“And I think it happens even without you knowing it because of his influence.”
When Guthrie's singer-songwriter son Arlo Guthrie announced back in October that his wife of 43 years, Jackie, had died of cancer, Herndon realized the closeness she felt to the Guthrie family.
“It goes beyond the blood. It really does feel like that big Woody Guthrie family, we're all a part of it, just by virtue of those great, great, great songs,” she said. “Especially since he went from Oklahoma to Texas to California to New York, it seems like he really did touch everyone and a lot of the country. He really did gather up the spirit of this land.”
For Jacobs, Woody's Dust Bowl ballads ring particularly true, and their influence can be heard clearly in the Checotah native's story-songs “Farmer's Luck” and “A Little Rain Will Do.” He lives and runs cattle on farmland his grandfather bought more than 100 years ago.
“Both of my sets of grandparents were farmers during the Great Depression, so I kind of heard those stories plus the Woody Guthrie songs,” Jacobs said, adding that the past few years of drought have made the songs particularly resonant.
“Woody was ... telling real stories about real people. He happened to live in a time that he had a lot of fruit to pick from there. And that's kind of what I do; I'm kind of just a folk singer/storyteller.”
Along with the little-known historical epic “Lindbergh,” Jacobs plans to perform Sunday the Guthrie favorite “Do Re Mi” but to slow the tempo to emphasize the sadness of the lyrics.
“Greg is taking a song that's usually played fast ... and making it a completely different interpretation of a fairly familiar Woody Guthrie song, so that's pretty cool,” Johnson said.
“That's one of the things I love about this little show, those moments like that.”