Michael Johnathon’s “folksinger” credentials are of the highest order. The singer/songwriter took the advice of Pete Seeger and moved from Texas to Appalachian Kentucky to better study Folk music tradition, and he went on to play shows alongside heavyweight icons like Odetta and Judy Collins.
He is also the founder and host of perhaps the most popular Folk/Americana music TV/radio show on the airwaves, WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour. Johnathon began hosting the program in 1998 and it grew to be broadcast on over 500 radio stations, including the American Forces Networks, putting it in over 173 countries worldwide. It’s also broadcast on public television, and has featured legendary and contemporary artists like Richie Havens, The Avett Brothers, Chris Stapleton, Ralph Stanley and Roger McGuinn, among hundreds of others.
In his own career, Johnathon has released several albums since 1986, as well as a play based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and an opera based on the life of Woody Guthrie. His songs are, naturally, steeped in Folk music tradition, never shying away from social/political commentary. “The Statue,” from his just-released Dazed & Confuzed album, was written in the wake of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and inspired by the ongoing debate over Confederate-era statues.
“It’s a lyrical condemnation of prejudice and racism and the hurt it causes,” Johnathon says of the song.
Johnathon’s Cincinnati performance Sunday is a part of local Folk music organization Queen City Balladeers’ Leo Coffeehouse showcase, which has been operating in town for the past 56 years (coincidentally, the Leo performances began the year Johnathon was born).
7 p.m. Sunday. $5 suggested donation. Zion United Church of Christ, 2301 Indian Mound Ave., Norwood, queencityballadeers.org.