Damian McGinty Delights Crowd While Bedford Delights McGinty

The house lights dimmed, training the focus on a colorful array of giant Polaroids: moments in the life of Damian McGinty. Then the world-renowned singer and actor took to the stage for an evening of beautiful music courtesy of two new friends of  Bedford County.

“I thought I’d been everywhere, and then I came to Bedford,” said McGinty as he opened his sold-out concert at the Bedford Elks Country Club Wednesday evening.

Sharing his appreciation of the local community, the 30-year-old principal performer of Celtic Thunder delighted the crowd with original music, Irish favorites, and fun covers spanning decades of music from the US and across the pond.

“We knew Damian would put on a great show,” said Chamber President-CEO Kellie Goodman Shaffer.  “But he exceeded even the highest of our expectations.  We absolutely love sharing this amazing talent with our community, and we love sharing our special community with him.”

After being hosted by the Golden Eagle Inn, McGinty spent the morning of the concert exploring downtown Bedford – visiting the farmer’s market, popping into local shops, and going for a run along the river.  He shared his observations during the pre-concert meet-and-greet, and throughout the concert, stuck by the area’s charming beauty and cooperative spirit.

“Bedford reminds me of (my hometown of) Derry (Northern Ireland), said McGinty. “When you grow up in a place like this you think you want to go to the big city, and then you realize what you really love is right here…there’s so much love in these  shops.”

The local event, to benefit the Bedford County Chamber Foundation, was part of McGinty’s national Acoustic Moments tour, and featured brilliant accompaniment by guitarist David Bakey.

McGinty seemed the perfect fit in support of educational programs like Youth Leadership Bedford County, which challenges students to become servant leaders while encouraging experiences outside of their comfort zone.

“Damian is such a wonderful example of what we teach in our leadership programs,” explained Goodman Shaffer.  “From touring America at the age of 14 with Celtic Thunder, to competing in the Glee Project, to his recent stint as part of Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars, he’s always pushing himself to try new things, and be the best version of himself, and we love him for that.”

McGinty’s original music is an eclectic blend of pop, folk, and adult alternative contemporary sounds, with country influences and Irish roots.  His songs celebrate his love of life – from his wife of four years to his Emerald Isle homeland, leaving audiences engaged and moved. His covers ranged from the Bee Gees to Tracy Chapman to Ed Sheeran, all performed with infectious positivity.

“I remember hearing Damian sing years ago on Glee and thinking how good he was, but I was certainly not prepared for that first moment of hearing him sing live,” said Miriah Lassinger.  “His voice is so full and beautiful, and he connected to the audience, both young and old, in the wonderful ways he tells stories with a song. If I had closed my eyes and listened, there was no way to think I’m at the Bedford Elks; I would have expected to open my eyes to the DC Wolf Trap Auditorium, the quality of his talent was astounding.”

As beautiful as the music was, concert guests seemed just as impressed with McGinty’s kindness, greeting everyone from elementary school students to Homewood residents with warm smiles and gracious photo opportunities.

“Damian listened and really cared about what everyone said to him,” reflected Krista Maola, a member of the Chamber Foundation Board of Trustees. “He took the time to have a meaningful conversation with each person during the meet and greet, and everyone was just so excited to get to spend time with him.”

McGinty was impressed with the team effort in support of his concert.  The thoughtful stage décor with the themes of adventure and making memories was created through a collaboration between Steltek Graphics and Sarah Ferrari Designs, with lighting and support from Soaring Eagle Productions. An East Coast RVs camper served as the artists’ green room, powered by a Knisely and Sons electric upgrade.  WattersWorks Photography and Sunny Oaks Studio captured the evening’s moments, while the Bedford Elks Country Club served as a most welcoming host.

“Our community really rallies around one another and it’s great to see everyone contribute their own unique expertise to create magical events like this,” said Maola. “We’ve seen it in programs like this concert series, but also for projects like the Silver Lining Drive-In and Holiday Nights of Lights. Our community embraces these dreams and makes them come true.”

The Chamber Foundation hopes the concert marks the beginning of a long relationship with Damian McGinty, who was sure this visit to Bedford County would not be his last.

“My band mates (Celtic Thunder’s Ryan Kelly and Neil Byrne) told me to come to Bedford and you’ll love it,” Damian added, “and they were right.  Whether I’m invited or not, I’m definitely coming back.”