While a local musician may have grown up and moved away to follow his musical dreams, he makes a point of coming home to Collingwood every year to pay tribute to the town that raised him.
This year is no exception.
Austin McCarthy is a name familiar to locals.
The 23-year-old singer-songwriter and guitarist grew up in Collingwood to a musical family. His father, Mike, is the namesake member of The Mike McCarthy Band.
He remembers instruments always being around the house in his formative years.
“I started playing piano at around three or four,” McCarthy said in an interview this week with CollingwoodToday.
The musician started playing guitar at 14 after being inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood album.
“I was like, I just need to play guitar now,” he said with a laugh.
McCarthy has honed his skills locally starting with busking, winning Collingwood Idol in 2014. Also in 2014, he was a Top-5 finalist in the CBC Searchlight contest.
Since then, McCarthy has managed to play alongside some of his idols.
“I opened for Kim Mitchell. Last year, I opened for Jim Cuddy,” McCarthy said. “It was pretty incredible. With the Jim Cuddy show, the amount I listen to Blue Rodeo... the songs become a part of your life. It was a surreal feeling."
Every summer, McCarthy likes to come back to Collingwood to play a few shows to pay tribute to his roots.
“Every year I think about, what new can I bring? This year, what’s new is I'm bringing my band from Montreal. They’re all incredible musicians,” he said.
McCarthy is the lead songwriter, singer, and plays both rhythm and lead guitar. Nico Boo plays bass, Ben Mayo-Goldberg is on drums and Katie Paradis is on the saxophone.
McCarthy lists his musical influences as Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, John Mayer, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.
“I have two different types of influences: the guitar influences and the songwriting influences,” he said. “At the end of the day, music is my passion, it’s my life, it’s what I love to do.”
McCarthy said the support he’s received from residents of Collingwood has been “incredible.”
“There’s a woman there who hired me for my very first gig. I was busking outside the LCBO, and she hired me for a gig. I think I was 17. She asked me if I could play for three hours. I didn’t have three hours of material, so I went home and learned it,” said McCarthy. “Anyway, I ended up playing a party and it was a lot of fun. Now, I come back to play her backyard house party every year.”
“It’s five years of friendship created through music,” he added.
McCarthy recently completed his finance degree at Concordia University. Within the next year, he plans to record a new EP.
But for now, his sights are set on Collingwood.
“It’s good to be coming home to play these shows,” he said.
For more information on Austin McCarthy’s music, click here.
McCarthy’s tour stops
- Aug. 21- Local Live Lunch
- Aug. 21 - Jazz and Blues at The Station
- Aug. 22 - Stayner Music Market and Park it
- Aug. 23 - CROW. Bar and Variety
- Aug. 24 - Wasaga Beach Community Barbecue
- Aug. 24 - Mad River Junior Club championship