KEXP Celebrates 75 Years of Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs


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This month marks the 75th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs. KEXP will pay tribute to Guthrie’s songwriting achievement on Wednesday, May 25th, with programming throughout the day featuring live performances, exclusive interviews and a Roadhouse special.

woody_portraitStarting at Noon PT, Cheryl Waters will host a live in-studio session with Bill Frisell, Gerald Collier, and John Doe, each performing selections from Guthrie’s Columbia River songbook, which the folk icon wrote as a commissioned songwriter for the Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon in 1941. These performances will be open to the public and streamed live at KEXP.ORG. These performances will be open to the public and streamed live at KEXP.ORG.

This will be followed at 3:00 PM PT with Kevin Cole interviewing Greg Vandy about writing 26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest and Guthrie’s experience in the Pacific Northwest.

KEXP’s Guthrie celebration will culminate on The Roadhouse from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Vandy will present the story of the Columbia River project through songs, exclusive interviews, and audio rarities, including the original, minor-key version of “Pastures of Plenty.”

“These Columbia River songs have a special relevance to us here in the Northwest, because they are about us and the place we live,” said Vandy. “As Woody himself said, “When a song or ballad mentions the name of a river, a town, a spot, a fight, or the sound of somebody’s name that you know and are familiar with, there is a sort of quiet kind of pride that comes up through your blood.”

We will all feel this, I think, not to mention recognizing the fact that these are some of Woody Guthrie’s greatest songs. I’m excited to air this show on the 75th anniversary of Woody’s one-month employment with the BPA in 1941. Roll on…”

In addition to this KEXP commemoration, there are other related events happening in the Northwest over Memorial Day weekend:

Thursday, May 26th: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie live at Benaroya Hall, starting at 7:30 PM

A live chat and multi-artist concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle with headliners John Doe (X), Dave Alvin, Bill Frissell, Shelby Earle, Sera Cahoone, Ian Moore and others. Produced by Chris Porter, Greg will be speaking and then signing books in the lobby.
• Saturday, May 28th: Woody Guthrie Day in Washington
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed May 28th Woody Guthrie Day in recognition of his significant cultural contributions, especially pertaining to his time here composing songs about the Columbia River and the Pacific Northwest.
• Saturday, May 28th: Woody Guthrie Day at Grand Coulee Dam, starting at 1:00 PM
This an indoor/outdoor FREE event for families at the Dam site in Grand Coulee. Music on the lawn in front of the dam, interviews and film screenings inside the visitor center. This is the first time Guthrie has been officially recognized there by the regional government for his artistic contributions. This is a perfect event for a “destination” experience about this great artist’s work.
Monday, May 30th: NW Folklife Festival at Seattle Center, 1:30 PM and 3:00 PM
At 1:30 PM in the SIFF Film Center and at 3:00 PM from the Fisher Green stage, Greg Vandy will read from his book, 26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest.

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