Even though he lives in the city of Smoke Rise, Georgia, veteran folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon is a popular Sonoma County fixture.
That is because McCutcheon annually plays at Sonoma’s historic Sebastiani Theatre as part of a self-described “Left Coast Tour” that he’s embarked upon each January for more than 30 years.
This year, McCutcheon could not make the trip out to California due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. So he’s doing the next best thing, performing an online show that will benefit the theater on Saturday, Jan. 9.
That online show is one of two concerts McCutcheon is hosting as part of his Virtual Left Coast Tour, and each show benefits a number of California venues and organizations that McCutcheon regularly works with.
For example, Sebastiani Theatre is sponsoring the Jan. 9 performance alongside co-sponsors The Freight & Salvage (Berkeley), KVMR (Nevada City-Grass Valley), Modesto Peace & Life (www.peacelifecenter.org) and KZFR (Chico).
On McCutcheon’s webpage, virtual concertgoers can purchase tickets to the show through their preferred venue’s link, which will ensure their ticket helps to support that sponsor directly.
“A lot of these presenters have become old friends by now. I want and need them to survive so that we can continue our work together on the other side of all this,” McCutcheon says in a statement. “Each presenter gets a unique ticketing URL and sells tickets to ‘their’ audience. They get a cut of the sales that they sold, just as if I were there live. In fact, it’s a better percentage and they don’t even have to turn the lights on.”
Tickets are available for the virtual concert at three price points to give the show a “Pay what you can” feel, including a five-dollar “unemployed/laid off” ticket.
“Everyone needs music these days, so we want to keep it affordable,” McCutcheon says.
The prolific musician also promises he will have plenty of new songs and stories for the upcoming virtual show, as he does each year that he comes to town. In fact, McCutcheon recently released his 41st album, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine.
Written over the course of three weeks of self-imposed isolation following an Australian tour in Mid-March, Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine is not the album McCutcheon planned on recording in 2020.
Following his last release, To Everyone In All the World: a Celebration of Pete Seeger, McCutcheon had stockpiled over 30 new songs, but that record went on the shelf once the pandemic-related music and lyrics began pouring out of him while he was in isolation.
Like his upcoming virtual concert, McCutcheon wanted to make the album accessible to everyone, regardless of finances.
“We’re in this together and we need to look out for one another,” McCutcheon says. “It’s the only way, in the music business or in ‘real life,’ that we’re going to make it.”