For fifty years John McCutcheon has been a stalwart of the American folk music scene, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, storyteller, author, activist, union man. He was introduced to folk music as an 11-year-old watching the March on Washington on television. The wedding of art and activism captured him then and he’s spent the many years since exploring that union.
Besides being considered one of the world masters of the hammer dulcimer, John also plays guitar, banjo, fiddle, autoharp, piano, Jew’s harp, mountain dulcimer, and a host of other instruments he’s wise enough not to play in public. His songwriting has been internationally praised, his classic “Christmas in the Trenches” was mentioned as one of the One Hundred Essential Folksongs by Folk Alley.
He has toured internationally for decades with a unique blend of storytelling and music. “Folk music’s rustic renaissance man” is how the Washington Post described him. “Calling John McCutcheon a folksinger is like saying Deion Sanders is just a football player,” heralded the Dallas Morning News. But perhaps the most insightful description comes from John’s mentor and friend, Pete Seeger, “John McCutcheon is not only one of the best musicians in the USA, but also a great singer, songwriter, and song leader. And not just incidentally, he is committed to helping hard-working people everywhere to organize and push this world in a better direction.”
A lifelong unionist, he is one of the co-founders of Local 1000 and served as president 1997-2012. He currently serves as the chair of the Fair Trade Music committee and also is on the executive board of the Atlanta Musicians Union (AFM 148-462).
He is the recipient of the Joe Hill Award from the Labor Heritage Foundation and the Utah Phillips Lifetime Service to Labor Award from Local 1000.