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John McCutcheon tonight in Santa Cruz

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Folksinger/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon is having his annual concert in Santa Cruz tonight, at the First Congregational Church, at 900 High St.; starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $16-$25 sliding scale at the door. I'm planning to attend.

He'll also be having a kids' concert tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., same place.

The concerts are benefits for the Resource Center for Nonviolence (which is entering its 30th anniversary year).

His concerts that I've attended in the past have been mixed--some of them wonderful, some just okay. In general, I'm not as fond of his more recent songs as of his older stuff. But I haven't been in a couple of years, so I'm gonna give it another try.

In case you're not familiar with McCutcheon, he's recorded 30 albums over the past 30 years, ranging from traditional Appalachian songs to hammer dulcimer instrumental stuff to light rock to kids' music to topical political stuff (often about unions and working-class people). He plays a remarkable variety of instruments (guitar, piano, hammer dulcimer, autoharp, banjo, fiddle, etc), and on rare occasions even "plays his body" in the hambone style. You can hear clips on the iTunes music store, or by following links from his list of albums.

Here are some of his songs I particularly like, at the iTunes Music Store (most, but not all, written by him):

Half of those are from his 1990 album What It's Like, by far my favorite of his albums. (A friend once listened to the first song on that album, which is about a homesick trucker, and said she didn't like McCutcheon because he wasn't political enough. Which amused me no end, because he's one of the most political songwriters I know of, and it's a particularly political album, featuring songs about unions and workers; it just happens that a couple of the songs on the album are love songs.)

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My parents are huge McCutcheon fans, so I was raised with him. One of my goals in life is to become half as good at the hammered dulcimer as he is. Holy crap. o.O


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