When the Riverside Tutorial began in the Fall of 2014, Brendan McCormack was already 12, which meant that he had only two full years as an apprentice. Yet that, combined with Riverside’s folk music sessions, proved to be enough to fuel his passion for music.
Now 21 years old, Brendan is a rugby-playing, business major at Ave Maria University, where he plays bass as many as three nights a week for a popular local band called the Back Country Boys. While that is a bit far to travel for most Riversiders, Brendan’s one-man show will come to the Roxy in Lockport on June 14. Brendan–who plays guitar, piano, and bass, and dabbles in ukulele, mandolin, and drums–says he plans to “step it up” with a new and even “more impressive” set list for the home crowd.
If you’d like to go, purchase tickets at //brendanlive.ticketleap.com/live-at-roxy-brendan-mccormack/t/4d3174cfa2cc6e980be97d8c2d812652/
In the meantime, check out what he has to say about his time at Riverside and his future career plans.
What types of programs/projects at Riverside did you enjoy the most?
I remember getting the most excited after I would write a creative story. We would have these projects that were different every time. We’d sit down with the tutor and he would give us his own story and give us an example of what the project was supposed to be like. He would prep our imagination and get the wheels turning so we would be geared to go home and create ourselves. We would use the boundaries and rules and guidelines to write our own creative story.
Every time after I’d finished, I felt very proud of my work and very excited that I’d just accomplished something like that. We’d get to go back and share the project with the other guys. I always loved that.
How do you think Riverside affected your life and what did it bring to your family?
Riverside has helped me to understand the importance of creativity in our life and our role as human beings. It is one of God’s greatest gifts to man. We are called to embrace the gift and give back to the people around us. The medium for me is music, which Riverside taught me about myself.
Riverside also gave me an opportunity to exercise the things that a boy desires to exercise at that age—going outside, working with his hands, asking questions. Riverside gave me a space to be able to do that and it gave a structure to that. This helped for when I moved into high school, and I had a good foundation that then translated into college.
When did you start playing music and did you immediately enjoy it? Why?
I loved music from a pretty young age. Two of my uncles were in bands, still are in bands. They were these heroes in my eyes as a little kid. I wanted to be like them and play guitar like them and sing the songs they sang. Riverside was the fire that kept it going. I already loved music and wanted to do it on my own. Riverside had folk sessions and performances, which gave me an opportunity to expand on this love and to learn more.
Would you call Pete Searby a musical mentor? What do you think is the importance of such guidance/encouragement?
I would say that he is a musical mentor and in a lot of ways, he is a mentor overall as a man and as someone I’ve strived to be like. Musically he sort of taught me everything I know whether it be during a one-on-one session or folk sessions. I remember he asked if I wanted to play for the musical I Am Jimmy Wremble way back when it was first performed. Mr. Searby taught me all the songs and in so doing taught me how to play the guitar. I learned a ton from that experience. It was a creative way to teach me. He is a very talented musician in so many different ways. He is amazing at connecting with the student he is teaching or the person he is working with– meeting them where they are at musically and pushing them towards where they want to go.
Where will you take music?
I would love to be able to do music full time. I don’t want to enter the music industry in a way that a lot of people strive to do. The more famous you are, the more people pay for your music but that doesn’t appeal to me because the music industry is very messed up; there is a lot of evil going on. But music is still such a good art form. I would love to be able to write for artists–get in on the writing circles and work with more popular artists that are well known. Also produce for them–take their idea for a song, listen to them talk about it, listen to them play it, take what their imagination is saying and turn it into what you hear on the radio.
Riverside helped cultivate my imagination. The imagination has way of its own; there is not a ton of rhyme and reason to it. If you have an active imagination that creates a lot, that hasn’t been a sleep it will be able to do its thing: write songs, produce music, or art.