The music acts have changed with the times, but Woodrow Wilson Guthrie will always be the father of American folk music.
On the eve of his 99th birthday (July 14), the town of Okemah prepares to celebrate its favorite son and his rambling ways the same way it has every year: a party.
The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, or simply WoodyFest, runs July 13-17 at several locations in Okemah (including the Crystal Theatre). Rock and folk music icons and life-long collaborators David Crosby and Graham Nash open the event with a show at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa.
In the spirit of Guthrie’s compassion for Dust Bowl wayfarers, the disenfranchised and displaced everywhere, WoodyFest is free and open to the public from July 14-17.
Just as justice and the dream of a simple, free society permeates Guthrie’s art, consciousness continues to inform the work of today’s folk artists, whether pure acoustic or on the electric detour another Guthrie devotee, Bob Dylan, took in 1965.
A curious and restless nature means folk music is as alive as it ever was, and WoodyFest has the lineup to prove it.
This year’s festival has scheduled appearances from Jimmy LaFave, Ellis Paul, Butch Hancock, the Red Dirt Rangers, Stoney LaRue, Susan Herndon, Mountain Sprout, Gretchen Peters and many, many others.
Also included in that bunch are Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Annie Guthrie (whose father, Arlo, headlined last year’s festival) and his great-grandson, Krishna Guthrie, part of the ever-growing first family of folk.
The 14th annual festival features a guitar workshop, songwriting contest and vendors touting arts, crafts and foods.
For a complete festival guide, go to www.woodyguthrie.com.