Wednesday 30 Jul

Power Pyramid - The God Drums

Power Pyramid doesn’t have much patience for nonsense. That appears to be the takeaway from the Oklahoma City quintet’s last 10 months, which brought The God Drums in September, the Insomnia EP in January and its latest, self-titled effort in July.

07/29/2014 | Comments 0

TJ Mayes - "When Love Comes Down"

’50s era rock ’n’ roll had been long overdue for a rebirth. Thankfully, the stockpile of capable luminaries has not been in short supply over the past few years. 

07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Boare - "playdatshit"

The world is in the midst of an electronic music renaissance, and you find most of this boon of producers laying claim to the club-friendly, bass-dropping variety, holing up in the the free-flowing world of hip-hop beatmaking or pitching their tent on the out-there, boundary-pushing EDM camp.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broncho - "Class Historian"

Broncho has never been hurting in the hook department. The success of the trio’s 2011 debut, Can’t Get Past the Lips, was predicated mostly on its ability to marry melodies with kinetic guitar riffs and anarchic energy. Yet we’ve heard nothing to the degree of pure pop catchiness on display in “Class Historian,” the new single from Broncho’s upcoming sophomore album, Just Enough Hip to Be Woman.
07/23/2014 | Comments 0

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Folk hero

Folk hero

Those musicians influenced by Woody Guthrie will pay tribute to him at the annual folk festival that proudly bears his name.

Joshua Boydston July 13th, 2011

Woody Guthrie Folk Festival featuring Jimmy LaFave, Stoney LaRue, Shawn Mullins and more
Okemah 918-623-2440

Woody Guthrie was a masterful writer, a talented musician and a brilliant visionary. For many, like performer Jimmy LaFave, it’s a shame he’s not always remembered as such.

“There’s a real treasure here,” said LaFave, who performs Friday at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, which runs today through Sunday. “There’s been a real injustice done to this guy’s memory, and we’ve got to correct that. We should embrace this man’s legacy. We can learn a lot from him.”

Now in its thirteenth year, the festival has gathered fervent fans and major musicians under the unyielding heat of Guthrie’s native Okemah to celebrate his life and influence. It’s a can’t-miss event for a particular populace that continues to marvel and adore him so much.

“It’s a reunion for us musicians,” said Slaid Cleaves, taking the stage on Thursday. “It’s special to be where Woody grew up. Echoes of those memories still linger.”

It’s a sort of magical summer camp for these performers, many of whom return year after year, and all of whom play for free. They reminisce over their first encounters with Guthrie’s music — nearly always singing along with “This Land Is Your Land” in elementary school — and then discovering the importance of his work after their lives lead toward the path of music.

“Most music was made just as pure entertainment,” said Gretchen Peters, who plays Friday and has written hits for the likes of George Strait and Neil Diamond. “His led to the dawning — in my mind — that music could be about more than ‘I love you, baby’ sort of stuff.”

Nearly all studied his songs tirelessly, yearning to capture the substance and weight he managed to convey through his plain, folksy (but endlessly clever) demeanor and writing style. “The simplicity and power of his songwriting served as a guidepost for my early writing. It’s a good yardstick to put your songs up against,” Cleaves said. “It’s hard to measure up, though.”

Peters agreed. “He took the specific and made it universal,” she said. “That’s the most important thing you can do as a songwriter. If you are going to involve people emotionally, if you are going to get them where they live, you have to tell stories that they can believe and invest themselves in. Woody was a master of that.”

Much of that talent got lost in politics. Muckraking tarnished his legacy in the minds of some. He was labeled a radical leftie and a communist, but continued to brandish his guitar to fight injustices until Huntington’s disease stole his health and ability to create.

Luckily, time didn’t forget Guthrie; folk, rock, punk and even political figureheads continually cite the importance of his work. Now, he’s assuming a spot alongside Will Rogers as one of the state’s most beloved figures. In many minds, that’s taken far too long.

“The state is slowly, thank goodness, coming to terms with the impact of Woody Guthrie,” LaFave said. “He’s finally getting his due, being celebrated as one of the great native sons of Oklahoma. He’s the most famous Oklahoman in the world, an anomaly of a human being … people like him don’t come along too often.”

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