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John McCutcheon

Known best for his prolific work in the field of children's music, John McCutcheon has consistently produced both quality children's albums and folk albums since the early '70s. McCutcheon is first and foremost an instrumentalist. Like thousands of others in the '60s, McCutcheon, a Wisconsin native, taught himself how to play a mail-order guitar and joined the local folk scene. His interest became more serious, however, when he sought to find the roots of this music. McCutcheon headed for Appalachia and learned from some of the legendary greats of traditional folk music. Along the way, he became adept at a multitude of instruments, including fiddle, banjo, guitar, autoharp, jaw harp, and especially the hammered dulcimer. McCutcheon is considered one of the undisputed masters on the hammered dulcimer and adapts much of his music around the instrument.

As a new father, McCutcheon found most children's music "unmusical and condescending." In 1983, he sought to remedy the situation with his first release for Rounder, Howjadoo. McCutcheon thought that Howjadoo would be the only children's record he would make. But the critical acclaim for Howjadoo was such that several other children's albums followed. McCutcheon's 1988 release Mail Myself to You featured several songs by classic folk composers such as Woody Guthrie and Malvina Reynolds. In the hands of McCutcheon, these old songs gained new luster. Family Garden followed in 1993, with several original tunes including the evocative "Baseball on the Block." McCutcheon also turned to producing and, on the Rounder label, encouraged other folk and world musicians to address children as an audience. He created the 1992 Rounder release Rainbow Sign to benefit the Grassroots Leadership, a community-building non-profit organization in the South. In 1997, McCutcheon produced two storytelling compilations to again benefit the Grassroots Leadership.

McCutcheon started a new series of children's albums in 1995 with the release of Summersongs. The album featured several tunes about the daily life of kids, with songs like "Power Mower" and "Haircut." Later that same year, Rounder released the second album in the series, Wintersongs. Again, the recording featured several cuts about the common joys of winter, including "Soup" and "Hot Chocolate." The most popular song on the album, however, was the easily imagined "Tommy Don't Lick That Pipe," written by McCutcheon and his longtime friend Si Kahn. Wintersongs was nominated for a Grammy in 1996. Storied Ground followed three years later. The time between albums reinvigorated the singer/songwriter, and in 2001 he followed it up with Supper's on the Table... Filled with more socially conscious lyrics, the album had the look and feel of an old-time folk record. The next year, a more contemporary-minded McCutcheon put out The Greatest Story Never Told on Red House Records.

It was four years before McCutcheon released another full-length album. 2006's Mightier Than the Sword was a literary effort, featuring collaborations with contemporary poets and fiction writers such as Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, and Barbara Kingsolver. McCutcheon also came out with a children's audio book that year called Christmas in the Trenches, which went on to garner a Grammy nomination in the children's spoken word category. Hail to the Chief! and Stand Up!: Broadsides for Our Times came out the following year. ~ P.J. Swift
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Mightier Than The Sword

1. Our Flag Was Still There

2. La Mujer De Don Miguel

3. Claudette Colvin Goes To Work

4. Good Ole Girls

5. Dead Man Walking

6. Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca

7. Harness Up The Day

8. Single Girl

9. Sail Away

10. Old Cap Moore

11. Para Mi Corazon Basta Tu Pecho

12. Ites The Economy, Stupid

13. Jaber Crowes Silly Song About Jesus

14. Ode To Common Things

x

Track List: The Greatest Store Never Told

1. Greatest Story Never Told

2. Ghosts Of The Good Old Days

3. Dancing In The Street

4. Last First Kiss

5. Barbershop

6. Children Of Abraham

7. Extend A Hand

8. Follow The Light

9. Not In My Name

10. When I Grow Up

11. Used To Be

12. Walk On Water

13. One In A Milion

x

Track List: Supper's On The Table...

1. Immigrant

2. Who'll Rock The Cradle

3. Mending Fences

4. Calling All The Children Home

5. Labor Day

6. Dead Man Walking

7. Leviathan

8. The Principle

10. Jericho

11. Snow In April

12. Memory Of Old Jack

13. Happy Adoption Day

14. Soup

15. Closing The Bookstore

16. Meteors/The Perseid

x

Track List: Nothing To Lose

1. Leftovers

2. Each Season It's The Same

3. Way It's Supposed To Be

4. Walk On

5. The Memory Of Old Jack

6. Nothing To Lose

7. Losers Like You

8. Here On The Islands

9. Paint Me A Picture

10. Lefty's Bar Tonight

11. My Old Man

12. Wish You Goodnight

x

Track List: Four Seasons: Summersongs

1. Swimming Hole

2. Mud

3. Haircut

4. Meteors / The Perseid

5. Kid Who Hates Summer

6. Dad And Me

7. Camping In The Wilderness

8. Ice Cream Man

9. Power Mower

10. Riding My Bike

11. Own Backyard

12. I Love Summer

x

Track List: Family Garden

1. Little White Star

2. Family Garden

3. Imaginary Friend

4. Phobias

5. Baseball On The Block

6. Family Revival

7. How Many People

8. Traveling In The Wilderness

9. Watermelon

10. Happy Adoption Day

11. Dad's Got That Look

12. If I Ran The World

13. Is My Family

x

Track List: Water From Another Time

1. The Great Storm Is Over

2. Little Pink

3. Reel A Bouche

4. Rubber Blubber Whale

5. Planxty George Brabazon

6. Christmas In The Trenches

7. Caught In The Crossfire

8. Back Side Of Albany / Cooley's Reel

9. Wild Rose Of The Mountain / Wild Rose Of The Mountain

10. Water From Another Time

11. The Red Corvette

12. Loggerman's Breakdown / Dulcimer Reel

13. Cut The Cake

14. One Strong Arm

15. For Unto Us A Child Is Born

16. Featherbed

17. No Mas!

18. Step By Step

19. How Can I Keep From Singing?

20. Kindergarten Wall

x

Track List: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

1. Wind That Shakes The Barley, Morpeth's Rant, Staten Island

2. Planxty George Brabazon, Si Bheag Si Mhor

3. Every Bush And Tree

4. Dallas Rag

5. Jesus, Joy Of Man's Desiring

6. Carter Store Medley: Wildwood Flower, Red Wing, Wake Up Susan, Temperance Reel

7. Sculley's Reel, Morrison's Jig

8. If I Were A Featherbed

9. St. Anne's Reel, Cricket On The Hearth, Kitchen Girl, Mississippi Sawyer

10. Sally In The Garden, Wild Rose Of The Mountain

11. Who Will Sing For Me?

12. Hangman's Reel, Campbell's Farewell To Red Gap

13. Greensleeves

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Thank you so very much for doing this work. Pete would be proud.
Report as inappropriate
"Christmas in the Trenches"... . a perfectly crafted song. Not one word could replaced or improved. It commemorates the WWI 1914 Christmas Truce, brought about by the soldiers in the Trenches, sharing songs and exchanging small gifts and photographs from home. Released in the early 1980's, the Truce was not well-known at the time and I firmly believe this song contributed to the story making it's way into the public consciousnes s . It is also an achingly evocative commentary on the ultimate futili
Report as inappropriate
Known best for his children's music? I don't agree! He's been playing sold-out concerts for adult audiences since the 1970's. I know; I've been in them for that long. Take a look at his tour schedule.
Report as inappropriate
Jim Fyhrie was a friend of mine before he moved away from Laguna Beach... He played the most amazingly beautiful and hauntingly peaceful dulcimer music I've ever heard... I wish I was able to purchase ALL his CDs' before he left town...
Report as inappropriate
scott_ries
I listened to and enjoyed Autumnsongs when my kids were younger- an excellent musician with a dry sense of humor. His best for me is Winter Solstice, from the early 80s- still my favorite holiday album.
Report as inappropriate
Excellent musician
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cebrent5
I've had Water from Another Time for a long time. I never knew that he was so popular!
Report as inappropriate
mushlymush
I play the hammered dulcimer...a n d I also love to listen to people that know how to jam one!
Report as inappropriate
blevenson1
I discovered John when I heard him at St. John's University when I was in the 6th grade. I have attended numerous concerts of his since then and I can't get enough of his music.
Report as inappropriate
I heard this man live at our local college... he is quite the story teller as well as a very talented musician. Not to mention he is a very approachable person.
Report as inappropriate
Got hooked on John when I picked up Suppers on the Table a few years ago. Great album.
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john.arden
John is the model of the latter day singer-songw r i t e r (dare we say "folkie"?) He is a master musician on hammered dulcimer, guitar, banjo, fiddle, and piano. He has a rich, expressive voice. He is steeped in traditional folk music, but writes funny and wise topical songs. In concert, John is a humorous story teller. Best of all, he uses his gifts to promote progressive social causes. John is the entire package.
Report as inappropriate
You rock John!

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