Local musician to hold 10th annual holiday concertLocal musician Tom Cawcutt Sr. of Wrenshall has shared his gift of music with area residents by performing a very special Christmas concert each year to benefit needy families of the area.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Local musician Tom Cawcutt Sr. of Wrenshall has shared his gift of music with area residents by performing a very special Christmas concert each year to benefit needy families of the area. This year’s concert, slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Cloquet, will be a little more special than most. It marks the 10th year of what has become a favorite local holiday tradition.
“I’ll be performing Christmas music as well as some of the old standards,” said Cawcutt. “I’d like to invite everyone to come and sit back, relax, and enjoy the music of the season.”
If you’re thinking you’ll hear music from The Grinch or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” think again.
Cawcutt admittedly prefers music that hits close to the heart.
“I’m a romantic,” he said. “My favorite songs are contemporary ballads. It’s what I grew up with.”
This year’s concert will also premiere the release of Cawcutt’s latest CD, “Strings of Ivory,” which features his piano music as well as a number of different instruments laced throughout the musical selections to create a mix of original, classical and contemporary music.
“It’s the kind of music you can relax to, maybe sip a glass of wine, use as background music or fall asleep to,” said Cawcutt.
One of the feature tracks, “Ode to Autumn,” was written by Cawcutt for the stunning video DVD compiled by the Superior Hiking Trail Association to create a photo story of Lake Superior’s North Shore. He describes his original composition as “kind of like letting your imagination running wild amidst the colored leaves.”
Another track, also written for the same DVD, is titled “Reflections.”
“Imagine yourself gazing into one of the still ponds of a river, gazing into the water at the reflections of the trees and everything else around you….” Cawcutt invites.
Cawcutt’s playlist on Dec. 14 will include some of the songs from the CD, as well as one of his personal favorites – excerpts from the theme to Rachmaninoff’s Second Concerto.
“This concert will be all about Christmas – and a whole lot more,” said Cawcutt.
His new CD will be available at the concert in time for Christmas giving or your own enjoyment during the holiday season.
Tickets to the concert will be sold at the door at a cost of $8 for adults, $5 for students, and children under age 12 will be admitted free.
“I like to mentor young people who have an interest in music,” explained Cawcutt.
Cawcutt started playing piano at the age of 3. He was encouraged to take lessons at such an early age because his great aunt Dorothy witnessed him tinkering around on the keyboard and saw potential in him. Many years – and successful performances – later, Cawcutt’s grandmother offered to pay his way through the prestigious Juilliard performing arts conservatory in New York City. This gracious offer was turned down, however.
“I was stupid and young and playing in a band, so I passed on that,” he said. “I was making a lot of money every week – and I was meeting girls and just having fun. Juilliard was going to mean I would have to simmer down and put my nose to the grindstone.
Cawcutt actually never made music his life. He took a job at the paper mill in Cloquet in 1974 and has been working there ever since.
“You gotta pay the bills,” said the husband and father.
Cawcutt auditioned for NBC’s reality series “America’s Got Talent” in November 2009, and though he never made it to the televised finals, he said he had no regrets.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
In 2010, Cawcutt’s original “jingle” was selected as the official theme song of Bentleyville, Nathan Bentley’s annual Christmas lighting extravaganza now held at Duluth’s Bayfront Park. Cawcutt’s entry was selected from among a wide field of entries, which were narrowed down to six finalists by Bentley and a panel of other judges. Each finalist was then interviewed on the Northland’s News Center, along with a preview of their song entry. The public was asked to vote for their favorite, and Cawcutt’s was the one that came in ahead of the pack.