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On The Air: Folksinger John McCutcheon salutes KVMR, community radio nationally in Sunday streaming benefit concert

By Steve Baker
Special to Prospector


When folksinger/storyteller John McCutcheon decided to do an online benefit concert for his favorite community radio stations, the list got so long that he decided to do two concerts, one for stations in the east that took place earlier this month and one for those in the west this Sunday, June 27, at 5 p.m.

And, no surprise, KVMR 89.5 FM was literally at the top of that list.

So KVMR is getting a healthy percentage of every ticket sold online through the nonprofit Nevada City station’s website — kvmr.org — where it’s $30 for a family or household, $20 individual or $5 for those unemployed or laid off.

That’s because KVMR and Nevada City have always been something very special to John.

As he recently says in a recorded message to KVMR listeners, “most of you know about my long love affair with KVMR.”

“It began over 30 years ago initially as an excuse to visit my old pal Utah Phillips.”

“It was Utah who first convinced me to come to Nevada City and do a concert for KVMR,” recalls McCutcheon. “He knew I thought I was just coming up to see him, but he also knew I’d fall in love with KVMR, and I have.”

Year after year, John has come to what he calls “the left coast” to do shows benefiting KVMR, going back to the days of the popeye pizza “that Cowboy Wally (Hagaman) always saved for me at Cowboy Pizza.”

And there was the beginning of Hospitality House when John and Utah did an impromptu fundraising performance before McCutcheon’s scheduled show that night.

“And then there was the always amazing audience … you guys,” he adds radiantly.

The streaming concert this Sunday will also have a couple surprises. McCutcheon will chat with a pair of radio savvy hosts:

— Popular 30-year live music show “eTown” host and co-creator Nick Forster, also a founding member of bluegrass/roots music band Hot Rize.

— National Public Radio’s Krista Tippett, host of the Peabody Award winning program “On Being.“

Some regional radio hosts will also participate.

The show will also be available to watch — or re-watch — for 48 hours after the live performance this Sunday at 5 p.m.

Ticketholders have the option to send John requests prior to the show, although McCutcheon will likely include some of the songs he’s written during what he calls “The New Abnormal” pandemic era.

Multiple Grammy nominations not withstanding, McCutcheon is known as folk music’s renaissance man — master instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, impactful and witty storyteller, activist and author.

Or you can take it straight from the late folk icon Pete Seeger.

“John McCutcheon is not only one of the best musicians in the USA, but also a great singer, songwriter, and song leader,” said Seeger. “And not just incidentally, he is committed to helping hard-working people everywhere to organize and push this world in a better direction.”

On The Air is a periodic feature about KVMR 89.5 FM, a non-commercial eclectic community radio station in Nevada City with 170 volunteer broadcasters. It has a second signal with different programming at 105.7 FM and indie rock and alternative programming at KVMRx.org streaming

John McCutcheon holds a national celebration and benefit streaming performance for KVMR 89.5 FM Nevada City and other community and public radio stations this Sunday night at 7 p.m. Tickets and information at kvmr.org.
Photo by Irene Young

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