World Reknown Singer Songwriter to offer workshop and concert at Garth Newel Music Center

Every once in a while, an opportunity comes up for musicians and songwriters in the immediate area that is one of a kind, and in this case free. Long-time nationally acclaimed singer songwriter John McCutcheon is offering a pre-concert songwriting workshop at four o’clock on Saturday June 3rd, and participants of all ages, and levels of experience are welcome there.

“I’m really glad to be coming back to Garth Newel because I used to live in the Charlottesville area, and would come over to Bath County pretty regularly to camp and go fishing, one of my favorite spots to come, so it’s nice to come back and play some music there.”

Garth Newel is known for its summer long chamber music series and its summer scholars, but the American Made series brings a new range of interest and talent.

I asked John McCutcheon what the songwriting workshop might be like.

“Two hours is enough to give a basic survey of what it takes to write a song.”

“And what do you hope to accomplish with the musicians who show up?”

“ To demythologize the process enough that it will hopefully ruin people’s ability to listen to stuff on the radio, because they can, kind of deconstruct it, understand the architecture, and they’ll say ‘I could do that.’

This workshop will give you enough of an entre into that world that you’ll be hungry for more. Two hours is not enough time to accomplish the whole journey. But it will give you enough of a peek behind the curtain to see how it’s done. “

He was encouraging to all ages and levels of experience, and described how young people often have boldness about what they are trying, while the more mature have more memories to draw from.

“You haven’t had the kind of experience a sixty-five year old has, but it doesn’t mean your experience is any less valid. So, I’ve been lucky in that I started writing songs when I was fourteen years old, and they were really terrible, but they served their purpose of helping me sort of figure out the world and my place in it, and stuff that was happening to me. You know, I kept at it, and I made every mistake there is to make twice, and I’m coachable. So, here I am all those year’s later, still being able to use that tool, and hopefully I’m a little better at it now.”

Quite a few you tube videos, and lists of tour venues, and recognitions, document that obviously he is. John now spends more of his summers offering songwriting workshops than touring for concerts, and Garth Newel is lucky to get some of both.

The more, I listened, the clearer it became, Mr. McCutcheon gives much more than a great performance.

“My whole goal is to turn a whole bunch of songwriters loose on the world because it’s a fun thing for people to do, and it also allows us to take control of our own entertainment. We need people to be chronicling the world from their own experience, and not just from the perspective of professionals. And I think whether it be art or politics, it’s too important to be left to the professionals. “

Here at Allegheny Mountain Radio, and community radio in general, that “taking control of your own entertainment” is part of the mission.   So, for any local songwriters, who join John McCutcheon on Saturday, we hope you’ll share results here. To listen to a second part of this conversation with him about Saturday’s event, please stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.



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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