Wisconsin-bred, Georgia-based musician John McCutcheon has evolved into folk music's Renaissance man. He is a master multi-instrumentalist, powerful singer-songwriter, storyteller, activist, and author with his recordings garnering a plethora of honors, including six Grammy nominations.
McCutcheon will give a pair of intimate performances -- 5 and 8 p.m. -- this Saturday at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music in Szold Hall (4545 N. Lincoln), that are sure to sell out. Tickets are $28. More: 773- 728-6000 or oldtownschool.org/concerts/2019/02-16-2019-john-mccutcheon.
McCutcheon has produced over 20 albums by other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works, and his commitment to grassroots political organizations has put him on the front lines of many issues with relevance to communities and workers.
The celebrated folk artist's 40th album was released last month and is a tribute to the late folk music icon Pete Seeger. The already widely acclaimed collection is titled "To Everyone In All The World: A Celebration of Pete Seeger," and it features many musical guest artists, including the Steel Wheels, Hot Rize and Suzy Bogguss.
Pete Seeger himself was on the record as being a big fan and admirer of McCutcheon and his music. Check out the video of McCutcheon performing Seeger's classic "Pretty Boy Floyd" at: youtube.com/watch?v=o9YoNqMidCQ.
• As this column was being wrapped up, the sad news came that yet another long time member of the Region's music community had passed away of natural causes. Mike Nelson, affectionately known to friends as "Sea Hunt," was a long time professional "behind the scenes" stage crew worker who literally made the shows happen. He began by helping local rock bands (Joker, Sgt. Roxx, Gruesomes, etc.) during the late '80s, later becoming a much respected union stage hand with IATSE Local 125, who worked with many top entertainment acts.
Nelson worked shows in many of the Midwest's top music venues, including Star Plaza Theatre, and was much beloved and respected by those in the Chicagoland/NW Indiana music community. He will be greatly missed. Condolences to his family and friends.
• Congratulations to Chicago blues guitar legend and elder statesman of the blues Buddy Guy on his latest album "The Blues Is Alive And Well," winning a 2019 Grammy Award this past week in the category of Best Traditional Blues Album. Guy received a standing ovation at the awards show and deservedly so, as the album is an outstanding piece of work. It once more reveals Buddy Guy continues to keep his beloved blues alive and well and moving forward. Follow him at: buddyguy.net.
• Northwest Indiana's three Buddy & Pals locations will all be rocking this weekend with a series of 8:30 p.m. live music shows. Final Say performs Friday and Pawnz on Saturday at the Crown Point club (1206 E. Summit St.). Smarty Pants takes the stage at the Schererville club on Saturday (340 US Hwy. 30), and Mr. Funnyman will have folks dancing at the Winfield (10685 Randolph St.) club on Saturday. More: buddyandpals.com.
• Rockers who like to road trip, may want to catch the Region's own Marrakesh Express on Saturday as they represent NWI on the stage of The Park Theatre (248 S. River Ave.) in Holland, Michigan. The group performs the classic music and vocal harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Eastern. More: parktheatreholland.org or (616) 294-3196.
• Another regional talent who will be strutting her stuff outside of the local scene this weekend is Chesterton's Jerica Paliga. The country singer/songwriter takes her band this Friday up to the historic Sundance Saloon (20161 W. Maple Ave.) in Mundelein, Illinois. More: facebook.com/JericaPaligaMusic.
• Chad Clifford of The Crawpuppies presents his solo guitar/vocal show mixing original songs and classic covers this Saturday at The Tavern On Main (136 S. Main St.) in Crown Point from 9:30-12:30 p.m. More: 219- 779-9377.
• This Sunday afternoon's "Live From The Record Bin" internet radio concert/broadcast will feature a live performance by musical duo John Huber & Julie Peterson. The weekly all ages broadcast happens from 4-6 p.m. every Sunday on RegionRadio.Live from the Record Bin (218 Main St.) in Hobart. No Cost and complimentary refreshments served. More: facebook.com/LiveAtTheRecordBin.
• The Red Deluxe Band will host an open to the public 8 p.m. to midnight Valentine's Dance on Friday at The New Buffalo American Legion Post 169 (19139 U.S. Hwy 12) in New Buffalo, Michigan. More: facebook.com/RedDeluxeBand.
• Region singer/songwriter/guitarist Greg Ashby is joined by a rotating cast of musical friends for mid-week performances every Wednesday evening at Finnegans (1074 Joliet Road.) in Dyer. Next up on Feb. 20, Ashby pairs up to swap chops with The Steepwater Band's guitarist/vocalist Jeff Massey.
• Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 W. U.S. 20) in Porter welcomes live comedy on Friday at 8 p.m., followed on Saturday with classic rock by Duneside Classic Rewind at 9 p.m. More: leroyshotstuff.com or 219-926-6211.
• The Marco Villarreal Jazz Project -- anchored by Hobart guitar virtuoso Marco Villarreal -- will perform Saturday from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. for the Valentine's Weekend guests of Merrillville's eatery Asparagus (7876 Broadway). Reservations and info: 219-794-0000.
• Drummer Andy Sutton's weekly Sunday Jazz Brunch at Region Ale Taphouse & Eatery (1080 U.S. 41) in Schererville (regionaletaphouse.com) finds local jazz players performing all ages shows with guest spotlight artists. This Sunday's guest is Chicago-based blues vocalist and recording artist Susan Wright of Susan Wright & The Wright Groove. Local jazzers are always welcome to step up and join in performing and can get more info by calling Sutton at 219- 671-0479 or andysuttonmusic.com.
• Northwest Indiana singer/songwriters Jack Whittle and James Gedda will be live in studio from noon to 2 p.m. Friday on 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio's weekly program, "Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges" (which streams live at lakeshorepublicmedia.org). The two local music makers will talk about their respective careers, songwriting, and perform tunes both individually and as a duo.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday (2/19), "Midwest BEAT" will welcome actor/musician Zachary Stevenson as its guest. Stevenson will talk about his role as rockabilly pioneer Carl Perkins in the upcoming production of "Million Dollar Quartet" that opens this weekend at Theatre At The Center (1040 Ridge Road.) in Munster.