Folk Singer McCutcheon Set to Perform
John McCutcheon wasn't supposed to become a folksinger. He was headed for a lucrative career as a social worker in migrant labor camps.
But Woody Guthrie got there first. He heard the songs of the Dust Bowl refugees, the "Grapes of Wrath" stories that crackled on the airwaves of early 1960s radio, and knew something else was going on.
While still a college student, McCutcheon took up the banjo "to help keep myself sane" and went off the deep end. He heard recordings of Roscoe Holcomb and Clarence Ashley, walked out to the end of the college road, stuck out his thumb and never looked back.
He ended up roaming the Appalachians, trading a university classroom for the front porches, picket lines, union halls, churches, and square dance barns of his adopted home. 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.
From this series of chance beginnings John McCutcheon has become what one Australian paper called "the most overwhelming folk performer in the English language." His mastery of American folk music and instruments, complemented by "storytelling that has the richness of fine literature" (Washington Post) weave intimate, insightful and often hilarious canvases on which McCutcheon draws his vision of Americana. His songwriting, rich in detail and broad in scope, have created a catalog of hundreds of songs covered by performers throughout the world. His classic "Christmas in the Trenches" has been repeatedly cited as "the greatest anti-war song ever written" and is the subject of an annual, coast-to-coast special on CBC.
Find out what all the fuss is about when John McCutcheon performs Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at R.E. Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School.
The program is presented by the Pinecrest High School Choral Dept. and the Arts Council of Moore County.
Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased from any Pinecrest choral student, at the Campbell House (482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines), and at the door.
Equally at home in the recording studio, McCutcheon has produced over 25 albums in as many years. He has garnered an amazing five consecutive Grammy nominations, been awarded every imaginable award in the independent record industry, been featured on public radio throughout the world, and brought joy to millions of listeners from Seattle to Sydney.
Additionally he has produced documentary and educational recordings, written for numerous publications, authored children's books, chaired literacy campaigns, championed grassroots organizations throughout the world, promoted international musicians, and is even currently the president of the most innovative and fastest growing local in the musicians' union.
This is all in his spare time. His "real job" is father to two teenage sons, both of whom are musicians and who even, unbelievably, think that a lot of what Dad does is "pretty cool." John lives with his family in Charlottesville, Va.
For tickets and information, stop by the Campbell House, call the Arts Council at 910-692-4356, or check out the Web at www. artscouncil-moore.org.
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