Happy Birthday, Woody

As most music fans, particularly Americana music fans, know Saturday July 14 marks the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth. There have been many events held and much music released associated with the centennial of this folk legend.

Woody Guthrie

This week saw the release of the big Woody at 100 boxset that contains some rather material and music associated with his time in Los Angeles. Both the L.A. Times (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/10/entertainment/la-et-ms-woody-guthrie-20120709) and the L.A. Weekly (http://blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound/2012/07/woody_guthrie_supplement.php) had good articles looking into this period of Guthrie’s L.A. years (the late ‘30s).

I did want to make note of a special event taking place in L.A.’s Echo Park area (a former Guthrie neighborhood) that will celebrate Woody’s legacy.

There will be a “history brunch” from 10 a.m.-noon where experts will talk about Guthrie and other related historical topics (WPA, Dust Bowl refugees, New Deal, etc.). Among the participants will be singer/songwriter Darryl Holter (the Guthrie scholar and  labor/union expert who earlier this year released his own Crooked Hearts – terrific gritty troubadour album worth seeking out) and bluesman S.S. Jones. The afternoon will feature more music (Michelle Shocked is a scheduled performer), a picnic, arts & crafts and children’s activities. It will all take place at El Centro del Pueblo
 (1157 Lemoyne Street, Echo Park). There’s also a fundraiser for Skid Row Advocacy at night at the Echo (6-9 p.m.). You can find out more info at http://woodyinechopark.wordpress.com/

A number of musicians have put out Woody Guthrie tribute albums in the last year. I have enjoyed John McCutcheon’s This Land: Woody Guthrie’s America (although I have some qualms about a few of the arrangements). The New Multitudes project (with Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yam Yames) is another cool project. Elizabeth Mitchell just released a wonderful CD of Guthrie kids tunes, Little Seed: Songs For Children by Woody Guthrie, that everyone will enjoy. Another favorite female singer-songwriter, Australian ex-pat Audrey Auld has a done a little, but lovely, EP tribute to Woody mixing her originals with Guthrie’s.

Audrey Auld

The Grammy Museum just announced its fifth centennial concert, which will take place at Brooklyn College’s Whitman Theater on Sept. 22. Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, Judy Collins and Billy Bragg are among the scheduled musicians. The show that the museum organized in Los Angeles earlier this year was a truly memorable event. There will also be a daylong conference happening at the college earlier that day.

It is much more happening or that will happening to celebrate Woody Guthrie but I just wanted to bring together some of the activity.

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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