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5 must-see performers at this weekend's Woody Guthrie Folk Festival

by Brandy McDonnell Published: July 11, 2014
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Arlo Guthie peforms during the 13th annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Okla., Wednesday, July 14, 2010. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Arlo Guthie peforms during the 13th annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Okla., Wednesday, July 14, 2010. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.

The 17th annual WoodyFest continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a poetry reading, historical presentations, benefit events, and, yes, lots of live music at various venues in Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah.

The nonprofit Woody Guthrie Coalition organizes the festival each year around the famed minstrel’s July 14 birthday. Woody Guthrie, who died of Huntington’s disease in 1967, would have been 102 this year — and his legacy only seems to be growing.

Here are my picks for the five must-see performers playing WoodyFest this weekend:

Arlo Guthrie: He’s not just Woody Guthrie’s son, he’s a folk legend in his own right. Arlo only makes it to Okemah for his father’s namesake festival every couple of years — this will be his eighth WoodyFest appearance — so you don’t want to miss his singing, strumming and, best of all, storytelling. 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Pastures of Plenty stage.

John Fullbright will perform Saturday at the 2014 WoodyFest. Photo by Vicki Farmer
John Fullbright will perform Saturday at the 2014 WoodyFest. Photo by Vicki Farmer

John Fullbright: The rising Americana star, 26, hails from nearby Bearden, Okla., so he came of age as a performer at WoodyFest, which he has been attending since he was 16 years old. 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Pastures of Plenty stage.

Woody Guthrie Folk Festival on Thursday, July 11, 2013 in Okemah, Okla.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Woody Guthrie Folk Festival on Thursday, July 11, 2013 in Okemah, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

David Amram: For more than a decade, the renowned jazz musician and composer has made the annual pilgrimage to Okemah from his home base of Putnam Valley, N.Y., and he has become practically every WoodyFest regular’s favorite collaborator. It’s not just the multi-instrumentalist’s penny whistle solos that are captivating: Amram is one of the few performers who actually met Woody himself. 3 p.m. Friday, Crystal Theatre.

Rebecca Loebe performs Saturday at WoodyFest. Photo provided
Rebecca Loebe performs Saturday at WoodyFest. Photo provided

Rebecca Loebe: The indie folk songbird may look familiar from her run on the debut season of “The Voice” back in 2011. Her potent pipes last year landed her on the top 10 of The Alternate Root magazine’s list of the top 30 female vocalist working today, ahead of notables like Grace Potter, Shawn Colvin and Sarah McLachlan. Along with performing, Loebe will record an episode of the radio show “Art of the Song” at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Okemah. Noon Saturday, Crystal Theatre.

Wink Burcham performs today at WoodyFest. Photo provided.
Wink Burcham performs today at WoodyFest. Photo provided.

Wink Burcham: The New Tulsa Sound is in good hands with this talented Oklahoma singer-songwriter, whose blending of old-fashioned country, grass-roots folk and Motown-inspired blues is right at home at WoodyFest. Noon Friday, Crystal Theatre.

GOING ON

17th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival

When: Through Sunday.

Where: Various venues in Okemah.

What: Musical performances, children’s concerts, open mike, poetry reading and fundraisers for the state chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Festival admission: Free.

Parking: Free for daytime events; $20 per car (including campers) evenings at the Pastures of Plenty Stage.

Information: www.woodyguthrie.com.

-BAM

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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