Saturday March 1, 2008
: "Mc" Last names
THANKS SO MUCH to the
management for accommodating my health issues which allow me to
to volunteer Saturday mornings
Folk Plus is hosted and planned by
Page and airs Saturdays
from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on WJFF
at 90.5 fm in Jeffersonville, N.Y. and 94.5 in Monticello N.Y. We are
Public Radio and stream online at WWW.WJFFRADIO.ORG Come
station at our open house the first Saturday of every month. Welcome
new web listeners, especially those battling illness or who are
and bring you the music that
Today's theme was prompted by the fact taht John McCutcheon is playing
next firday locally. We spoke shortly after noon about
travelling, visiting the White House, his college days, and writing
If you are interested in
hearing the interview at the website until Saturday March 15 it will be
http://www.wjffradio.org on archive page for March 1 Folk Plus. Run to
about 110 minutes into the show until about 135 mintues. The final few
minutes is a live intro of Our Flag Was Still there which others could
use at their stations.
1. Dan McKinnon- Kith and Kin
Fields of Dreams and Glory - danmckinnon.ca
2. Lori McKenna - Ruby's Shoes
Paper Wings and halo - lorimckenna.com
3. McGarrigles - Talk to Me of Mendocino
McGarrigle Hour- Hannibal/ Rykodisc
4. Eileen McGann - Bonnie Susan Cleland
Beyond the Storm - DragonWing Music- eileenmcgann.net
5. Dougie Maclean - Ready for the Storm
From the End of the Earth - Dunkeld Records
6. Carol McComb - Look at the Moon 326
Little Bit of Heaven - Hazelwood Records - carolmccomb.com
6. Kate McDonnell - Mercy
Where the Mangoes Are - Appleseed
7. Rod MacDonald - Every Living Thing
No Commercial Traffic - RodmacDonald.ent
8. The McKrells - Always
Cosmic hayride - Kmckrell.com
9. Lisa McCormick - Bored
Lisa McCormick - Rising Records
10. Loreena McKennitt - Mummers' Dance
Live in Paris and Toronto - Valley Entertainment
11. Micheal McNevin - Secondhand Story
Secondhand Story - Mudpuccle Music
510 794 9953 give him a call
12. Suzanne McDermott - Roswell Incident
Ephemera - Rosema Red Records
13. Mary McCaslin - Way Out West
Way out West - Philo
Interview with John McCutcheon
I asked if he was at the Folk
Alliance conference in Memphis last weekend, and he was. Eliza
Gilkyson's commented while there about singers being "the eyes
of the street" I asked
about the feeling of people politically what do you hear, county to
country, state to state? Are we just feeling dyer only here in
Sullivan County or what?
"Well, I think, right now of course with the presidential election
process going on and the unusual nature of it there is a lot more
attention being paid that I see, really, all over the world. People in
other countries are just facinated that we have on one side a
woman and an African American locked in a battle for the nomination. It
seems both quintesentially american and the most unusaly american
thing. It's just never happened before, all of sudden we're going thro
two big political taboos all at once. And around the country
yeah, I mean there is a dyer sense of what in the world has happening
here. In terms of the economy and the war, there is a sense there is a
disconnect from people in power to people in homes and work places, on
main street, and in their fields. So at same time among a large
part of country, theres this sense of hope, that there are
possibilities. Obviously the changes that are coming, no matter
what happens, are going to be better than where we are.
John: And theres a lot of people have this real sense, that there is a
possibility that we can do these things and that after 16 years of
polarization, there are some solutions for living in a Re-united states
Angela: Yeah the polariztion
is so damaging. :" I asked spoke about Folk Alliance asking about the
Eliza made a comment about musicians changing their own lives in order
to bring about societal change....what are your personal changes and he
focused on simply doing this kind of work, period.
John: The fact that we do this kind of work is the most unusual and
unexpected kind of trade. It's a very old trade, but in a period of
time in which people went to college to learn a trade. It was the death
of liberal arts education when I went to college.
Angela: What did you focus on in college?
John: I leanred to play the banjo.
John: (I was distracted)
Angela: It worked for Pete Seeger.
John: I went to a small college in the upper mid west. It was
enough that they knew the studnets and had a clear-eyed idea of
possibilities and weren't willing to take chances. I went there like
everybody else thinking, Oh I'd love to play music, but no, thats
not realistic, I will have to be a choir director or a mucic educator
of some sort, cuz you have to have a trade. I realized after a couple
of years of sitting around and reading everything I could get my hands
on, and going to concerts that were free to college students - I
mean every kind of concert, ragtime, beethoven - there was an
expert on Beethoven, who every sunday gave a recital, cuz i didnt grow
up wtih that kind of thing, this was all about drinking in life in big
gulps and there was something that happened to me whenever I went to l
live performances. I just decided that this sort of tranformative thing
that can happen when people get in little dark rooms together and are
able to able to suspend their own lives,and occupy somebody else's life
in little three and four minute bites in some way also invests us
deeper in our own lives. I just wanted to be a part of that. Plus I
loved palying music. One day a couple of years later I found, oh my
goodness, I'm making all my money involved in music somehow. I was 20
years old doing anything I could to pay bills. I was giving lessons,
playing schools, playing concerts in evening when people would put up
with me. I had no family, heck i was 20 years old, I was supposed to be
taking chances, falling on my ass, and getting right back up. And now,
35 years later, I have no other skills. This is what I do now.
Angela: But, John, you are pretty top heavy in those
John: Well Ive been lucky. I had that long period of woodsheedding,
when i could take the chance of listening to peoples stories and
turning them into songs. Listening to old banjo players, listening to
stories of what peole had done in their lives whether it be working in
coal mines, farming 200 acres of winter wheat in kansas or tying to
catch enough salmon to fee dtheir family and provide the rest of the
world with food.
Angela: You do a lot of
peacework with your singing....we have extremely active peace activists
listening to this station.
John: Somewhere along the line people somehow lost sight of the fact
that there are ways in which you build a foundational support system
for communities. We learn it in our work places, and in our families,
somehow when we take it out to the global world, we revert back to old
models that have been disproved. I mean if war actaully solved problems
we would have done away with war along ago, along with our problems.
The point of war of course, is not peace, the point of war is victory.
It doesn't solve the problems it puts them under wraps, or
silences them for a while. So, Im not necessarily ideological
passivist, I just think that at most times it is the better way to
solve our pro lems. I was born in 1952, so I was comign of age during
the civil rights movement. And one of the greatest lessons we
Angela: Where were you living?
John: I was living in Wisconsin, where the only black man I knew was
Henry Aaron who played for the braves.
Angela: So whats the problem, right? (laughing)
John: What we all learned at that time, was if you fight the man with
the man's weapon, the man is going to kill you. But if you fight the
man with weapons he doesn't understand, then you have gained the upper
ground. If people had gone into the streets with guns to try to win
civil rights, we'd still be swimming in separate pools. But when the
moral power of the argument was demonstration, make no mistake, there
there was violence directed at people trying to change things, it gave
us a different way of resolving issues. But we've kinda lost our
way since then. People out there remind us of the lessons learned.
Those are the people where I wanna tell their stories and support their
work. Its pretty easy to go into a town and be charming for a couple of
hours up on stage, but the hard work of building our communities is
left to people who rarely get the standing ovations.
Angela Yes! Good point.
John: So if I can tell their stories and sing songs about the work that
they do and make them palatable for people who might not otherwise not
be interested in hearing them, and use humor and pathos and history and
making connections, then I've done my job.
Angela : "I love when you use history..." I asked about how Christmas in Trenches earned him a trip to
the White House.
John: "I wrote this song about 25 years ago. From the very
beginning I was looking for a way that children might come to know the
story. After many years trying to push the story to children's
book publishers Peachtree publishers agreed and paired me with a
fabulous award-winning oil painter from Denmark named Harry
Sorenson. Together we wrote this book. I wrote it, he
illustrated it: Christmas in the Trenches. Last year I was one of 70
authors chosen to be featured at the National Book Festival which was
created and hosted by Laura Bush, who in an earlier life was, a lot of
people would be interested to know, was a liberal, democrat.....
Angela: Librarian (Angela is one herself)
John: ... librarian. Which makes me kinda wonder how they met. The
librarian of Congess Dr. James Billington invited me to be part of
this- and one of the things was breakfast at the White House, so i got
to visit the house that we actually all own.
Anglea: Thats right
John: The current resident was not there, but Laura was there, as well
as 69 other pretty great authors, it was really great fun to have
Angela: Has she read all 70?
John: No idea, but i did sign a copy fo the book for them thinking it
was probably a story it would be good for them to know.
Angela: Who are you following in the folk world- up and coming folks...
John: "Theres a lot of amazing new people out
there. Eliza of course is not new but she certainly is wonderful.
Relatively speaking shes new to the folk world. But I've always loved
the work of Dan Bern. Theres a wonderful woman up in Canada named Amber
Swift who has some wonderful albums out there now. I cut my teeth
playing old time music. When I was going to that Upper Midwestern
college I played the banjo and realized soon enough that I was going to
have to go elsewhere if I wanted to ge around banjo players. So
for a big chunk of my formative years I played old time banjo and
fiddle- I've always loved that music, so groups like Carolina Chocolate
Drops, Uncle Earl, Mammals - they are kinda from up in your area
Angela: Oh yeah
John: And the horsefilies, love the horsefilies. So... people who are
rooted in old time music but also admit that they grew up
listening to alot of other stuff. .. giving them all kinda of idea s of
how to teat this Ive never been one to treat this - Ive never been one
to treat this music like its precious, it is in fact an evolving kinda
music, so its not under glass, didnt want to treat it like that. So as
long as you have an understanding and respect for the tradiaiton and
your able to incorportate the other influences you grew up with it
seems normal and right.
Angela: So when youre driving to gigs, thats
what you're listening to?
John: Some. I've got a huge collection of CDs. What have I been
listening to lately.. oh theres a great collection of Hobart Smith,
came out on Smithsonian... called In Sacred Trust... a bunch of
tapes that Flemming Brown made, gosh, 45 years ago now. Ive been
listening a lot to Steve Earl's new album, Washington Square Serenade
which i think is one of the most - won the grammy for contemporary folk
this year - it's one of the most brilliant new albums I've heard in
Angela: "Things that win Grammys we dont get sent to the station.. we
have to beg for that"
John: Yeah thats on some major label. Its a great great album. I
live in a town that the country group Sugarland lives in. I know
Christian and Jennifer and I've been listening to a bunch of their
stuff, which is new mainstream country music. and I've been
listening to sacred harp stuff and all kinds of wacky stuff.
Angela : "I always like to ask people what their next song idea
is, something just crystalizing...something not rolling yet, but a seed"
John: Almost a year ago now, I did a trip to Chile, something I
always wanted to do. working with a womens health group I was
introduced to by a woman who lived in Albany. actually. So I've been
doing some fund raising for this particular group I went down to visit
old friends in a wonderful chilean band, En Chilemane
who happened to live in exile during Pinochet dictatorship.
And I went down there
and visited Pablo Neruda's home in East Lanegra?
hes alwasy been my favorite poet. I also fell in with this woman
(sounded like) favio eteveuh ??? who was the lead human
rights lawyer in Chile, and shes busy, beleive me. She
kinda took me on a tour of the country, a human rights tour of Chile,
there are lots of places to go. So I've been writing some stuff about
Angela: That sounds like a whole album
..... each case.
John: It could be, it would be a pretty somber album. But I also have
been , believe it or not, I'm in the process of writing a Mass. I just
finished a baseball album, which is coming out on opening day, shortly
after I'm there in Walton. I grew up Catholic and love classical music.
So many of the great composers, all the way down to Leonard Bernstain
who of course was Jewish, wrote masses, using the
liturgical form of the
catholic church. So I've been taking some songs that sort of fit that
mold and ordering them together, seeing where the holes are and
what needs to be done and having a whole new look in this kind of
twentieth century spirituality that we've all amalgumated ... and
thinking how can you take that form and make it apporpirate to
across a lot of different religously experimental and experiential
Anglea: Ill listen for that.. see if it happens.
John: It's one of those project, like learning to play the sweedish
harp a keyed sweedish fiddle which I've been sawing away at
recently. If it doesn't get done its not
as though I've failed, but it keeps the wheels greased.
Angie: I want to compliment you on grabbing such a clever URL .. You
grabbed "FolkMusic.com" how smart is that" he
John: "Thank you but I have to say. There was a guy who bugged me for
years abouot having a website and I was really reluctant. I had kids
that grew up sort sucked into that virtual void, I thought I dont want
to encourage people to do soemthing that encourages them to sit in
front of their computers. That shows you how much of a neo-luddite I
Eventually i go the idea. He showed up at a show i did in baltimore,
in 1995, opened up his laptop, clicked a button and said, "I've set up
your website. Here is what it looks like. ITs a great organizing tool.
He used the O word. He knew
he got me then. And he said, I've got the best address, nobody
Anglea: When I saw that, I thought, 'how brilliant'
John: So he was the brilliant one. He snagged that for me. I've been
hundreds of dollars for it.
Angela: Yeah no kidding. He should have gotten that from you. I thought
were gonna tell me he said "and its yours for a grand"
--To end the interview I asked him to live intro a cut, and we would go
out on that.--
I didn't have a CD with a hammered dulcimer cut he wanted so he made
John: I tell you what. Lets go to Mightier Than the Sword - another
album, as I said, I've just done a baseball
album. Mightier than the Sword, is an album
project of songs I co-wrote with
some of my favorite authors. People like Barbara Kingsolver,
Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, Lee Smith, Carmen Agra Deedy, Sister
Prejean, and some newly complete Woody Guthrie songs.
The lead cut is 'Our Flag Is Still There'. This is a song that I wrote
with Barbara Kingsolver, an old friend of mine, based on an old
essay. Actually it was the title that was the part that inspired
the song. In her book Small Wonder I saw the title
for this essay and I thought, this is a phrase - Our Flag was Still
There- that I have seen my whole life, but I've never seen it removed
from it's context in the national anthem- io thought thats a great song
title, then I read the essay, which was essentially decrying the fact
that a very small portion of the polical landscape has laid claim
to the symbols of our country to the point where progressives
feel uncomfortable somehow with our flag. I thought that this is
essentially wrong. Nobody gets to dictate what being a patriot
means. This is a country that was born of dissent, and there is
nothing treasonous about dissent in a democrcy. So Barbara and I
got together and wrote this song.
14. John McCutcheon - OurFlag Was Still There
Mightier Than the Sword - Appalsongs
15. Laurie McClain - I Wanna be like You
The Child Behind My Eyes - Kindred Voices Music
16. The McDades - Ma Bonne dame
Bloom - themcdades.com
17. Kate MacLeod - Lark in the Morning
Trying to Get it Right - Waterbug
18. Andre McKnight - Letter to Colonel Mosby
Turning Pages - Falling Mtn
19 Kathy McMearty - Mr Feasbale
Mr Feasable -firstname.lastname@example.org
20 Natlie MacMaster - nJig party
BluePrint - ViK