Part 2, John McCutcheon at Garth Newel

Late last week, I spoke with singer/songwriter John McCutcheon who will be playing and coaching at Garth Newel Music Center on Saturday, June 3rd.   We finished up talking about the free songwriting workshop he is offering, and moved on to what the concert holds.

“It think it’s great that Garth Newel understands the importance of the workshops as well, that it’s not just about somebody up there exhibiting their skills and their craft, but it’s also an opportunity for people to get to know the artist a little bit better. Of course that’s one of the advantages of the workshop, and you get to get a little picture into not only how that person creates their work, but also how you might be able to participate in it as well, and in the end, that’s a win-win for everybody.”

My own hope is local songwriters will generously share their work with Allegheny Mountain Radio after polishing it up that afternoon at Garth Newel. Then I asked what the concert might be like.

“I’ll have a couple of guitars, a six-string and a twelve string, and a fiddle and a banjo and an auto harp, and a hammer dulcimer, and they’ll have a piano there for me, this being Garth Newel.”

John McCutcheon’s art is rooted in traditional instruments familiar in the mountains, and all the old stories and songs accompanying them.

“I still love those. I still play some of those. I mostly play songs I write. There will be everything from love songs, to kid songs to historical songs, to songs inspired by the day’s news; and I’ll tell a bunch of stories.”

Many of us are getting so familiar with current news stories about big corporations, I just had to ask about one of his songs from2011, “Corporations are People too.”


John McCutcheon was happy to explain how a song like that comes into being.

“Well you know, one of the things that has, as long as satire, which is usually clothed in humor has been around- it’s a great power equalizer. And it also let’s off steam. If you’re in a really tough situation, and everything is dire, dire, dire twenty-four seven, it’s eventually going to beat you down.

“It’s ok to laugh, and in fact, we need to. We need to have that spectrum of emotion, and I’ve explored it a lot, and find it’s helpful.”

For more information on the free songwriting workshop which starts at 4:00 Saturday, June 3rd or the optional picnic, and the first concert in the American Made series, please contact Garth Newel Music Center.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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