A version of this review appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Various artists “Woody at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center” CD/DVD (Legacy Recordings)
The far-reaching nature of Woody Guthrie’s music and legacy is showcased on the “Woody at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center” concert album and DVD.
The star-studded lineup for the concert, the official U.S. conclusion of last year’s centennial celebration in honor of the Okemah native, ranges from Heartland rocker John Mellencap and bluegrass greats The Del McCoury Band to singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco and alt-country standout Roseanne Cash.
But the 19-track album also boasts a great cross-section of the late, great singer-songwriter’s work, including children’s songs, ballads, Dust Bowl odes, protest anthems and historical yarns. Several of the selections are Guthrie lyrics that the performers set to music themselves.
Old-time string band Old Crow Medicine gets the joyful birthday party started with the folk icon’s familiar songs “Howdi Do” and “Union Maid.” Oklahoma-bred Guthrie family friend Jimmy LaFave, as usual, does right by his musical hero with his stellar rendition of “Hard Travelin’,” while fellow Woody Guthrie Folk Festival frequenter Joel Rafael ably treads similar sonic territory with “Ramblin’ Reckless Hobo.” Aged Guthrie protégé Ramblin’ Jack Elliott compellingly relates the story of the “1913 Massacre.”
Donovan reprises his cover of the children’s song “Riding in My Car,” Jackson Browne tenderly shares the love letter “You Know the Night,” and Rage Against the Machine guitarist and rabble-rouser Tom Morello updates “Ease My Revolutionary Mind” for the 21st century.
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