Happy birthday, Woody Guthrie! Celebrate the folk legend's centennial with a week of events
Legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie was born a hundred years ago, and a century later, he's left quite a legacy. David Amram, a legend in his own right who met Guthrie in 1956 and was commissioned by the Guthrie family to write a symphony piece based on "This Land Is Your Land," will be in town for a series of musical events and film screenings that pay tribute to Guthrie. "He was way more than just a folk musician," says Amram. "He was a musician and a person for all our folk."
Here are the Guthrie-related events in Denver over the next week:
Dazzle will be the site of a special show by the David Amram Quartet, which includes Tony Black, Hugh Ragin and Artie Moore. This is a great opportunity to catch Amram in his musical element, performing along with a quartet in the intimate setting of Dazzle.
Woody Guthrie-inspired ukelele lesson at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax (Wednesday, September 19, 6 p.m., free)
Learn to play like Woody himself! Swallow Hill Music instructors will offer a free group lesson, teaching you how to play Guthrie's famous "This Land Is Your Land" before a screening of the documentary about the singer/songwriter. Bring your own guitar or ukelele (or simply your beautiful voice) and play or sing along to the folk staple.
This documentary captures the period in 1941 when Woody Guthrie was employed by the Bonneville Power Administration to write a song a day for a month; Guthrie ended up creating 26 songs during that span. David Amram and musician Josh White Jr. will introduce the film.
Amram's Jam at the 16th Street Mall (Thursday, September 20, 4:30 p.m., free)
Woody Guthrie thought music should be readily available to everyone no matter their class or economic status, and this free jam will give everyone a chance to experience the sounds of David Amram, Josh White Jr. and members of both the Colorado Symphony and the local jazz scene -- all for free at on the 16th Street Mall. The musicians will gather at the mall's intersection with Curtis Street for this amazing jam; in case of rain, the action will move to Backstage Coffee in the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
A Tribute to Woody Guthrie with David Amram:
Public Dress Rehearsal at Boettcher Concert Hall (Friday, September 21, 7:30 p.m., free)
For music-lovers eighteen and under, their adult chaperones and others who serve at- need adult populations and cannot afford the price of a ticket, the Colorado Symphony is offering free admission to the dress rehearsal of its Saturday show. Tickets are available only by special request, which must be received before Tuesday, September 18; e-mail the number you would like to Laura Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The main event happens on September 22 at Boettcher Concert Hall, with David Amram guest-conducting as the Colorado Symphony plays his pieces "Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie" and "Theme and Variations on Red River Valley for flute and strings"; Josh White Jr. will perform songs by Guthrie and Duke Ellington. It will culminate with an audience-wide sing-along of "This Land Is Your Land," paying tribute to the often outspoken, always warmhearted Woody Guthrie.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.