Moorestown’s Perkins Center for the Arts’ DeCafe Concert Series will welcome musical duo McDermott’s Handy on April 8.
Spouses Kathy DeAngelo and Dennis Gormley play a variety of instruments ranging from the harp, fiddle and banjo to the guitar, flute and mandolin.
They developed their passion for Irish dance music through fiddler Ed McDermott, who was also the inspiration behind their stage name.
“He became our mentor in Irish music, and that’s how we named our group McDermott’s Handy,” DeAngelo said. “We do it in his honor.”
Gormley and DeAngelo also teach how to play Irish music, and since 1994, they have performed weekly sessions with their students and others.
“The attraction to me in playing any kind of music – even when I was doing folk music – was the ability to play with other people who enjoy the same music without actually having to sit around and rehearse,” DeAngelo noted.
“We had all these people that we were teaching, so we figured that a session would be a great place to have them come together,” Gormley said.
The DeCafe concert is the first in-person show for DeAngelo and Gormley post COVID.
“People are just starting to get used to going out to hear live music, so I think the next couple of months … it’s going to be interesting to see how people get over that or they don’t,” DeAngelo said.
After performing virtually for over a year, she and Gormley are excited to get back what they lost.
“For a performer, it’s not the same playing to a computer screen (as) it is to actually seeing people and being able to look them in the eye and hear them sing and all of that,” DeAngelo explained.
Both Gormley and DeAngelo also sing traditional Irish songs.
“There’s a saying that, ‘Irish music is like a river with many tributaries flowing into it,’” Gormley said. “Our repertoire consists mostly of Irish dance tunes, instrumentals – your jigs, your reels, things like that.”
The couple look forward to summer events, specifically the Somerset Folk Harp Festival and the Harp Tour of Ireland.
“I think it’s (a) tow in the water kind of thing for lots of events and venues coming back in this … We might be able to call it post pandemic,” DeAngelo said.
Gormley and DeAngelo expressed their love for McDermott’s Handy.
“When I started playing Irish music, it felt like coming home,” the former said. “I felt something. This is really where I should have been all along.”
“There’s nothing like hearing a whole room full of harps playing,” DeAngelo noted.
For information on tickets, visit public.perkinsarts.org/public/tickets.