ST. CROIX FALLS, Wis. – The Festival Theatre 2012 Music Series continues with a Woody Guthrie tribute concert at 7:30 p.m. March 10 at the historic Civic Auditorium in downtown St. Croix Falls.
"One of a handful of the world’s greatest all-time balladeers", is how writer Studs Terkel described Woody Guthrie. Long time Minnesota folkies Pop Wagner, Charlie Maguire and bluesman Tony Glover come together in a rare collaboration to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth in 1912 with this musical tribute to the songwriter.
Nora Guthrie, Woody’s eldest New York City daughter, says of the trio, "I like and respect you guys a lot …" tipping her hat to the intensive musical craft and the close connections Wagner, Glover, and Maguire have drawn to her famous father.
In addition, the three have recently released a CD for the Woody Guthrie Centennial entitled "Woody Reflected" in close cooperation with the Woody Guthrie Foundation.
Extensive exposure between members of the trio and Guthrie, his children, grandchildren, friends, and archivists at the Woody Guthrie Foundation in New York have resulted in a concert that offers warm reminiscences, humor, and authentic vocal harmonies, accompanied by performances on harmonica, fiddle, and guitars.
The direct legacy of Guthrie himself and some of his closest contemporaries, gives the whole performance of Wagner, Glover, and Maguire, a seasoned and genuine feel which prompted Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Jon Bream to write: "Unless Bob Dylan were to crash the party, you could not find a more apropos trio…to celebrate Woody Guthrie’s Birthday."
Glover actually met Woody Guthrie on a visit that he made with friends at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, in 1962.
Maguire; was tutored and mentored as one of "Woody’s Children" by Guthrie fellow traveler Lee Hays in the 1970’s.
Wagner’s close brush with Guthrie occurred in numerous visits and concerts with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, (Woody’s traveling buddy) over the last 40 years.
All three have expanded upon and written about their musical life with Woody in the 8 pages of liner notes that accompany the "Woody Reflected" CD. You can read them in their entirety at http://www.charliemaguire.com/WoodyReflectedNotes.pdf.
Guthrie classics include "Pastures of Plenty" and "Dust Bowl Refugee" but there is also a rich feast of Woody’s songs not commonly heard but sung for years by Wagner and Maguire in celebration of Guthrie in their own careers. Tony Glover supplied an astounding trove of obscure material in collections he’s shared with the two since 1980.
For example; "Roll on Ocean" mentions Duluth, Minnesota, "High Floods and Low Waters" the flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers; and "Government Road" figures prominently as the song Woody wrote the very next day after completing his seminal song, "This Land Is Your Land", seventy-one years ago in a small hotel room in NYC in the winter of 1940.
The album consists of thirteen of Woody’s songs and his own adaptations of traditional folksongs he sang with the likes of Cisco Houston, Lee Hays, Sonny Terry and others; and one song by Pop Wagner he calls "The Northern Line" written in the Woody Guthrie tradition of freight trains and traveling.
The love of Guthrie lore and song inspired the popular annual concert series in Minneapolis, MN with all three musicians that started in 2009. They have celebrated annually in July on Guthrie’s birthday, leading up to the 100th Anniversary year in 2012.
The concert is just one of a dozen events in the 2012 Music Series, all discounted for subscribers (Flex Pass). Single tickets are $21 ($26 at the door) and available by phone at 715-483-3387 or online at festivaltheatre.org Upcoming events include: Danny Schmidt & Carrie Elkin, Dan Chouinard with Once Upon a River, Jonathan Edwards, Storyhill, and Tish Hinojosa.
Photo: Tony Glover,Charlie Maguire, and Pop Wagner