So long: McCutcheon signs off in song

We have some bad news– John McCutcheon is saying adieu to Charlottesville. Even worse, he actually said it a year ago and disappeared without telling anyone!

Last fall, McCutcheon realized that he had an ex-wife and grown kids– and thus no responsibilities tying him to town. Spurred by an expired lease and a special someone, the beloved folk singer relocated to Atlanta late last year, moving from a spot near Meade Park to the edge of Decatur, Georgia.

"I went to the land of direct flights," he laughs, "after 35 years of making connections."

Thus we have his farewell concert at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday, November 17, a benefit for the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.

McCutcheon laughs when he hears it referred to that way, as though the whole thing still seems a little surreal, even a year later. "We didn't know what to call it. It doesn't mean I won't ever be back," he says. "Charlottesville's a pretty difficult town to leave."

This concert brings a certain symmetry to McCutcheon's 20-year string of local performances: all the others were also benefits for area non-profit groups and community organizations.

"Part of what makes a community run is organizations like that," he says. "It was my way of saying, 'Thanks for taking care of my family when I'm on the road.' I used to be the guy across town that all the non-profits knew how to reach."

Things have been much more fast-paced in Atlanta, he says. "Because I got a Grammy nomination this last year, I got invited to all the Grammy parties. It was a great way to meet a lot of people in the Atlanta music community. You go to parties, and you meet people in the hip-hop world and the country world. Ludacris is at every party they throw. But I don't think he and I are going to be collaborating any time soon," he laughs.

We'll spare you the obvious crunk joke, but how about T.I.? Outkast? Goodie Mob? All long shots, it would seem, until he says he's been approached by Arrested Development.

"Atlanta feels like it has a really interesting, dynamic, working musical community," he says. "The best acoustic venue is five minute from my house."

That would be Eddie's Attic, a listening room favored by Sugarland, who have also asked about collaborating with McCutcheon. It seems he's already started to find his place there.

Sure enough, a show in December has him playing at a benefit concert in a local high school. "I remember going to play at my kids' elementary school, and they had a big poster over the stage that said 'Welcome Will and Peter's Dad.' And I thought, 'That's who I am here.'"

Atlanta may be a much larger urban jungle, but it's nice to know that some things about McCutcheon haven't changed.

John McCutcheon's "farewell concert" happens November 17 in the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center. 7pm, $25/concert; $50/concert and reception. Proceeds benefit the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.