WARREN, NJ - Michael DeMarco, a sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School, won first place in the Phillipsburg Ole Towne Festival "Showcase of the Stars" competition on July 18.
Hearing about it through the Warren Recreation Department, DeMarco applied to perform his own medley of songs by Bill Withers and Maroon 5.
Self-taught for three years, DeMarco recently took lessons to enhance his technique. In addition to his passion for acoustic and electric guitar, he is a talented singer who loves blues, jazz and rock.
DeMarco has been playing local open mic nights. In addition to co-hosting a recent event at Little Shanty in Warren, he has played solo gigs at the Dragonfly Café in Somerville, as well as jammed with The Slackjaw Blues Band, inspired by their blues/rock sound. DeMarco has even played with Bernard Purdie, an innovative groove drummer known to many for his “funky and low down beats.” Having worked with Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Cat Stevens, and recently on Broadway, Purdie certainly had a lot of expertise to share with DeMarco.
DeMarco was extremely proud to have participated in the Showcase of the Stars event, and winning first place at the high school level was a rewarding experience. In addition to a cash prize, he was awarded music lessons at the Lesson Center in Bethlehem and a discount to record at Sixwell Studios. This may come in handy as DeMarco has also taken up songwriting. WHRHS and community residents should all keep their ears and eyes open for this young talent to soar.