A variation of this article appeared in the summer Media Notes, newsletter of the Civic Media Center.
Years ago when the Civic Media Center was just getting started, one of the performers came up to me after packing her guitar away and thanked the CMC for including music as part of media. There can be no better example in the 20th century of this than the “hard ramblin’, hard traveling'” Woody Guthrie. In a time when there needed to be a voice of the people, this Oklahoma native traveled and sang out for the common man, against the forces of greed, and at times simply for the joy of being alive.
The North Florida Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration will be Saturday, July 14, starting at 8p.m. on the lawn of the Repurpose Project (519 S. Main St.), just south of the CMC and Citizen’s Co-op.
This gig did some wandering of its own, originally announced for Boca Fiesta, then at the Warehouse Lounge, until finally landing at a place Woody would have loved. These changes are not a negative on the other locations, but in planning and considering various aspects of the day, it took some, well, rethinking.
The CMC has some ties to Woody Guthrie, if indirect, through Stetson Kennedy, Florida’s (no longer) Living Legend, whose personal library was donated to and populates the CMC’s shelves, and whose home outside of Jacksonville was a frequent visiting spot for Woody in his travels.
July 14, 1912 was the birth of Woody Guthrie, a man for whom the times drew forth his talents, and the circumstance of the new medium of radio spread his voice around the country at a time it really needed it.
What we are asking is that the array of local talent take some of Woody’s songs and words and make them their own for the day, short sets from a lot of Gainesville talent, of mostly Woody with some additional Woody-esque selections.
The list at press time includes a variety of Gainesville performers, and we are grateful to all who will donate their artistry.
Thanks to the Library of Congress, and their new fangled recording equipment, as well as his prolific writing archived by others, there’s a lot of Woody out there. Yet, just last week at a volunteer meeting at the CMC, a new volunteer asked, “Who is Woody Guthrie?”
The event will benefit both the CMC and Harvest of Hope, a direct aide migrant farmworker organization. Tickets are reasonable at $5 to $10, sliding scale.
There will be food and drink, raffles, art, and hopefully a whole cross section of the good progressive folks of Gainesville to celebrate the birth of this legendary force for good in the world one hundred years ago.
Want more Woody? Check out this telling memory from Gainesville’s own Arupa Freeman.