(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – Singer-songwriters Johnny Irion and Kate Taylor will inaugurate the 2012 Troubadour Series of folk music concerts at the Guthrie Center this weekend with performances on Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, 2012, respectively. Doors open both evenings at 6 p.m. and performances begin at 8 p.m.
Irion has played and collaborated with some of the best in his decades-long music career: first and foremost, with his wife, Sarah Lee Guthrie, with whom he typically performs as a duo partner. But for this weekend’s concert, Irion will be joined instead by include Aaron “Woody” Wood, Charlie Rose, and Otto Hauser.
Kate Taylor announced to her fans this month that she had written a special song for the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Woody Guthrie. Taylor has been pleasing fans and other musicians for decades with her distinctive bluesy folk approach to her own compositions, as well as establishing an impressive history of musical collaboration that includes tunes recorded with her brothers Alex, Hugh, Livingston, and James Taylor. Taylor’s July 2009 album of all original songs, Fair Time, has been well-received and confirms her status as one of America’s most talented songwriters. Taylor also re-released Sister Kate in 2010, and has maintained a solid and loyal fan base.
Both Johnny Irion and Aaron Wood are from the Carolinas. Bluegrass, country, folk-rock – all fingerpickin’ good stuff in the Carolinas. And Irion shows he has currency in all those genres. One Irion song reverberates with Neil Young or Gram Parsons, the next might sound like it belongs on a Sonic Youth album – and then he rolls into something that you’re pretty sure Bill Monroe did at one time or another. Irion is multi-talented, and his onstage repertoire is designed in a way which fully supports those abilities.
Aaron “Woody” Wood is an Asheville, N.C.-based guitarist and a singer-songwriter who has shared the stage with the likes of Jimmy Martin, Leon Russell, Sara Evans and Carlos Santana.
“I met Woody in Asheville when he was playing with a nice group called the Blue Rags,” Irion said. “What really stands out about him is his guitar playing and singing. I am looking forward to having him here with us at The Guthrie Center. I think it’s going to be a high energy show.”
Woody Wood grew up in the bluegrass way, amongst porch-sitting pickers. His father, A.L. Wood, a leader of the Smokey Ridge Boys bluegrass outfit, took his son with him on the circuits that featured the likes of the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, the Seldom Scene — and other major players in the prolific bluegrass music scene in the Carolinas and Tennessee. Wood also was inclined toward the blues, and these days he is as likely to be found playing funk or jazz in New Orleans as he is picking a 6-string around the Blue Ridge.
Other musicians appearing on opening night with Johnny Irion and Woody Wood include Charlie Rose playing bass and Otto Hauser on drums. Rose, a Boston musician who commands several different instruments (bass, guitar, banjo, pedal steel…), can drop a few names in his history too: his is currently bassist for Jonathan Edwards, and plays one or more instruments for Jocelyn Adams, Johnny and Sarah Lee, Tao Seeger, Aoife O’Donovan, and others on the “troubadour” trek.
Otto Hauser is a prolific drummer who plays for a number of acts, including as fulltime drummer for the band Vetiver. A “pastoral psych-rock” band, Hauser’s group Vetiver provides much of the studio support for Johnny Irion and Sarah Lee Guthrie’s 2011 album release Bright Examples.
A 12-song symphony of well-governed sound, Bright Examples was recorded at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, and has enjoyed detailed and laudatory reviews in a plethora of music industry publications. The harmonies produced by the married couple highlight the production, backed by some of the best studio musicians in the Northeast.
Johnny Irion and Friends will take the stage on opening night at 8 p.m. Doors will open for ticketholders at 6 p.m. Cost of tickets is $20 for Guthrie Center members, $25 for non-members. For information on how to become a Guthrie Center member, visit Guthrie Center.
Since the release of her first album, Kate Taylor has been involved in the folk and acoustic music scene in many ways, both as an individual performer and as a member of the famed Taylor family. Kate Taylor cites her musical roots as being steeped in the “American music genres of rhythm and blues, folk, gospel, country, rockabilly, Appalachian bluegrass, and rock and roll.” Her 2005 live album, Kate Taylor Live at the Cutting Room, demonstrates her versatility and command of many genres and styles, and Fair Time! confirms her status as an original songwriter in her own right.
Kate Taylor has been musical all her life: as a teenager growing up in North Carolina, she and her brothers often sat around the family dining room table and practiced the harmonies of groups such as the Staples Singers and the Dixie Hummingbirds. They listened to and reproduced the tunes of Tom Lehrer, Lord Buckley, Ike and Tina Turner, and Woody Guthrie – thus her own repertoire is multi-faceted and spreads across a variety of genres. She followed her 1971 debut album with the 1978 recording of the self-titled Kate Taylor, which included the charted single she made with James Taylor, “It’s in His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)” and has been involved in things musical ever since. In 2003 she released Beautiful Road, dedicated to her manager and late husband, Charlie Witham, which Rolling Stone magazine complimented as “a heartfelt folk rock gem.” She resumed her touring career at that point and now plays regularly throughout the Northeast, including her 2008 appearance as a featured performer at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I.
Taylor has also produced a DVD documentary, Tunes from the Tipi and other songs from home which traces Kate and her musical family from their Chapel Hill dining room singing to her current work from her home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Taylor will take the stage at the Guthrie Center on Saturday, May 26 beginning at 8 p.m. Ticket prices are $23 for Guthrie Center members and $25 for non-members. For more information, including directions to the Guthrie Center, visit 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.