Often called the “finest folk troubadour of our time,” John McCutcheon is returning by popular demand to the Sebastiani Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13.
McCutcheon’s music conveys the message that the global family can make the world a better place by working together. Throughout his 30-plus year career, McCutcheon has built a bridge across generations. He first performed in elementary schools, not in bars. Called a musician for the ages in all of its meanings, he draws no lines between children and adults – anyone who enjoys the honest rewards of folk music is welcome and people of all ages rush to hear him perform.
He has appeared with Pete Seeger, with whom he is often compared, Arlo Guthrie, and Johnny Cash, who once called McCutcheon “the most impressive instrumentalist I’ve ever heard.” During performances, McCutcheon switches skillfully from banjo, to guitar, jaw harp, fiddle, auto harp, and piano. He is also recognized as a master of the hammer dulcimer, America’s only traditional mallet instrument. Placing the many instruments he introduces in their, he ethnic framework teaches the audience to make music themselves as he weaves tales as modern fables, rich in history and universal scope.
The lifelong interest in music of this 58-year-old Wisconsin-born, Blue Ridge Mountain-based folk minstrel was sparked in part by the civil rights movement. McCutcheon heard the songs of the Dust Bowl refugees, the Grapes of Wrath stories that cracked on the airwaves of the early 1960s radio, and knew something else was going on.
While still a college student, the oldest of a large Irish Catholic family, McCutcheon took up the banjo and, under the tutelage of some of the greats of traditional Southern music, he quickly mastered seven different instruments, became an insightful and powerful singer of traditional songs, and honed an ear for a good story. Songwriting, storytelling, social activism all met and finally made sense.