Fresh Tracks: Colm Mac Carthy’s first folk effort features his friends

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It was a game of golf that sent Colm Mac Carthy on a course correction toward music. The Dublin-born physician had a chance encounter with Edmonton’s Sandro Dominelli while en route to a golf course in Castlegar, B.C. in 2021 that reignited his passion for guitar playing.

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Shortly after, Mac Carthy found himself in Dominelli’s studio, recording early versions of songs that would eventually become his debut album, Stepping Stones. 

The cover of Colm MacCarthy’s debut album, Stepping Stones. Supplied

Growing up in Ireland, Mac Carthy was fond of folk musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, inspiring him enough to try his hand at fingerstyle guitar until the rigours of medical school pulled him away from his playing. For 30 years he didn’t touch a guitar while busy practising medicine in Ireland, England and eventually rural communities in Manitoba and Alberta. Mac Carthy credits his purchase of a 12-fret acoustic guitar crafted by Boucher, a company in Quebec, from an Edmonton music shop for guiding his life back towards his love of music.

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Dominelli is behind the board for Stepping Stones but he also provides a jazzy backbeat to many of the tracks, while Doug Stepenson lends his guitar talents, Darcy Phillips adds his piano skills and Christine Hanson provides cello.

The result is 13 tracks of easy-listening music; soothing acoustic folk songs about keeping hopes alive and remaining positive. Particularly of note is the song Kurseong, a personal tribute to a departed Afghanistan veteran.

Seeing the potential of realizing the dreams of budding musicians, Mac Carthy set about creating a foundation to help fund solo Canadian songwriters in the folk and pop genres to help them record their original songs in a professional setting. According to Mac Carthy, the goal of the foundation is to build a community in which songwriters are connected with music professionals who will help mentor and record their songs to be released to the general public. More information can be found at

Check out the Edmonton Journal’s Fresh Tracks playlist on Spotify.

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