Born in Ohio, Cormac made his singing debut on WKRC Radio in Cincinnati, as a three-year old belting out “Davy Crockett” on his father’s radio show. He returned to public performance some twenty years later, singing his own compositions with a bit more experience in his voice.
Rooted in rural New England since the age of ten, McCarthy grew up in towns where the economies teetered on marginal subsistence from logging and paper and woolen mills. His elementary school had the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in the same room. Though the area was small, his musical influences were not: his father’s love for jazz and classical music introduced Cormac to everything from Errol Garner to Beethoven.
It wasn’t until his sister made a visit home from college, bringing an armful of recordings by Dylan, Baez, and Eric Anderson, that things clicked musically for McCarthy: he traded his clarinet for a Western Auto guitar, purchasing the Black Diamond strings across the street at the barber shop.
In his own college years, Cormac studied literature and music and took a great liking to the works of James Joyce, Miles Davis and Mississippi John Hurt. He spent most of his time reading, playing guitar, and working in the local mills to pay for school. His college roommate, Bill Morrissey, helped encourage Cormac to make his music more public, and a stint of shared local gigs and storytelling marathons ensued.
A trip west followed college, as did an array of different jobs including construction worker, truck driver, street singer, and a stint as a migrant worker. Through his music Cormac has succeeded in bringing lyrical magic to some of these rougher edges of life.
Cormac has performed nationally on many stages including three times at the Newport Folk Festival, twice on NPR’s Mountain Stage Live Radio Show, Boston’s WUMB Folk Radio 10th anniversary celebration, headlined at the Night of Humor and Songwriters and American Troubadours with Eric Andersen and Townes Van Zandt at Boston’s Somerville Theater, Ben & Jerry’s One World, One Heart Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and more.
McCarthy has recorded 5 highly acclaimed albums and is working on a new one. Click Here!
Also a poet, he’s slowly been compiling a collection of prose poems. Take a look.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Cormac is not the novelist (author of “All the Pretty Horses, ” Blood Meridian”, etc.); although with his background in literature, rural roots, and knack for penning a great line it would draw some easy comparisons.
Presently, Cormac, his wife, Sammie Haynes, a musician in her own right, (www.treetopsmusic.com/), and their small, well-mannered dog live in southern Maine adjacent to the lively Seacoast arts scene centered around Portsmouth, NH.