Sound Bites Interview: Austin McCutchen


There's not a lot of serious country music in New York these days. There's gimmicky bands, and loads of singer songwriter type stuff but, for the most part, artists doing dusty honky tonk died out with No Depression. Artist doing the same in the bluegrass style are even fewer and far between. Austin McCutchen does both, staying busy with three musical endeavors. He's got a '70s style electric band, and a traditional bluegrass quartet, also making time to be part of the sprawling bro-verload that is Neckbeard Telecaster. 

MP3: Austin McCutchen – Honey Don't Be Sad (MP3)

The Austin McCutchen Quartet will bring the single-mike-style bluegrass to the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series this Wednesday (6/9) on the Pier 17 stage at South Street Seaport. As the show is in conjunction with the Fulton Stall Markets, I'm asking all the bands playing to answer some food related questions. 

You're playing opposite the Fulton Stall Markets. WHat's your favorite vegetable?

Quite possibly – the potato is my favorite vegetable.  There's nothing better than a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.  Also you can use it to compliment dishes or use it as the basis for the meal.

Did you have a garden growing up?

My grandparents did. They lived on about five acres of land, so they grew summer squash, picked and canned things, all that kind of stuff.

Do you cook much here in NYC?

I don't. I'm spoiled. I have two roommates and we don't share anything. When I do cook, it's not very good. I'll go through periods where I decide I'm going to learn to cook something and then if it turns out bad I get turned off to the idea. Plus there's waste issues when you cook for yourself. It's hard to eat the same thing three days in a row.

Where do you like to eat here in the neighborhood?

I like Walter Foods, I go there maybe every other week. I eat at Robertas a lot, it's right around the corner from my house. There's not a lot else out there, unless I go out to the Jefferson stop for tacos. Taco Chulo is good too. Egg, the normal places.

You work at Oslo coffee. Do you have a signature drink?

I make a really good cortado. I, however don't have a crazy name for any drink that i've ever invented.

What's your hangover food?

I never get hungover. (Laughs) With my job, I don't really get the chance to get hangover food. But Robertas has amazing ricotta pancakes with apples and cinamon butter on top.

Any foods you dislike?

I pretty much like everything. I came upon liking more foods in the last four years — I used to be a picky eater but am trying to open myself up to everything. Raw tomatoes I dont' really like. Cooked are fine.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

I have a song that i wrote off the idea of melting sugar down into a liquid form…does that count?

Let’s Do Lunch


Free for lunch next month? How about coming down to South Street Seaport for some free rock shows curated by this moi? The Fulton Stall Market launches its second season in the old Fulton Fish Market space on May 30 and to help celebrate, the folks behind it asked if I wanted to help put on some daytime shows the first month the Market is open. I said yes and now we've got the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, which will happen every Wednesday in June. In keeping with the "go local" aspect that is so intrinsic to farmers markets, I stayed with bands from NYC, mostly Brooklyn.

We'll kick things off Sunday, May 30 — the Market's opening day — with a performance from up-and-comers North Highlands, and then the next five Wednesdays. I'll spin some tunes at noon and then bands go on at 1PM. It's free. Here's the full six-show line-up:

MAY 30 (Sunday kickoff): North Highlands (MP3: "Collar Bones")
Lovely orch-pop from one of the nicest, best new bands in Brooklyn. Their live show is pretty magical.

JUNE 2: Air Waves (MP3: "Knock Out")
Gentle jangle somewhere between Neil Young and Loaded-era Velvet Underground. Great songs, great stories.

JUNE 9: The Austin McCutchen Quartet (MP3: "Honey Don't Be Sad")
A talented songwriter from my neighborhood, playing bluegrass in the single mike style just like olden days.

JUNE 16: Ribbons (MP3: "Total Loss")
Dark and mysterious indie rock. This is one of their last-ever shows so don't miss it!

JUNE 23: The Beets (MP3: "What Did I Do?")
If Eddie Haskel formed a protopunk band, The Beets would be it. Bratty, but always leaving you with a thankyouverymuch.

JUNE 30: Toys and Tiny Instruments Band
The name kind of says it all. Serious pop music, but played playfully. And in miniature.

Again, I DJ for an hour at noon, then the bands play at 1PM. The Fulton Stall Market has local purveyors in addition to farmers, and I'm told they're getting cool food trucks under the FDR, so grab some grub and come watch the bands. Sounds idyllic to me. Sets won't be too long, so if you work in the neighborhood you'll be back at your desk checking Facebook in normal time. If you're not encumbered by a job, I can tell you where the cheep beer is at the Seaport.

The Seaport is one of my favorite places to see shows in NYC, certainly my favorite outdoor space, and I always look forward to the Seaport Music Festival every year (this year's schedule looks great, btw), so I'm honored and pysched to be a little part of it this season. And that it's also promoting local farmers (I try to be a locavore as much as possible), it's even better. Come down if you can, I think it's gonna be a good time.