McCutcheon virtual ‘tour’ supporting KVMR, strings concerts and other California nonprofits, presenters
Special to The Union
Folksinger, storyteller and multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon is once again doing his fabled “Left Coast Tour” of California, only this time everyone gets to be in the front row.
With the pandemic scuttling the actual tour, McCutcheon will do a virtual live performance online 4 p.m. this Saturday night aimed to support his west coast show presenters and nonprofit partners, including Strings Concerts and KVMR 89.5 FM locally.
“Every January for over thirty years I’ve been touring in California,” recalls John. “It’s a family reunion, a gathering of the tribe, a post-holiday celebration, an annual check-in … and a restorative joy for me.
“I couldn’t imagine missing this year. Especially this year. I’ve been writing up a storm, so there’ll be loads of new songs and stories, plus plenty of old favorites.”
McCutcheon and KVMR go back to at least the early ’90s with live shows at the Miners Foundry, Grass Valley Veterans Hall, The Center for the Arts and Nevada Union High School’s Don Baggett Theater. This year, it comes to the comfort of your home.
Tickets and information for Saturday’s performance and fundraiser for KVMR are available at stringsconcerts.com
There is even a special $5 price for those “unemployed or laid off.”
“Everyone needs music these days, so we want to keep it affordable,” says McCutcheon.
The virtual show is also benefiting The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, the Sebastiani Theater in Sonoma, Modesto Peace & Life and Chico community radio station KZFR, all of whom are promoting the tour concert in their cities.
According to John, he knew he wasn’t the only one taking a financial hit when the physical tour was canceled.
“A lot of these presenters have become old friends by now. I want and need them to survive so that we can continue our work together on the other side of all this.”
McCutcheon will surely sing some of the songs from his newest website only release, “Cabin Fever: Songs From the Quarantine,“ available at folkmusic.com
John had just returned from an Australian tour on March 16 and immediately went into a self-imposed quarantine. Hermited away at his north Georgia cabin, he spent his days reading, writing, and trying to use his time creatively.
“Cabin Fever” came from that experience. From the funny (“Six Feet Away”) to the heartfelt (“The Night John Prine Died”), John ruminates on love at a distance, the national mood, those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, those forgotten, what happens after all this, and even the surprising resurgence of the bean.
With his keen eye for the great within the small, his captivating storytelling, and his ability to go for the funny bone and the heart at once, it’s already considered vintage McCutcheon.
John has been at the forefront of American folk music since the late ’70s, covering a wide variety of traditions including Appalachian dulcimer and fiddle music, topical protest songs and even children’s albums for respected folk labels like June Appal, Red House and Rounder Records.
Establishing himself as a master of the hammered dulcimer on the groundbreaking 1977 release “The Wind That Shakes The Barley” and proficient on numerous instruments from fiddle, banjo, guitar, jawharp to piano, McCutcheon has also performed widely as a storyteller, written several books, received a variety of Grammy Award nominations, worked as a social and labor activist and produced albums for other artists such as Holly Near, making him somewhat of a renaissance man.
He’s the kind of artist who gets reviews like “John McCutcheon, the American dissident composer, is the most versatile and compelling performer this reviewer has ever seen.”
That’s from Pravda.
McCutcheon has done some virtual concerts with Mandolin, a simple, easy-to-use platform with studio-quality sound “and they’ve been really successful.”
“I can’t wait to gather my audiences from California and get them all sitting together for the first time.”
“Thanks for adapting to this New Abnormal,” John says with a smile. “See you soon…and see you, in person!…in 2022.”
Steve Baker writes weekly ’’On The Air’ columns for The Union’s entertainment publication, Prospector.
WHO: Strings Concerts presents a KVMR-FM fundraiser
WHAT: Folksinger/storyteller John McCutcheon’s Virtual Left Coast Tour Concert
WHEN: This Saturday, Jan. 9, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Online, information at stringsconcerts.com
TICKETS: $20 general admission; $30 household or family; $10 students; $5 unemployed/laid off price, available from stringsconcerts.com
INFO: stringsconcerts.com, kvmr.org, folkmusic.com
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