Another Mardi Gras Party Playlist: My Love Affair with the Music of New Orleans, Vol. 3

A delicious King Cake from Merritt's Bakery, midtown Tulsa.

A delicious King Cake from Merritt’s Bakery, midtown Tulsa.

Happy Mardi Gras Day 2013, you all! Here’s a continuation of the great Mardi Gras party music that I started last year. You can listen to this playlist right here in the 8Tracks player below. I also had the pleasure of being the guest on the  Studio Tulsa radio show today, talking about the varied traditions of Mardi Gras music with host Rich Fisher. You can listen to the episode online and as a podcast once it is archived at the show’s page: Studio Tulsa on KWGS 89.5 FM – Public Radio Tulsa. Thanks to Rich Fisher, show producer Scott Gregory and Public Radio Tulsa for featuring this incredible musical heritage. I’m hoping to get a good bowl of gumbo sometime today and keep on snacking on the tasty King Cake you see in the photo here. Let the good times roll, friends!

From my one brief visit to New Orleans in 1998. We were there a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras Day and caught one of the early, small parades that was going by outside our hotel one night.

From my one brief visit to New Orleans in 1998. We were there a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras Day and caught one of the early, small parades that was going by outside our hotel one night.

And here’s a listing of what’s on the playlist:

Mardi Gras Party Vol 2 playlist

Click on the playlist photo for easier reading…

Celebrating John Cage at 100

This morning I enjoyed reading the piece (linked at the bottom) by John Diliberto, host of the Echoes radio show and writer of the Echoes blog, celebrating the incomparable John Cage in honor of his 100th birthday. (Hmm, Cage and Woody Guthrie were both born in 1912 – an interesting musical legacy left by those two.) I especially liked that Diliberto highlighted Cage’s manifesto to listen to the world around you. It reminds me of one of the best pieces of writing wisdom I ever received, from the poet Galway Kinnell when he was brought in for a reading by my writing teacher Bill Minor at Monterey Peninsula College. I asked him what advice he could give to a young writer (I was 19 or 20 at the time, in 1983 or ’84) and Kinnell answered with something along the lines of, “Listen. Listen to the sounds of nature, to the machines, to people, to your own breath – listen to everything around you and you’ll hear the music and poetry of life.” Maybe he was a fan of John Cage? It was memorable advice that resonates with me to this day.

My copy of John Cage’s book of lectures and writings, Silence. First published in 1961, this is a 1973 trade paperback edition from Wesleyan University Press.

I don’t even know Cage’s music all that well, but I’ve always admired the way he fearlessly explored the further boundaries of musical expression and opened new frontiers for musicians that have followed in his footsteps and now seek new paths themselves. He was infamous for his avant garde work but he could also write exquisite melodies. I have an old copy of John Cage’s book, Silence, that I’ll delve into after this.

As I write this morning, I’m listening to the second YouTube piece linked on Diliberto’s blog post, Cage’s 1948 composition “In a Landscape,” as performed by pianist Stephen Drury. If you have a spare 9:49 to listen to this, even in the background, I encourage you to do so. It’s simply beautiful. I have the window open and can hear the birds and the crickets and the hum of the air conditioner and the far off sound of cars on the streets, and now a dog barking, all playing along with the tune, making the music and poetry of life…

Sshhhhhhh. John Cage at 100.

by John Diliberto

FURTHER READING

The John Cage Centennial – and much more info at the official John Cage Trust website.

Music Is Everywhere: John Cage at 100 – a nice audio story by Tom Vitale that I heard on NPR’s All Things Considered evening news after writing this post.

The John Cage Century – by Alex Ross at The New Yorker.

Happy Birthday to John Cage, Who Made a Lot of People Angry - a nice brief discussion of his most infamous work, 4:33, at the Smithsonian blog.

Silence and Sound: Five Ways of Understanding John Cage – by Anastasia Tsioulcas at NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog.

33 Musicians on What John Cage Communicates – compiled by Max Blau at NPR Music.

John Cage Recital? Take the A Train – by Allan Kozinn at the New York Times.

From Russia with Love…for John Cage – by Stephen Smoliar – a look at Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov’s new recording, John Cage: As it is, on ECM Records – at the Examiner.com.

The John Cage Prepared Piano App

Happy 100th Birthday, Woody Guthrie!

Photo by Al Aumuller. March 8, 1943. Courtesy of Woody Guthrie Archives

Folks, turn on this stream of music by Woody and many others singing his songs and songs about him, and let it play all day long as we celebrate his creative spirit…

This Music Was Made For You and Me!

WOODY GUTHRIE CENTENNIAL STREAM from FolkAlley.com – WKSU Kent, Ohio – and also available through NPR Music. Support public radio!

~~~~~

Happy One Hunnerdth Birthday, Woody Guthrie! Ju-ly Fourteen, Nineteen Twelve you came into this world in a little town in the middle of the young state of Oklahoma and who woulda thunk what roads you would travel and what songs you would write and sing (3000 of ‘em!) and what funny pictures you would draw and what joy and compassion you would bring to folks. You sure weren’t perfect – we know that – but we love ya’ just the same. Thanks, Woody – and thanks to your family and all the musicians and festival organizers and radio broadcasters and writers and film-makers and museum curators and all the listeners for keeping your spirit alive.

You can check out my previous posts and the accompanying links there to find out more about Woody Guthrie…

Jackson Browne Added to Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert Line Up!

courtesy of jacksonbrowne.com

 The following press release has just confirmed the expected addition of Jackson Browne to the line up of the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert taking place at the Brady Theater in Tulsa on Saturday, March 10. I had heard through the grapevine that this was in the works, and the Grammy Museum just made it official. Browne’s socio-politically active musicianship is a perfect fit for this Woody Guthrie tribute. His presence adds even more prestige and excitement to this performance that already features a stellar gathering of artists. There’s been some good buzz about this show around town and this announcement is sure to kick things up a notch. And I’m still hoping that more of the musical Guthries will be making an appearance at the show also. I’ve got my tickets – don’t wait to get yours as this show may be sold out. Hope to see many of you Tulsans at the Brady one week from this Saturday! Read the whole announcement for more news about the show and the events in celebration of Woody’s 100th.

The full text of the press release sent out via e-mail by the Grammy Museum, Feb. 29, 2012:

For Immediate Release

The GRAMMY Museum, Woody Guthrie Publications and The Woody Guthrie Archives Announce Addition To Tulsa’s

This Land Is Your Land ~ The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert Lineup

 Jackson Browne To Join John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Rosanne Cash, Del McCoury Band, The Flaming Lips, Old Crow Medicine Show,

HANSON, Tim O’Brien and Jimmy LaFave

 Tickets On Sale Now At http://protixonline.com/

 LOS ANGELES (Feb. 29, 2012) – The LA-based GRAMMY Museum, in conjunction with Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. and the Woody Guthrie Archives, has announced today the addition of Jackson Browne as a special guest to the This Land Is Your Land ~ The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert lineup in Tulsa, Okla.  Taking place Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. at The Brady Theater, the concert serves as the pinnacle of the Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration in Tulsa, and is the first installment of the series.  Jackson Browne joins the previously announced lineup of John Mellencamp, Arlo Guthrie, Rosanne Cash, Del McCoury Band, The Flaming Lips, Old Crow Medicine Show, HANSON, Tim O’Brien and Jimmy LaFave, who will be performing various Guthrie classics.  Author Michael Wallis and poet Joy Harjo will also be participating as narrators for the show using various Woody Guthrie texts.

“The goal of The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert is not just to pay tribute to Guthrie’s obvious contributions to American music, but to also broaden the national understanding of his cultural impact,” said GRAMMY Museum Executive Director, Bob Santelli.  “The line-up scheduled for the Brady Theater show in Tulsa speaks volumes about Guthrie’s influence.  It’s truly an honor to be producing this all-star event.”

Woody Guthrie’s sister, Mary Jo Edgmon, will also be attending the celebration, and will be receiving a GRAMMY Museum American Music History plaque on behalf of Woody’s birthplace, Okemah, OK to honor their annual Woody Guthrie Festival.

Designed to celebrate Guthrie’s extraordinary body of work and impact on American music, Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration, will take place March 5 – 11.  In addition to the concert, the celebration will include a George Kaiser Family Foundation-sponsored exhibition titled Woody at One Hundred: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912-2012 atGilcrease Museum, various educational programming and a conference at The University of Tulsa titled “Different Shades of Red.”  The George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), a Tulsa-based charitable organization, purchased the Woody Guthrie Archives in 2011 from Woody Guthrie Publications in New York and will create a permanent home for the Archives and make Guthrie’s collection available for research and education in downtown Tulsa. 

The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration is one of the largest and most comprehensive Centennial celebrations ever staged for an American music icon.  For the most up-to-date information and a complete schedule of events for the entire Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration, visit www.woody100.com.

About The GRAMMY Museum

Paying tribute to music’s rich cultural history, this one-of-a-kind, 21st-century Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music — the GRAMMY Award. The GRAMMY Museum features 30,000 square feet of interactive and multimedia exhibits located within L.A. LIVE, the downtown Los Angeles sports, entertainment and residential district. Through thought-provoking and dynamic public and educational programs and exhibits, guests will experience music from a never-before-seen insider perspective that only The GRAMMY Museum can deliver. www.grammymuseum.org

 

About Woody Guthrie Publications

Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. maintains Woody Guthrie’s catalog of music and is business administrator for Woody Guthrie’s creative works. Additionally Woody Guthrie Publications produces and sponsors new works based on his life, legacy and creative catalog. www.woodyguthrie.org

 

About The Woody Guthrie Archives

Established in 1972, the Woody Guthrie Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves as administrator and caretaker of the Woody Guthrie Archives.  Dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of information about Woody Guthrie’s vast cultural legacy, the Woody Guthrie Archives houses the largest collection of Woody Guthrie material in the world.  Since it’s opening in 1996, the Woody Guthrie Archives has been a major success becoming an important resource for the general public, musicians, singers, songwriters, scholars, and public and private cultural institutions wishing to access the research collection. The Archives contains a wealth of primary source material pertinent to the study of Woody Guthrie, and his life and times in America during the 20th Century. www.woodyguthrie.org

About George Kaiser Family Foundation

George Kaiser Family Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement. Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, GKFF works primarily on initiatives developed in collaboration with Tulsa-based direct service organizations. For more information about George Kaiser Family Foundation, visit www.gkff.org

(END OF PRESS RELEASE)

FURTHER EXPLORATION

Performers Announced for Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert in Tulsa

Woody Guthrie Archives Comin’ Home to Tulsa

Tulsa World newspaper’s Woody Comes Home online feature

A Mardi Gras Party Playlist: My Love Affair with the Music of New Orleans, Vol. 2

Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo: the greatest album of New Orleans music ever? (image courtesy of Sunnyside Records.com)

Wow, Fat Tuesday really caught me by surprise this year. Although it’s a bit late, here’s a mix of New Orleans and Louisiana music to help you celebrate Mardi Gras in style. This mix features brass bands, piano boogie and some zydeco, all with a bit of funk on the side – good for listening to at any time of the year. It’s 78 minutes of tunes that’ll get any party started and keep it goin’! I chose these songs because I think they capture the spirit of Mardi Gras with their swingin’ grooves and all of the performers are deeply rooted in the musical heritage of NOLA. Listening to these tunes is sure to bring a smile to your face and some boogie to your feet. I swear, every time I hear Professor Longhair’s version of “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” from the album Rock ‘n’ Roll Gumbo, it makes me feel good.

Poster from Le Vieux Carre (the "old quarter," a.k.a. the French Quarter) that hangs in my office/music library.

I created this playlist at 8tracks.com and you can listen to it right here in the player below. There are limitations: it only lists the song playing at the moment, and you can skip forward to the next song but not back to previous songs. One nice thing is that there’s an iTunes “Buy” button to take you directly to the songs for purchase. (This embedded player does not work on certain mobile devices. Try going directly to the playlist at 8tracks.com) I’ve also listed the tracks in order below the player. Laissez les bon temps rouler, you all!

Oh, and Happy Second Birthday to Jukebox Delirium…

If you’re a Rhapsody digital jukebox subscriber, you can also listen to this playlist on my Rhapsody page.

Mardi Gras Party 2012! (A Jukebox Delirium Playlist)

Artist / Song /  Album / Year

  1. Rebirth Brass Band: When the Saints Go Marchin’ In. Do Watcha Wanna, 1997.
  2. Dr. John: Iko Iko. Dr. John’s Gumbo, 1972.
  3. Professor Longhair: Mardi Gras In New Orleans. Rock ‘n’ Roll Gumbo, 1977.
  4. Buckwheat Zydeco: Ma ‘Tit Fille. Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection, 1993.
  5. Dave Bartholomew & Maryland Jazz Band of Cologne: New Second Line. New Orleans ‘Yea Yea’ Breakdown, 1995.
  6. The Neville Brothers: Hey Pocky Way. Fiyo On The Bayou, 1981.
  7. Professor Longhair: Big Chief. Crawfish Fiesta, 1980.
  8. Clifton Chenier and His Red Hot Louisiana Band: Mardi Gras Boogie. In New Orleans, 1978.
  9. Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Kidd Jordan’s Second Line. The New Orleans Album, 1989.
  10. Dr. John: Let The Good Times Roll. Dr. John’s Gumbo, 1972.
  11. Charmaine Neville Band: carnival time. Queen of the Mardi Gras, 1998.
  12. Buckwheat Zydeco: Hot Tamale Baby. Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection, 1993.
  13. Earl King: Street Parade. Street Parade, 1981.
  14. The New Birth Brass Band: Li’l Liza Jane. D-Boy, 1997.
  15. BeauSoleil: Zydeco Gris Gris. Bayou Boogie, 1987.
  16. Rebirth Brass Band: Do Whatcha Wanna. Do Watcha Wanna, 1997.
  17. Irvin Mayfield: Old Time Indians Meeting of the Chiefs (Los Hombres Calientes With Cyril Neville, Donald Harrison Jr. & Big Chief Bo Dollis Sr.) A Love Letter to New Orleans, 2011.

'Fess doing his thing. (image courtesy of Sunnyside Records.com)

FURTHER EXPLORATION

Biography of Professor Longhair at Sunnyside Records website

Let the Good Times Roll! My Love Affair with the Music of New Orleans, Vol. 1 – The post that launched Jukebox Delirium on Mardi Gras Day, 2010.

Free Downloads: Remixes by Ra Ra Riot and the Submarines

Ra Ra Riot. Courtesy of rarariot.com

Through a recent e-mail newsletter, Ra Ra Riot has made these two songs available for free download via Soundcloud. You can use the embedded player below to listen to and/or download the songs. If you like well-crafted indie rock-techno pop, I think you’ll like these tunes.

#1 is the Submarines remix of the Ra Ra Riot song “Oh, La” which, according to their newsletter of 30 January 2012, has never been released anywhere before. The original version of the song appeared on their excellent 2008 album The Rhumb Line. This remixed version has a particularly Phoenix-like quality to it, if perhaps a little bit more slick.

The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks ep cover. Courtesy of the submarines.com.

#2 is the Ra Ra Riot remix of the Submarines song “Submarine Symphonika” which was released on the Honeysuckle Remixes ep in 2010. The original version appeared on their 2008 album Honeysuckle Weeks.

Enjoy the free music! (I hope to create a page with links to free – and legal – downloads soon…)

(And it appears that the Soundcloud player does not load on the mobile version of the blog; you can go to this Soundcloud web page directly for the player…)

FURTHER EXPLORATION

Ra Ra Riot

The Submarines

Performers Announced for Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert in Tulsa

Other events include symposium, traveling exhibit and more concerts

Folks, the line-up has been announced for what is likely to be the concert event of the year for Tulsa, and perhaps the whole Midwest/Southern Plains. In conjunction with the Woody Guthrie Centennial celebrations taking place around the world in 2012, there are five major concerts being held: three on the East coast, one on the West coast, and one – the first one – right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Brady Theater (which is only two years away from its centennial, having been built in 1914.)

Brady Theater (known then as the Tulsa Municipal Theater) 1917. Photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.

The concert, being held on Saturday, March 10, is billed as This Land Is Your Land – Woody Guthrie at 100, The Midwest Celebration and now the Woody at 100 website has listed the performers who are scheduled to perform at this show. I know people were figuring that Arlo would be involved, but I don’t think anyone had an idea about just how diverse a line-up would be hitting the Brady stage. It goes to show how much Woody’s music means to so many different artists. As of right now, because these things are always subject to change, the list of performers includes:

Wow! That’s gonna be one heck of a show. The somewhat surprising acts on this list are The Flaming Lips and Hanson, but with those bands perhaps being Oklahoma’s most widely popular acts touring today, it makes sense having them on the bill and, along with John Mellencamp, will add some serious rock mojo to the festivities. (And I’ve said this to many people before, if all you remember of Hanson is “Mmm Bop,” you should check out their music again. Those guys have forged their own musical path since their days of teen stardom and are a seriously fun pop-rock band.) Having the Flaming Lips up there with their epic weirdness will surely make for a much more interesting night. How can you go wrong with the band that wrote Oklahoma’s official state rock song? With all the other performers listed – Rosanne Cash, Del McCoury, Old Crow Medicine Show, Tim O’Brien, Jimmy Lafave – you’ve got some of the best Country/Folk/Americana talent out there coming to town for what should be an unforgettable evening of music. Maybe some of the other musical Guthries – Arlo’s offspring Abe, Sarah Lee and Cathy, and step-daughter Annie – will also make a surprise appearance? It wouldn’t be a birthday party for Woody without ‘em!

From Left: Sarah Lee Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Abe Guthrie and Johnny Irion (Sarah Lee's husband.) Photo courtesy of Rising Son Records.

According to a press release from the Woody at 100 website, ticket prices for this concert will range from $45 – $250; I can only hope that there will be plenty of tickets at the lower price levels to make this event somewhat accessible to most people. It is, after all, a celebration of a true populist who was a friend to everyday folks. Tickets are slated to go on sale Saturday, February 4 at 10 a.m. CST through ProTix.

This will be a special week in Tulsa not only for this incredible concert but also because there are several other Woody Guthrie Centennial events that’ll be happening. Here’s a quick look at those events; click the hot links to get more details about each of them as available.

  • Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912 -2012. Opening at the Gilcrease Museum on February 5 and running through April 29, this exhibit will be a comprehensive look at Woody’s life through his archives. The Gilcrease website states that “On display for the first time ever will be the hand-written lyrics of Guthrie’s famous ballad, ‘This Land Is You Land’.” It’ll be worth the price of admission just for that, in my book.
  • Different Shades of Red: Woody Guthrie and the Oklahoma Experience at 100. This symposium sponsored by the University of Tulsa takes place at their new Lorton Performance Center on Saturday, March 10 and will feature three panel sessions with noted Woody Guthrie scholars and writers. The cost for the all-day symposium is $40, which includes lunch, and there’s a student discount price of $15. It also states that people registering for the symposium by Friday, February 3 will have a special opportunity to purchase advance tickets for the concert at the Brady Theater.
  •  Symphonic Variations of a Song by Woody Guthrie.  This event is listed with some details in the Woody at 100 press release and here is what that press release states: “Continuing the celebration on March 8 will be a special performance by the Oklahoma Jazz & Roots Music Symphony Orchestra of Symphonic Variations of a Song by Woody Guthrie , conducted and composed by David Amram. Commissioned by Woody Guthrie Publications and featuring a special introduction by Nora Guthrie, the concert will include additional performances by David Amram with Red Dirt Rangers, and other special guest star appearances by musicians and singers from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.  The concert will take place at Lorton Hall at the University of Tulsa.” The event has yet to be listed on the University of Tulsa’s events calendar for that week. David Amram has come to TU several times and his website confirms this event, but without details about where it will take place: “March 5-11 – Woody Guthrie Centennial, Tulsa, OK; Amram rehearses and conducts his Symphonic Variations on a Song By Woody Guthrie, as well as works by Aaron Copeland and Duke Ellington (two of Guthrie’s favorite composers). Amram will also perform with outstanding folk, jazz and rock musicians in some of Guthrie’s songs with outstanding folk, jazz and rock musicians to initiate the year-long celebration of Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday.” Stay tuned for further details about this interesting program.

    John Mellencamp. Photo courtesy of Mellencamp.com

Dozens of Woody Guthrie centennial celebration events are taking place all over the globe and you can check the Woody at 100 Calendar for a growing list. I hope there’s an event nearby that you can attend this year.

And don’t forget to listen to your daily dose of Woody with the Woody Guthrie Song of the Day.

FURTHER EXPLORATION

Woody Guthrie biography

Woody Guthrie Archives blog

Woody Guthrie Archives Details

Album Preview: Charlie Haden and Hank Jones – ‘Come Sunday’

(Listen to this album in its entirety for a limited time at NPR’s First Listen page. Go to the “Listen to Albums” page at the top of my site here for an evolving list of websites where you can hear albums streaming on the web.)

courtesy of Decca Records

2012 is off to a glorious start, musically speaking, if this album is any indication. Due out January 10, Come Sunday by bassist Charlie Haden  and pianist Hank Jones is a beautiful, beautiful recording that features truly uplifting tunes. (On a related note, Charlie Haden will be honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award on Tuesday evening, January 10, 2012.) From the opening notes of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” you begin to be transported and no matter what religion you hold dear, or none at all, this music is deeply moving.

This is a perfect example of what I call “Sunday morning music” (and in this case it is quite literally Sunday morning music) - on the quiet side, lyrical, meditative, melodious. The album is a distillation of mostly familiar spirituals and hymns from the American Christian tradition, including a couple of Christmas tunes, sometimes played with a sprightly verve and sometimes with a more prayerful quietude.

 “Before music there was silence, and the duet format allows you to build from the silence in a very special way.” – Charlie Haden, from his website.

Photo by Cheung Ching Ming, courtesy of Decca Records

A follow-up to their 1995 Grammy-nominated album Steal Away: Spirituals, Hymns and Folk SongsCome Sunday is an album by two of the jazz world’s masters playing at their best. And it may serve as one of the lasting reminders of Jones’ gentle genius: he passed away at the age of 91 in May of 2010, just three months after this recording was made.

Both of these men grew up playing music and had strong connections with these kinds of tunes. Charlie Haden, whose career in jazz has spanned from the avant grade to the standards, grew up in Iowa playing country music in the Haden Family Band throughout the midwest. (And did you know that actor/musician Jack Black is Haden’s son-in-law? I didn’t until I was researching this story.) Hank Jones started playing music at an early age and is the eldest of the three Jones brothers who became part of the jazz elite: trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer Elvin Jones were both giants in their own right.

The soul soothing rendition of classical composer Antonin Dvorak’s “Going Home” may be the highlight  for me on an album full of highlights. It’s such a beautiful tune and so lovingly played here. In the early twentieth century, the melody for “Going Home” was borrowed from the “Largo” movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World,” and adapted into a hymn. Dvorak’s symphony itself was partially influenced by folk songs and African-American spirituals. And knowing (as we do now) that Hank Jones passed away just three months after recording the album, it makes hearing this song especially poignant.

Photo by Cheung Ching Ming, courtesy of Decca Records

The session ends fittingly with the title track, a classic from the Duke Ellington songbook, “Come Sunday,” taken from Ellington’s expansive jazz symphony Black, Brown and BeigeIn a soulful reading of this tune that bridges the worlds of spiritual and popular music, Jones and Haden swing us sweetly home.

Photo by Cheung Ching Ming, courtesy of Decca Records

At 43 minutes long this album comes in a bit short of most church services, but it has that same power of lifting up your spirit and carrying you through the days ahead. Amen to brother Hank and brother Charlie for Come Sunday.

Further Exploration

Charlie Haden website

Hank Jones website

New York Times obituary for Hank Jones

Decca/EmArcy Records pages for Come Sunday 

Hear samples from Steal Away at Verve Records

NPR’s story about the Charlie Haden Family & Friends album Rambling Boy

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters

Here’s a song to welcome in the year: The Decemberists – “June Hymn”

The Decemberists. Photo by Autumn de Wilde; courtesy of thedecemberists.com

The Decemberists’ “June Hymn” is perhaps my favorite song of 2011. For sheer song-craft, tunefulness, lyricism and beauty, it can’t be topped – in my book. There were plenty of great songs in 2011, but this is one that I have come back to over and over and it always makes for a heartening listen. Colin Meloy’s poetic lyrics are mixed with a sweet folk melody that swirls around like honey in your soul. Their brilliant album The King Is Dead  also featured a good song called “January Hymn” which might have been more apropos for ringing in 2012, but I couldn’t find an official version of that to post here. Anyway, I’m glad I could use “June Hymn” since I like it even more. This is footage of a live performance of the song at MusicfestNW in their home base of Portland, Oregon in September 2010, from The Decemberists’ official YouTube channel. The King Is Dead (released on January 14, 2011) had not yet come out so this song was new to audiences at that time. It’s beautifully filmed and a wonderful performance of a memorable tune. As the opening line says, “Here’s a hymn to welcome in the day…”

Happy 2012, music lovers…

Woody Guthrie Archives Comin’ Home to Tulsa

Woody at 100 Centennial Celebrations Abound in Oklahoma

Photographer unknown; circa, 1945. Courtesy of Woody Guthrie Archives

As reported in both the Tulsa World and New York Times on December 28, the extensive archives of world-renowned Oklahoma-born folk music icon Woody Guthrie have been purchased by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and will be housed in the Woody Guthrie Center that will be part of the Mathews Warehouse arts complex that is under construction in downtown Tulsa. According to the Tulsa World story, the archives are hoped to be open to the public by the end of 2012, which is the Centennial celebration of Guthrie’s birth in Okemah, Oklahoma on July 14, 1912. The New York Times story states that the archives will not be transferred until sometime in 2013. The archives have been kept for two decades by Guthrie’s daughter Nora, most recently in her Mount Kisco, New York home and non-profit research center, located about 40 miles north of New York City.

(UPDATE: Nora Guthrie has posted a beautifully eloquent letter talking about the decision to transfer the archives and her feelings about the wonderful creative energy that is pulsing through Tulsa right now…)

I had caught wind that Woody’s archives were possibly coming to Tulsa some months ago but had no details about when it would happen. The confirmation that the George Kaiser Family Foundation is bringing these important historical archives to Tulsa is huge news for Oklahoma and adds another exciting element to the revitalization of downtown Tulsa. It’s especially gratifying that the archives are making their way to Oklahoma to coincide with Woody’s 100th birthday celebration events that are taking place in 2012.

One of the biggest events of the worldwide Woody Guthrie Centennial celebrations will be the Midwest Gala Tribute Concert that will take place here in Tulsa at the Brady Theater on March 10, 2012. The first of four such gala concerts to be staged across the nation, the performers for this show have yet to be named. The other gala concerts will take place in Los Angeles (April 14,) Brooklyn, New York (September 22) and Washington, D.C. (October 14.) These concerts are being organized by the GRAMMY Museum  and the Guthrie Family/Woody Guthrie Publications Inc. and are sure to be exceptional evenings of music making and celebrations of Woody’s songs. An ever-growing list of centennial events can be found at the official Centennial website Woody100. Events are being organized in places such as rural Salinas, California (the birthplace of Grapes of Wrath author and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck,) the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, the Folk Alliance International Conference  in Memphis, Tennessee and as far away as Germany and Austria.

Charles Banks Wilson, Woody Guthrie oil on canvas, 2002. Courtesy of Gilcrease Museum website.

Another major local event that appears to be unique to Tulsa is the traveling exhibition “Woody at One Hundred: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912 − 2012” which will be on display at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa from February 5 to April 29, 2012. This is the only published listing for the showing of this exhibit. A description of the exhibit on the Woody100 website states: “This exhibit consists of a collection of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, diaries, notebooks, correspondence, photographs, artworks, ephemera and includes original items, featuring Woody’s original handwritten lyric “This Land Is Your Land”, providing a broad overview of Woody’s creative legacy dated from 1932-1955. The exhibit will also include ephemera and materials related to Woody Guthrie’s musical legacy and heirs.” Sounds like this special exhibit will give folks a nice sneak peek at what treasures the archives contains.

The University of Tulsa adds an educational component to the Centennial affairs when it hosts a symposium entitled “Different Shades of Red” on March 19-21, 2012. According to a TU posting, the symposium “will feature three panels discussing the roots of Guthrie’s political sensibilities, his musical influences, and how his ideas and music continue to resonate through the decades. Jim Hightower is confirmed as the keynote speaker.” The event is chaired by Dr. Brian Hosmer, H.G. Barnard Associate Professor of Western History at TU. The University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library has archived some Woody Guthrie manuscripts and pencil sketches in its Department of Special Collections.

Also taking place in Tulsa is the educational performance program “This Land Is Your Land,”  presented by musicians David Lutken, Helen Russell, Darcie Deaville, and Andy Tierstein. The program’s website describes it as “a theatrical presentation that focuses on Woody Guthrie and American cultural history of the 1920s through the 1940s, from the state of Oklahoma, where Woody spent his boyhood, through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, F.D.R.’s new Deal and WPA, to World War II. The show follows Woody from California to New York and beyond, capturing the personal narrative of a man who spoke for many who had no public voice.” The program is slated to be presented at Tulsa area schools during March 5 − 8.

Scheduled to also take place at Tulsa schools from March 5 − 8 is a multi-media presentation entitled “Life / Legacy of Woody Guthrie” presented by Tiffany Colannino, archivist for the Woody Guthrie Archives. While no details about this program are available at this time, other programs that Ms. Colannino presents include the use of archival photographs, historic audio, and rare film footage to explore Woody’s life, music and art.

Interested folks can sign up for the Woody100.com mailing list to stay connected with Centennial happenings: Go to the Woody 100 mailing list.

As one of the organizers of the All Soul Acoustic Coffeehouse concert series here in Tulsa, I’ve had the privilege of hearing first hand what the Woody Guthrie archives mean for musicians. Slaid Cleaves has performed “This Morning I Am Born Again” from his 2000 album Broke Down, a song for which he composed the music after being allowed to use Woody’s lyrics that had never been recorded. Another one of our performers, Eliza Gilkyson, has played “Peace Call” from her 2004 album Land of Milk and Honey, a song that Woody never recorded in the studio. She came across “Peace Call” in an out of print Woody Guthrie songbook. The most well-known instance of a musician using Woody’s lyrics  from the archives occurred when Nora Guthrie invited English folk-rocker Billy Bragg to write music for a selection of lyrics that were turned into the albums Mermaid Avenue  and Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, on which he was accompanied by the acclaimed rock band Wilco. In this same vein, Nora Guthrie invited singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke to write songs for unused lyrics by Woody which she recorded for her 2008 album The Works. As the kick off event of the Centennial, Brooke will perform a concert at the Lincoln Center in NYC on January 18. The concert is called The Works: Jonatha Brooke Celebrates Woody Guthrie at 100 and will include special guests such as Dar Williams joining Brooke. The most recent recording of Woody’s lyrics appears on the album Note of Hope released in September 2011 by bassist Rob Wasserman and friends, including Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, Kurt Elling, Michael Franti, Van Dyke Parks, Madeleine Peyroux, Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel, Tony Trischka, and Chris Whitley.

Music lovers certainly have a pasture of plenty ahead of them this year as the world celebrates the life and music of a great songster. Stay tuned for further developments…

FURTHER RESOURCES

Official Woody Guthrie Centennial website

Song of the Day: Hear a different Woody Guthrie song every day…

Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives blog 

Woody Guthrie Archives: Go to this site to see lists of the voluminous contents of the archives that will be housed in Tulsa, including artwork, books by and about Woody, correspondence, lyrics (almost 3000,) manuscripts, audio material (studio recordings, family recordings, Woody’s personal record collection, interviews, etc.,) notebooks, periodicals, personal papers, photographs, scrapbooks and special collections. Please note that this site only gives a list of these materials and not any digitized form of the actual documents.

Biography of Woody Guthrie: written by Ed Cray in conjunction with the PBS series American Masters presentation of the film “Woody Guthrie: Ain’t Got No Home” 

Tulsa World newspaper story “Woody Guthrie Archives to be moved to Tulsa” by Wayne Greene

New York Times newspaper story “Bound for Local Glory at Last” by Patricia Cohen

Woody at One Hundred: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912 − 2012:  Traveling exhibit at the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma. February 5 to April 29, 2012

This Land Is Your Land: theatrical presentation in Tulsa area schools, March 5 − 8, 2012