Posted by: mhubler on Jul 17, 2012
Woody Guthrie would have been one-hundred-years-old on Saturday July 14. The iconic troubadour was a beloved performer during a challenging time in our nation’s history and his songs continue to have relevance today.
From the dust bowl of Oklahoma to a migrant camp in California and back to New York, Woody Guthrie was a traveling singer-songwriter/guitarist who poetically captured the issues of his day in songs that were often rallying calls to action for worker’s rights.
Sam Misner and Megan Smith, also known as the nationally touring duo Misner & Smith, were first recruited to perform for Bread & Roses when they were featured several years ago in a production of Woody Guthrie’s American Song at the Marin Theatre Company.
The developmentally disabled adults who are participants at the Cedars Textile Arts Center in San Rafael were lucky to have Misner & Smith visit for their first Bread & Roses performance where they gave a high caliber concert of Americana style music on guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocals.
According to Bread & Roses Host Kelsey Robertson, “The most popular song they played was Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land. Megan told everyone to feel free to sing along. As soon as the first syllable of “This” was sung, the room was filled with ringing voices. The sound gave [me] chills as everyone in the place joined in to celebrate this American classic.”
A special concert production of Woody Guthrie’s American Song is currently running through July 22 at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley with Misner & Smith and others, one of many events already held or planned as a part of Woody Guthrie’s Centennial Celebration.
Singer-songwriter/guitarist Audrey Auld recently performed with Woody’s son Arlo Guthrie and long-time Bread & Roses friend Judy Collins at WoodyFest, the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okehah, Oklahoma, the town where Woody was born.
Now based in Nashville, Audrey debuted at the festival a five-song EP honoring Woody. Her song 100 Candles (click on link to download) echoes the sentiments that many of us feel about Woody Guthrie. One hundred candles, one for every year. You changed the world, you showed us all how to lend an ear, You gave voice to the silent, the hungry and the poor...
Audrey was recently interviewed in the San Jose Mercury News on how “Writing songs is a gift of life.” The article mentions how in Woody Guthrie’s tradition of the troubadour on the move, Audrey has put a west coast tour together and is traveling across the country so she can do concerts for Bread & Roses for several of our Bay Area facility audiences. She will be at the Club Fox in Redwood City on Sunday July 22.
The article, “On Woody Guthrie’s 100th, The Family Returns to Mermaid Avenue” in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, talks about how Woody's family had an intimate gathering in the town near Coney Island where he lived several years after releasing This Land Is Your Land and where his ashes were spread.
DON'T MISS this week's special Bay Area concert Woody Guthrie's American Song on the life and music of Woody Guthrie at the Freight & Salvage.
By Marian Hubler
Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): Woody Guthrie Photo by Robin Carson, from Woody Guthrie Website; Misner & Smith Photo by Duncan Smith, Courtesy of Misner & Smith; Photo Courtesy of Audrey Auld
Please share with us a special experience you’ve had playing or hearing or remembering a Woody Guthrie song.
Okemah, OK once again hosted the 15th Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, July 12 - 15. This free festival presents concerts day and night, workshops, historical presentations and kid's shows. As much a 'family reunion' of musicians and music fans, the festival features great collaborations on-stage and jamming till the wee hours after the concert events are over at midnight. Regular artists are Jimmy LaFave, Ellis Paul, Sam Baker, John Fullbright, Monica Taylor, Nancy Apple, to name a few, plus special guests like Billy Bragg, Melanie, Eliza Gilkyson, Steve Earle, Pete Seeger,Judy Collins. Guthrie family members always attend, including Woody's sister, Mary Jo. This year we celebrated Woodys 100th birthday and it marked a turning point in history as the value of his contribution to American arts and culture becomes more apparent, as does the continuing relevance of his words. Listen to his songs, "Deportee", "This Land Is Your Land" and "Do Re Me" and you'll find they still ring true. Come and join us next year in Okemah and you'll find your new family!
A 10-show run of 'Woody Guthrie's American Song' at the Freight & Salvage proved to us once again how powerful songs can be. It is an unbelievable feeling to look out at a full house of people singing along, tears in their eyes, dancing in their chairs or in the aisles, and to know that what we're all really singing about is hope. Where do you find hope in a world that so often tells you that you're not good enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not strong enough? You find it by reaching out and connecting to other people. By singing together, by sharing. That's one of the things we've gained from Woody's music. And certainly what we get from our shows with Bread & Roses. Misner & Smith are proud to be part of such a wonderful organization that shares music with the ones who need it most.