Ryan’s Speech at the Angel Midnight Release Party

Ryan McDonald

Ryan McDonald

I just want to say a few words about how and why we put together this CD release party.

Those of you who know my father, John McDonald, likely know that music has always been his true passion in life. From his high school band days to his time with Sour Mash Boys and through today, he has always surrounded himself with music. From what I’ve been told, in his Sour Mash days, he shared the stage with many noteable musicians such as Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dell McCoury, Willie Nelson, Duke Robillard, NRBQ, The J. Giels Band, and the Cars.

His career with the country rock band John Lincoln Wright and the Sour Mash Boys lasted for six years, through the late 1970’s. The band was was successful throughout the Northeast. Cambridge and Boston was their home base but they worked constantly throughout New England and venues from Canada to New York City.

Throughout his time with the Sour Mash Boys, my dad began writing his own songs, beginning with his first song, “Sweet Montana.” Once he left the Sour Mash Boys, he continued writing, playing gigs when possible, and recording in our home, either in our attic or basement. Many of the songs that you will hear today were in fact recorded by my dad at home, in between twelve hour work days and while he juggled the daily stresses as a father and husband.

Knowing my dad, it is obvious to me that when he decided to leave the Sour Mash Boys, it wasn’t because he had lost his passion for music, but instead that he wanted to be a good husband and father and decided he needed to use his other skills to support his new family.

He would never, and has never, said this, but in many ways he sacrificed his musical career for my mom, brother, sister, and myself, and we’ve always felt that, due to work, family, and his busy life schedule, not enough people have had the opportunity to hear his work.

As many of you know, a few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, which has had a significant impact on my his daily life as well as our families. However, throughout his struggles, my father’s passion for what he knows best––music, was reignited.

He began listening and practicing to all of his previous recorded songs, and together with a lot of help, we were able to compile some of his work on a professionally produced CD so that others can hear the fruits of his lifelong work as a talented singer/songwriter.

Now I don’t want to get all mushy up here, but I need to say a few other things. Dad, you have taught me much over the years:

You have taught me that while, for some fortunate people, work can be both their means of support and passion, for most others these things are separate. However, you have shown me that one can work at a job to support oneself and others while still pursuing your true passion in life–even if life circumstances may restrict you.

You have taught me the enormous importance of family in one’s life. Not only by the sacrifices you’ve made, but also by the time and support you gave me while I was still trying to seek out my own passions in life.

And lastly, you continue to show me––on a daily basis––the strength to overcome the difficult obstacles/struggles set in front of you, as you face your illness. On behalf of Mom, Trav, Lindsay, myself, family and friends‚ I thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do, and for Angel Midnight. This party is for you. I love you, Dad.