Red dirt musicians having a hootenanny for Woody Guthrie Friday at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Red dirt musicians having a hoot for Woody Guthrie
Several Oklahoma players will perform Friday at a Red Dirt Hootenanny at Cain’s Ballroom as part of this week’s grand Guthrie centennial celebration in Tulsa.
TULSA — The spirit of Woody Guthrie will take up residence Friday night in the famed venue known as “the home of Bob Wills.”
“There’s two main rivers that go into what is red dirt music, and they come from Bob Wills and from Woody Guthrie,” said John Cooper, singer/mandolin player for venerable Payne County band the Red Dirt Rangers.
“You know, Bob Wills, his music was about let’s have fun, let’s dance, let’s forget our troubles, let’s party, let’s have a great time. And Woody’s of course, was hey, let’s look at what’s going on in our world, let’s take a look and see if we can help people with song. And I think red dirt music embodies those two philosophies.”
On Friday night, several Oklahoma musicians will pay homage to Guthrie during a Red Dirt Hootenanny. The lineup will include the Rangers, Monica Taylor, Randy Crouch and Terry “Buffalo” Ware, all frequent performers at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah.
Set in Guthrie’s hometown, the July festival will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year, which also happens to mark the centennial of legendary singer-songwriter’s birth.
As with the festival, the hootenanny will feature all sorts of surprise guests playing music written and inspired by Guthrie.
“Everybody’s going to have so many guests in every set that we can’t even tell you who all’s gonna be there,” said Monica Taylor, a singer-songwriter from Perkins. “It’s a hootenanny for goodness sake. It’s Okie style, so it’s like a family thing.”
Friday’s Red Dirt Hootenanny is part of this week’s grand celebration of Guthrie’s legacy in Tulsa, the future home of the Woody Guthrie Archives.
Acclaimed composer David Amram has invited the Rangers to join the 50-piece Oklahoma Jazz & Roots Music Symphony Orchestra that will perform his 2007 symphony “Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie” Thursday night at Lorton Performance Center at the University of Tulsa.
“It’ll be interesting to see what musicians will be up on that stage,” Cooper said.
Amram also has asked the Rangers to participate in Sunday’s “Jazz Tribute to Woody Guthrie” at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, the University of Tulsa will host a symposium titled “Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100.”
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