Woody Guthrie Folk Festival expands schedule for '05
By media release
Jul 10, 2005
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Rob Wasserman, Kevin Welch, Jimmy LaFave, Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman and dozens of other American and international folk music stars are scheduled for the eighth annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, July 13-17, 2005, celebrating the life and rich musical legacy of one of America¹s greatest folk music songwriters and troubadours, Woody Guthrie. The festival takes place in the late icon's hometown of Okemah, Okla., just east of Oklahoma City.

The eighth annual festival will feature a gaggle of Guthries. Woody's son, feisty folksinger Arlo Guthrie, will be visiting the festival and may perform. Arlo's daughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, will perform with her husband Johnny Irion on the heels of their acclaimed new disc, Exploration, released this spring on New West Records. Sarah Lee joins brother Abe Guthrie and Guthrie relatives Cathy Guthrie and Annie Guthrie in the group G-Babes.

Meanwhile, Cathy Guthrie branches out the family tree even further by performing in the duo Folk Uke with Amy Nelson ‹ daughter of the one and only Willie Nelson. The festival¹s perennial guest of honor Mary Jo Edgmon, Guthrie's younger sister, will be there, as well.

The lineup includes more than 60 other artists of every genre folk, alt-country, rock, Red Dirt, bluegrass and more who cite Guthrie's many songs and pages of prose as a significant inspiration on their own creativity. And this year's bill reaches into new styles and genres.

The festival begins with a ticketed event, the annual Tribute to Woody Guthrie, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, at the historic Crystal Theater in downtown Okemah. Modeled after the successful Guthrie tribute concerts held in New York in 1968 and Los Angeles in 1970 (which featured Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger and more), this show features festival artists performing Guthrie songs between narrated passages from Woody's poetry and prose. This year the show is titled "Woody Sez," after the name of the humorous newspaper column Guthrie wrote throughout the '40s. Scheduled to perform at this fund-raising event are Jimmy LaFave, Ellis Paul, Walter Strauss, The Burns Sisters, Bob Childers, Johnsmith, Audrey Auld Mezera, Steppin' In It, Mary Reynolds, Joel Rafael, Darcie Deaville, The Red Dirt Rangers, Rob McNurlin, Ronny Elliott, Kevin So and Liz Queler, all backed by Terry "Buffalo" Ware and the festival house band. This year's tribute show will be filmed for a DVD documentary. This ticketed event helps raise money to fund the rest of the festival. Tickets are $25 general admission or $35 Gold Circle seating (which includes a catered reception with the performers after the show) and are available now through www.gettix.net or by calling toll-free (866) 443-8849.

The next four days are filled with free concerts, throughout the afternoons at several indoor venues in downtown Okemah and the main stage performances at night at the Pastures of Plenty Amphitheater. Thursday, July 14's main stage lineup features festival favorites Johnsmith, the irascible Ronny Elliott, the Burns Sisters trio, Oklahoma¹s acclaimed Red Dirt Rangers, Tracy Grammer and Nashville singer-songwriter Kevin Welch. Amphitheater acts on Friday, July 15, include Austin, Texas, luminaries Brandon Jenkins and Darcie Deaville, prince of peaceful folk music Joel Rafael, Texas singer-songwriter Eric Taylor, American Indian artist Bill Miller and the Spirit of Guthrie, an all-star troupe summoning Guthrie's spirit comprised of Vince Herman (singer for jam band Leftover Salmon), Rob Wasserman (bassist who's played with everyone from Elvis Costello to the Grateful Dead), singer-songwriter Jim Page and lauded New Orleans violinist Theresa Andersson. July 16, Saturday night's main bill includes Kevin So, David & Adam Amram, Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Ellis Paul and Jimmy LaFave.

The festival concludes with the annual "Hoot for Huntington's," at noon Sunday, July 17, in the Crystal Theater. It¹s a free-form jam by various festival performers. Admission is free, but donations to the Oklahoma chapter of the Huntington¹s Disease Society of America are encouraged. The event raises awareness of Huntington's disease, the genetic neurological disorder from which Guthrie and his mother suffered.

Evening festival performances begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Pastures of Plenty Amphitheater, just east of Okemah. The shows are free, though there is a $10 parking fee at the amphitheater. Morning and afternoon performances take place at the Crystal Theater and the Brick Street Café in downtown Okemah; this year's bills include a wide range of artists from Australia native Audrey Auld Mezera to Red Dirt music legend Oklahoma's own Bob Childers.

Musicians can sign up to perform at open-microphone events from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Lou¹s Rocky Road Tavern, also downtown.

In addition to the many musical performances, other events include the children's festival, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Okemah's City Park, featuring many activities for kids (petting zoo, rock climbing wall, games, food, crafts), plus special kid-friendly performances by festival artists such as the Red Dirt Rangers, Magpie and Darcie Deaville.

Panel discussions and workshop schedules will be announced soon.

This annual concert event brings together artists and fans who embrace the energized and vigorous spirit of Woody Guthrie (1912-67), author of such American musical chronicles as "This Land Is Land," "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya," "Oklahoma Hills," "Pastures of Plenty" and thousands of others.

His songs and writings have inspired creative people of every genre around the world, and he hammered out the template most socially conscious folk and rock musicians have used to shape their own creativity and expressions, from Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to previous festival performers Billy Bragg and Steve Earle.

The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival is organized and produced by the Woody Guthrie Coalition, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit corporation, and the event is made possible in part by grants provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Viersen Family Foundation. Other sponsors of the 2005 festival include New Dominion LLC, Grape Ranch, Taylor Guitars, Intellitouch Tuners, SBC, Brick Street Café, Okemah Days Inn, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town Casino, Okemah Care Center, First Family Federal Credit Union and the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO.

For more information about the artists, schedules and events, please visit our Web site, www.woodyguthrie.com, or call (918) 623-2440.