Woody Fest


Ellis Paul at Woody Fest 2008

Woody Fest


The life and legacy of American music legend Woody Guthrie will be celebrated July 8-12 at the 12th annual Woody Guthrie Festival. Affectionately known as Woody Fest, musicians and fans from around the world make a pilgrimage to the festival each year to honor the man who wrote some of the world’s most important folk songs and was well known for taking his message to the masses. 

Held in Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Okla., about two and a half hours from Fayetteville, most of the festival performances are free. Some events are paid events that help keep the festival free.

One of the paid concerts will feature the “First Lady of Rockabilly,” Wanda Jackson, on Tuesday night at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March, is a two-time Grammy nominee, one of CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music, a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame. Memphis’ princess of twang, Nancy Apple, and Tampa’s Ronny Elliott, will open the show. Tickets are $20-$35 at www.protixonline.com.

The following night (Wednesday), Jonatha Brooke and SONiA will open the festival at the historic Crystal Theater in Okemah. Brooke will perform songs from her 2008 release “The Works,” the newest album of Guthrie’s unpublished lyrics taken from the Guthrie Archives and put to music by a contemporary songwriter, and the first composed and recorded by a woman. Tickets are $20-$35 at www.protixonline.com.  

Among the free concerts are performances by David Amran, Joel Rafael, Stoney LaRue, John Gorka, Jimmy LaFave, Red Dirt Rangers, Ellis Paul, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and many other musicians including several from Northwest Arkansas.

There will be songwriting workshops, open mics and jams and music everywhere in the small Oklahoma town. Children’s activities include music, poetry, lectures and films that examine the many sides of Woody Guthrie. 

Woody Guthrie archivist Tiffany Colannino will share Guthrie’s annotated personal record album collection, the long-lost wire reels that were ultimately transformed into the 2008 Grammy Award winning album, lyrics written on menus and wallpaper, and other unique artifacts.

“Bound for Glory: The Legacy of Woody Guthrie” will be presented by Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter, Anna Canoni, and will include a screening of the documentary film “Legacy,” which features Billy Bragg, Wilco, Ani DiFranco, U2, Bob Dylan and others. Following the screening there will be discussion about Guthrie’s music including his influence on contemporary musicians.

The Woody Guthrie Poets will make their fifth appearance at the festival. Carol Hamilton former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma, and George Wallace former Poet Laureate of Suffolk County New York, will present a group of 19 poets representing six states and two countries. The event will be complemented by the music of David Amram.

Barry Ollman, who has compiled one of the largest collections of Woody Guthrie letters, artwork and personal papers, as well as related papers of Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and others will share information about his 20-year endeavor.

For schedules and information visit www.woodyguthrie.com.



Sorority girl Elle Woods proves she isn’t a dumb blonde in “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” 

coming to the Walton Arts Center for eight shows starting Tuesday.

Legally Blonde

Elle Woods and her dog Bruiser are bringing their upbeat musical “Legally Blonde” to the Walton Arts Center with performances Tuesday through July 12. The play is based on the movie by the same name and is the story of sorority girl Elle Woods who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more “serious,” the endearing Elle puts down the credit cards, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. Becky Gulsvig, the Elle understudy in the original Broadway cast, will portray Elle at the WAC. Tickets are $45-$65.



Heartless Bastards


Jenny Lewis


There’s lots of good music happening this week in NWA and there are a couple of touring acts that should be fine shows. Wakarusa favorite Spoonfed Tribe will join Big Smith’s Mark Bilyeu Wednesday night at George’s and Tuesday night George’s will play host to The Heartless Bastards and Jenny Lewis. Cincinnati’s Heartless Bastards put out a somewhat low-fi blend of indie swamp rock complete with pedal steel, mandolin and banjo. Rolling Stone called lead singer Erika Wennerstrom as “channeling all the swagger and spit of a young Robert Plant.” We think a bit Patti Smith. Jenny Lewis, is gaining a lot of steam and it will be great to see her at an intimate venue like George’s.

Categories: Features