John McCutcheon at Court Square Theater on Saturday, June 18
No one remembers when the neighbors started calling the McCutcheons to complain about the loud singing from young John’s bedroom. It didn’t seem to do much good, though. For, after a shaky, lopsided battle between piano lessons and baseball (he was a mediocre pianist and an all-star catcher), he had “found his voice” thanks to a cheap mail-order guitar and a used book of chords.
From such inauspicious beginnings, John McCutcheon has emerged as one of our most respected and loved folksingers. As an instrumentalist, he is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments, most notably the rare and beautiful hammer dulcimer. His songwriting has been hailed by critics and singers around the globe. His thirty recordings have garnered every imaginable honor including seven Grammy nominations. He has produced over twenty albums of other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works.
Even before graduating summa cum laude from Minnesota’s St. John’s University, this Wisconsin native literally “headed for the hills,” forgoing a college lecture hall for the classroom of the eastern Kentucky coal camps, union halls, country churches, and square dance halls. His apprenticeship to many of the legendary figures of Appalachian music imbedded a love of not only homemade music, but a sense of community and rootedness.
The result is music…whether traditional or from his huge catalog of original songs…with the profound mark of place, family, and strength. It also created a storytelling style that has been compared to Will Rogers and Garrison Keillor. But it is in live performance that John feels most at home. It is what has brought his music into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage, with what critics describe as “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.
John McCutcheon performs at Harrisonburg’s Court Square Theater on Saturday, June 18. Doors open at 7:00pm, concert begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 in advance and $24 at the door. Please visit valleyarts.org or call 540.433.9189 for more information and to purchase tickets.
Court Square Theater is located at 41-F Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia.