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John McCutcheon sings Pete Seeger at The Ark, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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It's all about Pete Seeger this year for singer-songwriter John McCutcheon.

The singer-songwriter from Wisconsin (he now lives in Georgia) paid homage to his influence, mentor and friend with his latest album, "To Everyone In All The World," a collection of Seeger covers, which came out in January. McCutcheon, 66, will also celebrate the late folk hero's 100th birthday on its actual date -- Friday, May 3 -- at The Ark in Ann Arbor, where he'll be banging the hammer, ringing the bell and singing the Seeger songs that have enlivened and inspired from campfires to political rallies...

McCutcheon -- who was 11 years old when he first heard Seeger perform during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom -- says that his new album "was a total blast to do. I got to pick my very favorite of Pete's songs and got to touch as many bases of the wide range of interests and subjects he had. Some of the songs everybody knows, but there are songs people are hearing maybe for the very first time, and it's great to turn them on to those."

McCutcheon adds that the key to performing Seeger songs effectively is to let the audience do its thing. "What's really interesting about touring with this (album) is how people respond to the invitation to sing. You just start singing some of these songs and people not only will sing along but it is a tsunami of sound. That's what concerts with Pete were; It wasn't a guy showing off, it was an invitation to really be part of the event. And I think we're in a time when people are looking for things they can do together with strangers to create something amazing together."

McCutcheon chose The Ark specifically for his performance on Seeger's actual 100th birthday. "I knew I had my choice of places on where to do a concert, and I told my agent -- who, coincidentally, lives in Ann Arbor -- that I'd really like to do it at The Ark. I think that's a community that would understand what a special day this is and what a special event this could be, and what a special part of not only the folk music world but the American landscape Pete Seeger was."

John McCutcheon leads a 100th birthday celebration for the late Pete Seeger at 8 p.m. Friday, May 3, at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. $25. 734-761-1800 or visit theark.org

Web Site: www.theark.org

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