Entertainment Local

Venue change for John McDermott's annual Northumberland Christmas show

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

John McDermott Trio

John McDermott Trio

COBOURG -- Local fans of international recording star John McDermott have long appreciated knowing that they can look forward to his annual concert at Port Hope's Capitol Theatre as part of their Christmas festivities.

They still can, McDermott stated in an interview last week -- but the venue has changed to the Victoria Hall Concert Hall.

It's a slight alteration to a tradition of more than 20 years' standing, he said.

McDermott has enjoyed many happy years making an annual visit to the beautiful Port Hope theatre, with its romantic decor and the magnificent Festival of Trees display.

This year, however, he was bumped by their holiday panto.

"So we have moved down the road to Cobourg to start an annual event there," McDermott said.

It's a different ambience. But the heritage and grandeur are still there with a Victorian flavour, and all he's heard about the venue from other performers has been very positive.

"It's not a far jog down the road, and I am so looking forward to it," he said.

He admitted to some disappointment with having to leave the Capitol.

"I always loved the trees -- but I am happy we've found a new place to be. It was a nice surprise to know there's a concert hall there, and the people I've been working with are terrific."

The move means that his fans can continue their own holiday tradition of enjoying his interpretation of favourites old and new, seasoned with a beguiling sense of humour and moving remembrance tributes.

This year's show features special guest Dala, Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year. Describing members Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, McDermott called them "an amazing harmony unit."

McDermott appreciates the welcome he always gets in this community, and also hopes everyone will take a moment to learn more about a new passion of his.

McDermott House Canada is his new foundation -- not a physical structure, he said, but his way of supporting projects that are important to him. The current one is renovating and expanding the palliative-care unit at Sunnybrook Hospital's veterans' wing. It's a $3.6-million project, and he's already raised $2.7-million. Phase one of the project was completed last year, a garden room, lobby area and kitchens.

His next project will have to do with PTSD and hospice care.

You can find out more (and offer support if you wish) at mcdermotthousecanada.org.

And you can get tickets for the Dec. 18 show (at the Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m.) at the Concert Hall box office. Tickets (theatre-style reserved seating) are $40 plus HST and service fee (905-372-2210 or concerthallatvictoriahall.com.