of the nation's top music markets, she won the Boston Music Award for "Outstanding Folk Act", three of the top prizes in the singer songwriter world.
Antje has extensive touring experience, criss-crossing the US and Europe several times. She is a compelling live performer and has been invited to play some of the top festivals including The Newport Folk Festival as well as the Mountain Stage, Philadelphia and Kerrville Festivals. Internationally, she's headlined the The Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and the Tonder Festival in Denmark.
In December of 2007, The Bank of America featured Antje's song "Merry Go Round" in a national TV advertising campaign seen by millions, including a Super Bowl audience. Antje's fast growing fan base, the viral spreading of her music and a track record of sold-out shows are a testament to her growing popularity. Neil Dorfsman, the producer of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Sting says, "When I first heard Antje I knew I was witnessing something very special. She creates an entire, detailed world in verse, and takes you there with beautiful and understated melody. Her songs are stunning paintings of color and shade and always generate the heat and light that real art should. In an unpoetic and 'in your face' world, she is lyrical and subtle."
The anthemic, arena-filling "Scars From Another Life" (from his forthcoming album Hit Me Back) paints the a picture of how far singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has come: "I was so down... I had completely lost my way / When I hit Broadway I began to realize / That all they are are scars from another life." His life since becoming a recording artist—full of myriad highest highs, gutter-skimming lows, and absolute rock bottoms of the past two decades—could read like a screenplay, but with stories so ridiculously outlandish that they couldn't possibly be true.
All of it—the addiction, the failed relationships, the financial dramas, the career hurdles—have left plenty of scars, but McDermott's moving on, moving up, and taking charge. He makes no excuses for his past—it has made him who he is today—but sings to everyone listening (and to himself): "Don't run away, they're scars from another life."
It's been quite a ride since singer/songwriter Michael McDermott unleashed his debut, 620 West Surf, but one might even go so far as to say that his 2012 release, Hit Me Back, represents the work of a new artist: for the first time in his recording career, McDermott is a father, a philanthropic entrepreneur, and has experienced the loss of an adored parent. All are major life changes which have found achingly honest expression in his songs.
Hit Me Back also exudes McDermott's trademark embrace of faith and hope in the face of adversity. The lyrics are, as always, uniquely evocative: McDermott sings in poetry; his tunes are literate story-songs. On the haunting "Ever After," he offers the listener palpable insight into the jarring confusion and doubt felt in the days that followed his mother's passing (in October 2011). The wryly observed title track puts a new spin on fighting a long-time nemesis, alcohol. His demon-banishing in the aforementioned "Scars From Another Life" is echoed in the love-is-redemption refrains of "Let It Go." The exploration of temptation and bowing to its siren call is explored in the Americana-laced "A Deal With The Devil."
Influenced by such musical giants as Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, McDermott exhibited a talent for mature and lyrically dense songwriting that soon caught the eye—and ear—of then-talent scout Brian Koppelman (now a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer; best known as the co-writer of "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Rounders"), who immediately signed him to Giant Records. That first album, 620 West Surf, boasted a Billboard Hot 100 charting single, ("A Wall I Must Climb"). McDermott continued to write introspective, character-driven songs that won him an enduring band of appreciative followers. In the liner notes for McDermott's self-titled album, bestselling author Stephen King wrote: "Michael McDermott is one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock 'n' roll talent of the last 20 years."
The recording industry shakeup that marked the mid-1990s left McDermott without a contract, and awash in debt and self-doubt. "Throughout the years, I had continued to feel like I was on a mission, of sorts, singing spiritual songs," he once said, "but never really feeling good about the other elements of my life." McDermott released five more albums in the next decade, some with label distribution, others independently. He also continued playing live shows, and riding a personal rollercoaster of addiction, recovery, and sometimes-misplaced ambition.
Having at last become more comfortable in his own skin, scarred but smarter, McDermott has in recent years begun to make more life-affirming choices. He has launched his own coffee line, with sales from each bag of his two signature blends providing meals for seven children. Understandably, he's found positive inspiration in his wife, Heather Horton (whom he married during a tour stop in Italy in May 2009), and the birth of their daughter, Rain (in July 2010). And he's once again a signed artist, this time with New Jersey label, Rock Ridge Music, who will be releasing his forthcoming album. McDermott and wife Horton (a gifted musician/vocalist), and producer CJ Eiriksson (engineered albums for U2 and Matchbox 20, as well as McDermott's 2007 album Noise From Words) spent a whirlwind eight days in the studio to record Hit Me Back. Of course, recent positive inspiration doesn't mean he's forgotten his tumultuous past or that he no longer faces present struggles. For McDermott, a performer and storyteller to the depths of his soul, his connection with fans and his uncanny ability to communicate universal truths through his own personal experiences are helping fade the many of the scars that remain. The demons aren't gone; he's just found a place for them to dwell in peace. It is coming to terms with those demons and putting them in their place that continues to fuel his art ever further.