It seems hardly possible that it’s already December. I’m more than ready for this year to be history, but marvel that it slipped by so quickly. When I was a kid I thought recess would never arrive. Now, suddenly overnight, all the grandkids are ambulatory, I have a completely unexpected recording out, and we’re somehow toddling along into 2018.
November was a whirlwind of visits to familiar joints: from Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza in Worthington, OH to the Ark, to Defiance, OH, to Goshen, IN, to Old Songs, to the Sounding Board. At the tail end of the touring I landed for the first time at the wonderful Next Stage Theater, in Putney, VT, awash with old friends and inspiring community support. A great way to end a busy touring season.
December is relaxed, as it always is when I’m not mounting a Christmas show. Tomorrow I’m in Appleton, WI for a quick visit and then at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN for a pair of shows before I head up to Harlan County, KY for my annual end-of-the-year fireside show at the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Surrounded by the hills I love, it is, each year, the beginning of Christmas in my heart.
January, of course, is Groundhog Day: my thirty-something-th annual Left Coast Tour. It’d down-right Pavlovian at this point. “If it’s January, it must be time for McCutcheon.” It’s a lovely tradition and I’m eager to visit halls-full of audiences that feel more like family than fans. I’ll be doing lots of material from Ghost Light, at the same time that the Trolling for Dreams songs still feel surprisingly fresh. Check out the touring schedule below to see if I’m near you.
I’m trying hard to settle into “retirement,” whatever that means to someone who loves their job as much as I do. Sure, I’m collecting my union pension now and all the diabolically-constructed confusion about health care is in my rear-view mirror, and guys with grey hair call me “sir.” But I keep writing new stuff (it’s my job, for crying out loud!), cooking up new projects, and have yet to feel a waning of energy or passion. I do plan on cutting my touring by about half in the next year, allowing me to spend more time with my family, and stay limber enough to coach Sam’s little league team in about five years. That’s when another kind of schedule will dominate my life.
In the meantime, though, there are small victories to celebrate, buffoonery to lampoon, fiddle tunes to be played, and stages in towns across the world to mount for a few, blest hours each night. May we meet there soon! Thanks for your interest and sparing this monthly missive from landing in your spam folder. See you in the New Year. Until then, may you have a wonderful season that celebrates whatever holiday you love.
Flowers for Sarajevo
Flowers for Sarajevo, my latest picture book, has been generously honored this year. Both School Library Journal and Kirkus give the book starred reviews, we’ve gotten lovely mentions and reviews in loads of other places and Parents Choice gave it their coveted Gold award.
During their end-of-year roundups, both Kirkus and the New York Public Library placed Sarajevo on their “Best of 2017” lists. (I’ll be quick to mention that Carmen’s The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet is also on these lists…and many more. It’s a terrific book that you all should check out.)
This is a book that, like Christmas in the Trenches, began as a song that told an historical story. And, like Christmas, it was a story that I thought kids should grow up knowing. Stories are those clues into who and what we are. We tell them both to discover and remind ourselves of whom we might be and become. Especially in this time, rife with ugliness and violence of all sorts, stories like this might give additional tools to our children as they learn to navigate the rocky shoals of this world.
Click here for more information and ordering.
Ghost Light is now out and, despite the fact that the official release date is not for over two months, the first reviews are appearing.
“Ghost Light, it is yet again a true tour-de-force of his writing abilities. With each of the 13 new songs covering all the bases of our own lives: love, aging, changing times, faith, grand babies dancing, redemption, and more, Ghost Light tells stories packed with real emotive expression…a stunning album.”
Thanks to all of you who helped this recording find its way into the world. I’m already working on my next project (big news about that next month!). In the meantime, if you’re still looking for a cool Christmas/Hannukah gift for someone, that you can’t get anywhere else, click here.
There are still a small handful of spots left in each of my Songwriting Camps at Highlander. These will absolutely disappear during my Left Coast Tour in January, if not before as people tend to give these as Christmas gifts. If you’re considering coming, best act quickly. ‘Cause once the twentieth slot is filled, the “no vacancy” sign goes up.
The sessions are scheduled for
May 20-24, 2018 and June 24-28, 2018
Click here for more information. The $150 deposit holds your spot. No further payment is required until next April.
Hope to see you at Highlander!
John McCutcheon Still on Tour!
Freight & Salvage
2020 Addison St., Berkeley, California, United States
Walnut Creek, CA Devil Mountain Coffeehouse
Mt. Diablo UU Church
55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, California, United States
(925) 934-3135Buy Tickets
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
1075 East 20th Street, Chico, California, United States
476 First Street East, Sonoma, California, United States
Modesto Church of the Brethren
2301 Woodland Avenue, Modesto, California, United States
UU Church of Fresno
2672 East Alluvial Ave, Fresno, California, United States
Grass Valley, CA
Don Baggett Theater
Nevada Union High School 11761 Ridge Road, Grass Valley, California, United States
Santa Cruz, CA
1205 Soquel Avenue
The Palms Playhouse
13 Main Street, Winters, California, United States
St. James Episcopal Church
37051 Cabrillo Terrace, Fremont, California, United States
515-B North McDonough Street, Decatur, Georgia, United States
Cherry Log, GA
Chattahoochee National Forest 186 Fred Craddock Dr,, Cherry Log, Georgia, United States
(706) 632-1772Buy Tickets
Daytona Beach, FL
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University 600 South Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida, United States
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
1050 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, United States
(904) 209-0399Buy Tickets
St. Petersburg, FL
2955 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
Port Charlotte, FL
Riverwood Activity Center
4100 Riverwood Drive, Port Charlotte, Florida, United States
6 on the Square
6 Lafayette Park, Oxford, New York, United States
Golden Link Folk Singing Society
Rochester Christian Reformed Church 2750 Atlantic Ave, Penfield, New York, United States