23 Apr 2023
Some of the entertainment that has been showing up on the Outer Banks has been truly world class. That latest example was John McCutcheon—folksinger, composer, story-teller, musician.
It was an amazing performance he brought to the stage on Saturday night at St. Andrews by the Sea Episcopal Church in Nags Head on Saturday evening.
McCutcheon had been performing for over 50 years and it was apparent that the joy he felt in getting up in front of a live audience was still very much a part of who he is.
What he brought to the stage was an encyclopedic knowledge of folk music and many of the people who brought the tunes to life over the year. his performance was much more than that, though.
In particular, he played a hammer dulcimer so well that the best description is jaw-dropping. Usually thought as an accompanying instrument in traditional country and bluegrass tunes, McCutcheon stood that notion on its head with what can only be described as a virtuoso performance. At one point he played the solo of a piece he had composed for hammer dulcimer and orchestra. Stunning…absolutely stunning.
He is also a master storyteller, and much of what hse tells is through the lens of humor…but not all of it. He told the story of a day in Sarajevo that was at that time Yugoslavia, now Bosnia and Herzegovina. The day the last bakery of the city was destroyed during the civil war wracked the country…and the cellist, Vedran Smailović who became known as the Cellist of Sarajevo, who performed at the ruins of the bakery for 20 straight days, braving the potential of snipers who filled the surrounding hills and mountains.
He talked about Pete Seeger, who he had also known and befriended, and many other musicians.
It created truly wonderful evening of music and memories.