By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg
Gene McCormick is more than a superb musician; This Newport resident is working on special programs for the Department of Corrections all over the state, he is charming and certainly looks much younger than his 64 years, quite a feat considering the many years he has been on the stage. He is usually accompanied by his charming wife Cynthia and a coterie of friends and fellow musicians which sadly made up the audience last Saturday at the NEK Tasting Center where Mr. McCormick gave a sterling performance of jazz and blues favorites.
As a singer McCormick can modulate his amazingly rich voice from James Earl Jones right through the lilt of a Harry Belafonte but he does it without theatricals or artifice. This is just his voice, his gift, and when he tells you "I live for music" you believe him. This is a unique musician who also is a virtuoso on the keyboard and of course his famous saxophone where his talent shines as brightly as the highly polished brass in his hands.
The repertoire ranged from old standbys like "Brown Eyed Girl" to "How sweet it is to being loved by you" or James Taylers famous "Fire and rain", "Honky tonk blues" or "Slip sliding away" brought all but the bar staff to the dance floor and the backdrop of cars gliding silently by on the glittering fresh snow and among the lights of Main street made the perfect backdrop to an enchanted evening in Newport.
Mr. McCormick's friend Marc Burroughs-Biron, a gifted amateur guitarist sat in on a number of song sequences and added yet another dimension to a performance which should have been enjoyed by hundreds, not a dozen enthusiasts. Gene will play this Friday at the Tower Bar in Jay Peak, so anyone who has missed his Newport performance will have another opportunity to hear this gifted Vermonter.
|Always present, Mr.McCormick's wife Cynthia More (right) in conversation with Nancy Kenney|