90th Year Celebration | February, 2003

Arlo Guthrie | Marty Stuart | Guy Clark | Nanci Griffith | Janis Ian

Ramblin' Jack Elliott | James Talley | Slaid Cleaves | Jimmy LaFave

Beth Nielsen Chapman | Ellis Paul | Peter Rowan | Tim O'Brien

Alison Brown | Pat Flynn | Eliza Gilkyson | Corey Harris | Rob Wasserman

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer| Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Wenzel | Blackfire | DJ Logic

Press Release | Photo Gallery | Calendar of Events
From January 8th to February 8th, 2003, Nashville was swinging with the sounds and legacy of Woody Guthrie, honoring him with a variety of concerts, exhibits, and school programs.

To kick off the month, January 8th was the opening reception followed by the screening of "Bound For Glory", Hal Ashby's Academy Award-winning film starring David Carradine. Showing at the Belcourt Theatre, this film was also the start of a month long film series dedicated to Woody Guthrie's life and legacy. Monday, January 15th the Belcourt Theatre screened "Hard Travelin'" Arlo Guthrie's trace of his father's life back to Oklahoma. January 22nd "Roll on Columbia" screened at the Belcourt. "Roll On Columbia" details the story of how Woody was hired in 1941, by the Bonneville Dam Administration to write songs for the Bonneville Dam Project. January 29th the Belcourt showed "Man in the Sand" Billy Bragg's documentary on the process of creating the Mermaid Avenue CD. February 2nd the Belcourt showed "A Vision Shared", concluding the month-long film series. Prior to the screening of "A Vision Shared", there were live performances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Mary Gauthier, and Beth Nielsen-Chapman. The evening was emceed by Michael Kleff, German world music journalist.

Closing the unprecedented month-long celebration of Woody Guthrie's life and music, Nashville got together on February 5th at the Ryman Auditorium to sing, shout, and have a great time, all to benefit the Woody Guthrie Foundation.

Though it got off to a late start (and thanks to Old Crow Medicine Show, no one rioted), the concert was a rousing success, which featured Woody Guthrie standards, as well as premiers of new songs. Everyone from Country legend Marty Stuart to Navajo punk band Blackfire gave their all.

Old Crow Medicine Show started the concert off with an impromptu series of songs, including Woody's "Union Maid". This was followed by Alison Brown and John Doyle doing an instrumental version of "This Land Is Your Land," followed by the MET Singers (a group of school children from Nashville's public schools) singing a choral version of the song.

Things really got going when Old Crow Medicine Show and Marty Stuart hit off with "Howdido," and James Talley with Dave Pomeroy gave a moving rendition of "Oklahoma Hills." Beth Nielsen Chapman debuted Woody's song "A Story That's Never Been Told," which Woody had set to the tune of "Picture from Life's Other Side."

Janis Ian premiered her new collaboration "I Hear You Sing Again" (based on Woody's original lyric, "Mother Sing Again"). She also joined Talley, Chapman, and Pomeroy on "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos."

The Ribbon of Highway Quartet, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Ellis Paul, and Eliza Gilkyson were next, starting with LaFave's rendition of "In Oklayhoma" and "Oklahoma Hills." Then Cleaves and Gilkyson performed Cleaves' and Guthrie's "This Morning I Am Born Again," followed by Paul's "Gods Promise."

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer sang "Birds and Ships," from Billy Bragg and Wilco's album of Woody Guthrie lyrics, Mermaid Avenue, and Corey Harris gave tribute to Lead Belly by premiering another Woody Guthrie lyric, "Go Back and Try," written by Woody in praise of his friend and co-musician.

After Harris' bluesy number, Tim O'Brien and Peter Rowan sang "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key," and "Hard Travelin."

The concert switched gears after intermission when Blackfire got on stage and ripped through their premiere of "There's Mean Things Happening in This World." Concert-goers were now seeing the new side of Woody Guthrie. Rob Wasserman and DJ Logic jammed to Studs Terkel's spoken word piece, and Hans-Eckardt Wenzel followed with his haunting premiere of "Ninety Mile Wind," and his wonderful "Ticky Tock."

Guy Clark and Marty Stuart sang "Pretty Boy Floyd," and Clark backed-up Nanci Griffith and the Kennedys on the song "Do Re Mi."

Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives brought the concert to a new high with his performance of "Jesus Christ," and the little-known, "Hangknot, Slipknot." Stuart got the crowd going by improvising lyrics to "Hangknot" urging the County Music Hall of Fame to induct Woody Guthrie.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott brought some history to the crowd as he sang "Pastures of Plenty" and "Talking Sailor." He told a story about Woody getting on his first Liberty ship during his stint in the Merchant Marines.

And no Woody Guthrie tribute concert would be complete without Arlo Guthrie and family on stage, giving their support. Arlo sang "Dead or Alive," followed by Sarah Lee and Johnny Irion singing "Be No Church Tonite." Arlo finished his set with "Gypsy Davy."

The concert ended with all the musicians and even the crowd singing their hearts out with "This Land Is Your Land." (For a complete of artists and links to their websites, go here.)

Michael Parrish, of the Chicago Tribune, stated, "the Ryman tribute was a testimony both to the treasures contained in Guthrie's portfolio and to the ongoing relevance of his songs.

As well as the concert and film festival, Nashville citizens and tourists alike could get rare glimpses into the artistic side of Woody Guthrie with three exhibitions curated by the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives and displayed during the celebration at Bongo Java coffee houses. Two of the Bongo Java exhibits featured Woody's drawings and the exhibit at Fido's features stunning photographs that open up an often unknown side of Woody Guthrie's history. Among the artwork shown were Woody's sketches he did for his autobiography, BOUND FOR GLORY, and a series of cartoons called THIS IS THE HAND, a brilliant commentary on workers and bosses and the need for unions. The third exhibit displayed twenty rare photographs of Woody dated from 1939-1954, including some that had never been released.

Also, on February 4th, Nora Guthrie emceed the program "I've Sung This Song", presented by NARAS. Nora showed the film "All or None", segments of rare footage supplied by the Woody Guthrie Foundation & Archives. Nora got comfortable on the carpeted stage, sat down, and told her father's tales in between the segments. In the audience was Mary-Jo Edgmon (Woody's sister) and Tiny Robinson (Leadbelly's niece). As the film footage ended, the audience got a rare site, watching Woody's close family share intimate and often humorous anecdotes about their days with Woody's. The day before, Kathy Jacobsen and Nora Guthrie spoke and signed books at the David Kidd Book Store. The event was a huge success.

Last, but certainly not least, singer/songwriter David Massengill filled in for Dave Marsh (who was snowed-in in New York) as moderator for the panel "Can You Get From The Dust Bowl To Music Row". The panelists included singer Nanci Griffith, historian Robert K. Oermann, and Nashville Scene music editor Bill Friskics-Warren. Jimmy LaFave opened the discussion with his version of "Oklahoma Hills", Sarah Lee and Johnny Irion follow with their rendition of "Philadelphia Lawyer", and Nanci Griffith jumped in with her "Troubled Fields". This panel discussion combined the end of the "Nashville Sings Woody" month-long celebration with the beginning of the annual "Folk Alliance Conference."

Nashville Celebrates Woody Guthrie Original Press Release

The city of Nashville will join together, celebrating the life and legacy of folk singer Woody Guthrie, January 8 through February 9, 2003. The Dust Bowl balladeer inspired two generations of musicians including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Bruce Springsteen, extending to contemporary artists such as U2, Billy Bragg, Wilco and Ani DiFranco.

"The Woody Guthrie 90th Year Celebration," presented by Gibson Guitar and Baldwin Piano, reflects an ever-increasing awareness of the man who penned the lyrics to This Land Is Your Land, while helping to raise funds for the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives in New York City. The full month of events includes a film festival, seminars, museum and art exhibits, school programs, and a variety of performances.

This Guthrie celebration will be highlighted in its final week with a benefit concert at the Ryman Auditorium on February 5, featuring Woody’s son Arlo Guthrie, artists Nanci Griffith, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Marty Stuart, Peter Rowan and Janis Ian, and a bevy of all-star musicians who represent the best in such genres as country, folk, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, world music, and punk rock. The concert will feature many of Guthrie's most famous songs that have become staples of the folk music repertoire throughout the past 50 years. Making this an historic event, Woody's daughter Nora, Director of The Woody Guthrie Archives, has invited artists to collaborate in creating new music to never-before-heard Guthrie lyrics which will be premiered that evening.

Kicking off the festivities on January 8, The Belcourt Theatre presents the first film in a series of five feature and documentary films depicting Guthrie's life and his influence on contemporary music in their Woody Guthrie Film Festival, along with an opening reception. February 2 will mark the conclusion of the film festival, with a benefit screening of A Vision Shared, which will include live music and discussion.

Starting January 10th, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will present an exhibit of Kathy Jakobsen's lush and beautifully rendered oil paintings. Each painting illustrates a phrase of the famous Guthrie song This Land is Your Land and reflects American culture and little known details of Woody Guthrie's life. The paintings and the words of the song are collected into a book published by Little, Brown and Company, entitled This Land is Your Land.

Jakobsen will present a family program at the museum on January 25 at 1pm based on stories of Guthrie's life as illustrated through her paintings. The program will be followed by a book signing in the museum store and a reception for the artist. This show of paintings coincides with the museum's premier 2003 Archives Spotlight Series exhibit where one of Guthrie's own guitars will be on display for the first time alongside original Guthrie lyrics.

Bongo Java's Fido location will host an opening reception on January 12, welcoming three exhibits curated especially for Nashville by the Woody Guthrie Archives. The exhibits will appear separately in each Bongo Java coffeehouse/gallery location. Bongo Java will also create a custom "Woody Blend" and coffee mug for the occasion. On February 3, Kathy Jakobsen and Nora Guthrie will appear for an additional book signing at Davis Kidd Bookseller and relate anecdotes and stories about Woody as a visual artist.

Nashville's music community will add to the festivities with live performances at Tower Records; the nationally known Billy Block's Western Beat Roots Revival; Nashville Sunday Night Live hosted by our radio sponsor WRLT at 3rd & Lindsley; and "Alternative Woody" a punk rock and world music concert at The End.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will present two seminars: journalist/historian Dave Marsh will host a panel on Guthrie's influence on country music, and Nashville’s NARAS chapter will sponsor a program of rare film footage from the Woody Guthrie Archives, with commentary by legendary manager/impresario Harold Leventhal and Woody's daughter, Nora Guthrie.

With Music City's unique awareness of Guthrie's contributions to American music, The Metro Public School system will integrate a focused program of his folk and children's songs into their music and art curriculum. Additionally, musicians Cormac McCarthy and Sammie Haynes will present their Guthrie assembly program Hard Times and Good Times in America throughout the city's schools.

This unprecedented month-long tribute, highlighting so many different aspects of Guthrie’s legacy, is a heartfelt collaboration between the city of Nashville, it’s artists and educational institutions, and the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives. It is our mutual and singular hope that the combined events broaden and deepen our national understanding of Woody Guthrie’s legacy both in music and in spirit. We celebrate not only his songs, but also his tremendous influence on the development of American music. We also celebrate his visions and hopes for all people; ideas which resonate far beyond our own border.

The Woody Guthrie 90th Year Celebration is presented by Gibson Guitar and Baldwin Pianos, the leading American makers of fretted instruments and pianos. Established in Kalamazoo, MI, in 1894 and based in Nashville since 1984, Gibson is currently developing a Woody Guthrie model guitar in collaboration with Woody’s son, Arlo Guthrie. Baldwin, one of the most prestigious names in the piano business since 1862, joined the Gibson family in 2001. WRLT-Lightning 100 and The Tennessean/The Rage are our proud media sponsors for these events.

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January 8th
Belcourt Theatre opening of Woody Guthrie Film Festival - Hal Ashby's Academy Award Winning Film, "Bound for Glory" and opening reception (www.belcourt.org, 615-383-9140)
January 10th
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum presents Kathy Jakobsen's exhibit of oil paintings of "This Land is Your Land". (www.countrymusichalloffame.com)
January 12th

Bongo Java Art Exhibit Opening, Reception at Fido. (www.bongojava.com)
"Bound For Glory," the pen and ink illustrations from Guthrie's 1943 autobiography, Bongo Java Roasting Co. (107 S. 11th St.)
"Join the CIO,"
Guthrie's labor cartoon series, Bongo Java (2007 Belmont Blvd)
"Faces of Woody Guthrie: Rare Photos from the Archives,"
Fido (1812 21st Ave. S.)

January 15th
Belcourt Theatre - Jim Brown's documentary "Hard Travelin'" featuring Arlo Guthrie
January 21st
Billy Block's Western Beat Roots Revival - A Guthrie Americana tribute, Exit/In (westernbeat.com)
January 22nd
Belcourt Theatre - "Roll On Columbia" - a documentary of Guthrie's work for the Bonneville Dam Project
January 25th
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum - Kathy Jakobsen's opening reception, with book signing and program. Spotlight Series exhibit of Woody Guthrie's guitar and original lyrics
January 29th
Belcourt Theatre - "Man in the Sand," a documentary of the making of the "Mermaid Avenue" recordings, featuring Billy Bragg and Wilco
February 1st
Tower Records West End- "Songs of Woody," In-Store Performances featuring Nashville's Music Community (615-327-3722) featuring Joel Rafael, Rod Picott, Alan Rhody, Craig Havighurst, Tom Mitchell, and James Talley
February 2nd
Belcourt Theatre - "A Vision Shared," Jim Brown's documentary of an all-star music tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. Special benefit screening with discussion by Leadbelly's niece Tiny Robinson and live performances from Beth Nielson Chapman, Old Crow Medicine Show, and friends
February 3rd
Kathy Jakobsen & Nora Guthrie book signing/program at Davis Kidd Booksellers.
February 3rd & 4th
Cormac McCarthy & Sammie Haynes, "Hard Times and Good Times in America" in Metro Public Schools
February 4th
NARAS presents "I've Sung This Song" with Nora Guthrie & Harold Leventhal, Ford Theater, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
February 5th
"Nashville Sings Woody" featuring Arlo Guthrie, Nanci Griffith, Marty Stuart, Janis Ian, Rablin' Jack Elliott, Peter Rowan & Tim O'Brien, Guy Clark, and more; Ryman Auditorium (615-458-8700) (Click here for complete Artist list)
February 6th
"Alternative Woody" featuring Blackfire and Wenzel at The End
February 8th
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum presents "Can You Get from the Dust Bowl to Music Row?" Journalist/historian Dave Marsh leads a panel of experts and artists discussing how Woody's songs relate to country's populist traditions; Ford Theater
February 9th
Bongo After Hours, "Hard Times and Good Times in America" show with Cormac McCarthy & Sammie Haynes, Bongo Java - Belmont Blvd (ages 12 & up)
February 9th
WRLT Lightning 100's "Nashville Sunday Night Live" 3rd & Lindsley featuring Paul Burch and others

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