- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Dan McCarthy considers himself blessed.

The Long Island, N.Y., native works in construction and concrete by day, and spends his evenings unwinding by writing and performing acoustic music.

The 43-year-old Hagerstown resident’s songwriting ability recently was noticed when he was chosen from more than 2,000 area musical acts to audition for the ongoing City II City Music in the Spotlight.

City II City, McCarthy said, is an opportunity for singer-songwriters to appear on in Demand networks, including Dish Network, Comcast Big South, Verizon FIOS and Verizon Wireless. McCarthy said he was able to apply through ReverbNation.

“I was actually in the top hundred acts of over 2,000 people applying for Baltimore, with acts coming as far as Charlottesville, Va., so I was really kind of blown away and at first, I thought, ‘Wow this is kind of crazy. Should I do it?’ And then I thought, ‘Well, of course I should do it, because what if I don’t do it? This could be the opportunity of a lifetime.’”

McCarthy said he’s confident he made the right decision.

“It’s gonna be a show kind of like ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol’ if you will, but it’s going to be delivered to over 120 different countries. I’m actually going to get to release a single. And the single that I picked is ‘My Wish For Peace.’”

“It’s an amazing exposure opportunity,” he said.

“My Wish For Peace” was written following the November terrorist attacks in Paris, McCarthy said.

“I was having this deep emotion and I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to write a song about it.’”

McCarthy said he has always loved music, and played guitar in a rock band when he was in high school. But he got away from performing after he went to college, got married and started a family.

Then, something changed for him.

“I had this moment of inspiration, if you will, just kind of looking around me. I’m just one of the luckiest guys, ‘cause I realized what I had. It just kind of sunk in and it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m happily married with two, bright amazing kids who get nearly perfect report cards almost every time and are so incredibly bright.’”

As a result of his realization, McCarthy said he wrote his first song, “Help Me to See,” which became part of his first album, “Lost, Enjoy Your Journey,” which was released in April 2014 on various digital platforms, including iTunes and Amazon.

His second album, “When the Light Fades,” was released in January 2015, after which McCarthy started getting requests to play at various local venues.

“It kind of started in West Virginia, and I’ve actually been playing a lot in Chambersburg (Pa.) and Gettysburg (Pa.) areas,” he said.

Earlier this month, McCarthy played at the pop-up shops event in downtown Hagerstown.

“I was really thrilled to help with that. They ask for volunteers to come and perform, and I like to be involved with the City of Hagerstown because I care, because I live here and I wanna see the downtown thrive,” he said.

McCarthy said his main influences are Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.

“I think those three guys are just stellar in their songwriting. I mean the stuff that they write about is just incredible music,” he said.

Otherwise, he said it’s difficult to label his music as a particular genre.

“I call myself an acoustic folk-rock singer-songwriter,” he said.

In addition to about 15 to 20 gigs a year, McCarthy said he plays in a praise band at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown with Western Maryland Blues Fest founder Carl Disque and Andrew Wallace, who also plays in the local band Staff Infection.

“Carl’s an amazing influence, too. Attorney by day and musician by night,” he said. “We all kind of lead these two-sided lives where we have a day job and then at night, we get to go play. It’s such a stress relief where you can use your creativity, and all the stress from the day actually just comes right out of you through your instrument. But in the process, you’re writing some amazing stuff.”

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Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com


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