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Back in the Sixth Row, Right Side

Back in the Sixth Row, Right Side – McCutcheon, Red Tail Ring Review – Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday, 2020

John McCutcheon 2020

From where I sat the show surprised me. From the opening “Rank Stranger” by Ralph Stanley to the closing “Come on People” by the Youngbloods, every song felt like something new. John had fun playing on his new hammered dulcimer and showed us how it could sing. Accompanied by his new autoharp, John, Red Tail Ring, and the whole audience sang out on Bob Franke’s “The Great Storm Is Over.” How about when Laurel and John accompanied themselves on fiddle and Jew’s Harp – amazing!

What a Show! John sang a new, unrecorded song, “Hello Mother,” that touched a lot of hearts. Then there was Laurel and John’s version of “Shady Grove” played on both of their fiddles – just amazing! Michael told us that he wrote his song “Last Night Forever” in Norway when he had nothing to do – a beautiful love song.

Old favorites, “Room at the Top of the Stairs,” “Happy Adoption Day” (John has met so may wonderful people since he wrote that song), “Featherbed” (accompanied on hammered dulcimer) rang so true with the audience. “Christmas in the Trenches” told by the WWI soldier sure made us think about terribleness of war.

This show had a richness brought on by the beautiful, three-part harmonies of John, and Red Tail Ring (Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp-Cohen) singing together. Laurel and Michael’s harmonies blended so well – it’s their thing – on their new “Fall Away Blues” and other songs including “Working on a Building.” The “trio” received a standing ovation which prompted the final song “Come on People” – Smile on Your Brother. What a show from the sixth row!

~Bruce Roberts