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

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