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Folk musician McCutcheon to play for Children’s Museum

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Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon will perform in Oak Ridge’s Grove Theater this week in a special concert to benefit the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.

The concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, will pay tribute to Selma Shapiro, the late long-time director of the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.

McCutcheon is a folk musician known for his stories, songs, and his virtuosic skill with a variety of instruments.

The hammer dulcimer has become McCutcheon's signature instrument, but he also plays banjo, guitar, autoharp, piano, and fiddle.

Johnny Cash called him “the most impressive instrumentalist I've ever heard.”

All of those instruments are tools for what the Washington Post calls "storytelling that has the richness of fine literature."

McCutcheon's songs often combine themes of love, childhood, and parenting with stories of working-class life in the United States and political liberation around the world.

His latest album is “This Land: Woody Guthrie's America.”

According to FAME Reviews, "The singing and musical accompaniment is amazing … the songs are a kaleidoscope of the writing of the late Woody Guthrie."

McCutcheon's concert will raise funds for wheelchair accessibility at the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge.

Recent strides toward this goal include an indoor wheelchair ramp and a paved parking lot.

Along with community support, McCutcheon’s last two performances in Oak Ridge have helped fund this progress. The top level of the Museum, holding the popular World of Trains exhibit, still lacks an indoor ramp.

The concert will also honor the legacy of Selma Shapiro, who directed the Children’s Museum from 1973 until 2004, and remained a central figure there until her death in 2011.

Shapiro and McCutcheon were longtime fans of each other’s work. Through a long-running series of children's shows at the Museum, Shapiro was largely responsible for establishing McCutcheon's fan base in Oak Ridge.

On the occasion of an earlier tribute to Shapiro’s memory, McCutcheon wrote, “She was dogged in her belief that our children deserve the very best and moved heaven and earth to make that happen.”

The Grove Theater is at 123 Randolph Road in Oak Ridge.

Tickets are $18 in advance and $23 at the door, and can be purchased by calling the museum at 865-482-1074, at www.cumberlandmusic.org, or at the Ferrell Shop in Jackson Square, Oak Ridge.

Call Allen McBride at 865-567-1415 for more information.