(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Folksingers old and new, including Tom Paxton, Maria Muldaur, Tom Rush, Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, Vance Gilbert, Dan Bern, the Nields, and Tom Chapin, will perform in this summer’s Troubadour Series at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, a season marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the center’s namesake – Woody Guthrie.
To mark what would have been Guthrie’s 100th birthday, the center is planning an afternoon hootenany on Saturday, July 14, 2012, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We are going to have the kind of celebration that we know Woody would want,” said George Laye, director of the Guthrie Center and promoter of the summer concert series known as The Troubadour Series. The “Open House at the Guthrie Center: Celebrating 100 Years of Woody Guthrie” event will feature a Guthrie family celebration. A “genuine family birthday party” will take place right at the Old Trinity Church, home to the Guthrie Center, where Laye says Guthrie’s “children, grandkids, and great-grandkids are still fighting his fight through lyric and chord. Those were Woody’s weapons, and his family and close friends of the center are still slinging good music around this place.”
Local singers and songwriters will provide a Woody Guthrie sound for the folks who come to commune together over homemade chili, cornbread, and birthday cake. “There will be raffles, music, great food and fun for all ages who attend,” said Laye. “And it is pretty affordable: it’s free! Please come out and visit Arlo’s church and have a good time with us.”
Following the birthday party that evening, Tom Chapin will take the stage at 8 p.m. as part of the regular Troubadour Concert schedule. Chapin, known for his storytelling and social justice songs, is, as Laye indicates, an appropriate choice for the evening of Woody’s 100th birthday.
“Tom Chapin tells stories in his songs in the Woody Guthrie way,” pointed out Laye. Chapin is also well-known for his children’s songs (one of his latest albums is Give Peas a Chance). The brother of the late Harry Chapin, Tom Chapin’s discography addresses equality and justice, a la Woody Guthrie. “Tom Chapin is performing for us on the special birthday night for specific reasons,” added Laye. “He drinks from the same fountain as the Guthries do. We think Woody would approve.”
The Troubadour Series, according to Laye, features performers who would not play small intimate venues like the Guthrie Center except for the symbolism surrounding “the Woody Guthrie movement.”
“Our members get special pricing on these concerts, and some of their favorite performers play the great songs they are known for 10 or 20 feet away while our guests sit at their tables comfortably enjoying treats from our kitchen,” said Laye. “It may not get any better than this.”
The Troubadour Series opens on Friday, May 25, when Johnny Irion and Friends (including Aaron Woody Wood) take the stage at 8 p.m. (for all but Sunday shows, doors open at 6 p.m. and music starts up at 8). Ticket price for members of the Guthrie Center for Johnny Irion’s opening concert is $20; $25 for non-members (visit Guthrie Center for information on how to become a member).
The 2012 Troubadour Series at The Guthrie Center:
Friday, May 25: Johnny Irion and Friends (20/25)
Sat, May 26: Kate Taylor (23/25)
Friday, June 1: TaoNation: The Nation of the Way (10/12)
Saturday, June 2: Rick Tiven (10/12)
Friday, June 8: The Nields (Nerissa and Katryna) (15/18)
Saturday, June 9: WOODY GUTHRIE TRIBUTE with local musicians (10/15)
Friday, June 15: Meg Hutchinson (12/15)
Saturday, June 16: Dan Bern (22/25)
Friday, June 22: John Flynn (17/20)
Saturday, June 23: Work O’ the Weavers (20/25)
Sunday, June 24: Holy Ground: The Yiddish Connection with Nora Guthrie from 3 – 5 p.m. (25)
Friday, June 29: Kim & Reggie Harris (15/20)
Saturday, June 30: Caravan of Thieves (15/20)
Friday, July 6 and Sat, July 7: Christine Lavin and Don White (25/30)
Friday, July 13: Carrie Newcomer (20/25)
Saturday, July 14: Guthrie Birthday Party 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (FREE)
Saturday, July 14: Tom Chapin (20/25 )
Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21: Maria Muldaur (45/50}
Friday, July 27: Tom Rush (45/50)
Saturday, July 28: Harpeth Rising (12/15)
Friday, Aug. 3: Tim Grimm (18/20)
Saturday, Aug. 4: Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams (22/25)
Friday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, August 11: Tom Paxton (50/60)
Friday, Aug. 17: Vance Gilbert (15/20)
Saturday, Aug. 18: John Gorka (20/25)
Sunday, Aug. 19: Sally-Jane Heit at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 (25—proceeds to Guthrie Center)
Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25: Celebrating John Lennon with Nu-Utopians (30/35)
Friday, Aug. 31: Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Espirit Creole (15/18)
Saturday, Sept. 1: Lucy Kaplansky (25/30)
Sunday, Sept. 2: The Berkshire Ramblers: 7 p.m., open at 5 (25—proceeds to Guthrie Center)
The Troubadour Series takes its name from the legendary West Hollywood club founded by long-time Guthrie family friend, the late Doug Weston. In its heyday, the Troubadour helped launch the careers of such musical luminaries as Hoyt Axton, Phil Ochs and the Association. The concert series at the Old Trinity Church has been underway since the spring of 2000 to support the Guthrie Center’s commitment to local and global musical traditions. Many friends of the Center who would not otherwise appear in such a small, intimate venue have graciously headlined Troubadour Series concerts. Younger talents also perform regularly.
The Guthrie Center is housed in the Old Trinity Church, where Arlo Guthrie’s famous song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” was set and the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” was filmed. Alice’s actual restaurant is long gone, but Old Trinity Church where Alice Brock and her husband Roy once lived, and where the “Alice’s Restaurant” saga opens, has been home to the Guthrie Center and the Guthrie Foundation since Arlo purchased it in 1991.
The Center, and interfaith church, and the Foundation both are dedicated to the belief that an infinite number of ways exist to approach the “one truth.” The Center’s programs have ranged from meditation and prayer to transporting people in need, and from alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture to support for friends and families coping with HIV/AIDS and Huntington’s Disease. The Foundation supports efforts to preserve traditional music, storytelling, medicine, dance and spiritual practices from encroaching globalization. Additional information is available at Guthrie Center.