1025 Locust Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22901
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 12/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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John McCutcheon is a man of many talents. Foremost is his ability to write songs celebrating the nobility of the working class without drifting into the quagmire of unctuousness. His latest release is replete with social commentaries blanketing a multitude of subjects, with the little guy sometimes winning but also sometimes falling prey to economic, social, racial, and class injustices. And check it out, he even lines up shoulder-to-shoulder with Nancy Reagan on one cut! John, I guess we hardly knew ye!
Brimming with percussion, bass and mandolin, "Jericho," is the opener, describing the actions people have bravely taken both individually and collectively over the years to change their lot and, ultimately, society for the better. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to see the larger context and perspective, a la Rosa Parks' refusal to head to the back of the bus for a seat. Tired feet, intentionally or unintentionally, produced an act of revolution, and as McCutcheon puts it:
...Marv Albert in the motel
The face of Jesus on Mars
Another story 'bout the Kennedys
Liz Taylor's scars
Elvis at the Dairy Queen
Jerry Springer anywhere
Sonny Bono on the ski hill..."
...In a school in Pennsylvania
In a school in Arkansas
In a school in Kentucky
In cities large and small
In a school in California
In a school in Oregon
Where do they get the violence?
Where do they get the guns?..."
Some big concern comes in and yanks
Our jobs, our shops, our hometown banks
Then they expect our grateful thanks
It happens everyday
I guess I just prefer to see
Success serve our community
Not just some wealthy VIP
Who lives a thousand miles away...
So take a minute and look around
There are corner shops in every town
Squeezed and pushed and hunkered down
And battered by the blows
No, they might not be shiny or bright or new
But they're run by folks like me and you
Now I can't tell you what to do
But me?...I'm gonna shop at those..."
It's a common thread that binds us
And our work will never cease
Till we stitch this world together piece by piece"
In McCutcheon's world, it is personal values and actions, not inherited endowments, stock options or financial bottom lines that define worthiness. Amen.
McCutcheon, on vocals, 6 and 12-string guitar, banjo and didgeridoo, is backed by J.T. Brown on bass and harmony vocals; T.J. Johnson on mandolin; Art Wheeler on piano and organ; Robert "Jos" Jospe on drums and percussion; Pete Kennedy on electric guitar; Michael Aharon on cello; Mike Crotty on saxophone; Bruce Molsky on fiddle; Mike Munford on banjo; and Moondi Klein on harmony vocals.
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