BOONE — John McCutcheon, “Folk Music’s Rustic Renaissance Man,” will make his highly-anticipated debut at the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21. A master instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, storyteller, activist and author, McCutcheon will grace the stage of the historic venue in downtown Boone for his first concert in the High Country in more than five years.
Folk legend Pete Seeger said, “John McCutcheon is not only one of the best musicians in the USA, but also a great singer, songwriter, and song leader. And not just incidentally, he is committed to helping hard-working people everywhere to organize and push this world in a better direction.”
For more than 50 years, “Folk Music’s Rustic Renaissance Man” — as the Washington Post has put it — has been everywhere in the folk music scene. He is a breath-taking multi-instrumentalist, a traditional music archivist, one of the primary revivalists of the hammer dulcimer, a pioneering children’s and family artist, a prolific and wide-ranging songwriter, and the very definition of the touring Road Warrior.
John’s craftsmanship began at an early age. No one remembers when the neighbors started calling the McCutcheon household 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.
McCutcheon says that his connections to Boone were largely because of musicians around the High Country who were “pals of mine.” He went on to recount many of his most vivid memories of people, places, and events.
“Doc Watson, of course,” said McCutcheon. “I was lucky enough to share a bunch of festivals with Doc, a lovely guy, generous and heart-felt. I loved the man.”
He noted that the late American folk singer, songwriter, and banjo player Ola Belle Reed was from nearby Grassy Creek in Ashe County. “I met her back in the early 1970’s… she was a powerhouse of a musician, fantastic writer, and a lovely soul.”
McCutcheon fondly remembers The Cornlickers, “an old-time band around Banner Elk. I started playing the fiddle 50 years ago with Gil Adams, their fiddle player, and we crossed paths frequently back when they were first getting together.”
“Clarence Ashley, Clint Howard, and Fred Price were from nearby Mountain City, Tennessee. They were a huge influence on my playing, especially Clarence. Ray Hicks, one of the definitive Appalachian storytellers, was from Beech Mountain, NC and we did a bunch of storytelling festivals together.”
He continued by noting, “I have a banjo made by Clifford Glenn, patterned after those made by his father, Leonard Glenn.” And, lastly, McCutcheon recalled playing, “a number of times at Appalachian State over the years.”
Media praise for “Leap!,” John McCutcheon’s 43rd album in his 50 year career — released just last month — has been effusive.
“Here then is further proof of the fact that McCutcheon is not only a national treasure but an essential individual when it comes to passing a musical legacy forward towards the future. With those 43 albums behind him, one can only hope there are 43 more to come,” wrote the American Songwriter.
John McCutcheon proves again that his is one of the most creative, prolific, reliable, and satisfying of American folk music’s stalwarts. “Leap!” puts a big exclamation point on his already impressive legacy.
The concert is part of the Mast Store Americana Music Series on the Doc Watson Stage of the Appalachian Theatre. This series is an ongoing, year-round program of artists and events celebrating the genre unique to the country.
For tickets and more information on this event, or to join the theatre’s eblast list and purchase memberships, please visit the ATHC website at www.apptheatre.org.