Minnesota folkies, Pop Wagner, Charlie Maguire, and bluesman Tony Glover come together for a special celebration on what would have been Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. Drawing from their personal experiences with Guthrie, his friends and family, and Guthrie Foundation archivists, Wagner, Maguire, and Glover create an evening of warm reminiscences and performances befitting the folk icon. Bringing to life the spirit of Woody Guthrie and his musical wanderings “from California to the New York Island” is the aim of the trio.
All three artists owe a lot to Guthrie for shaping the course of their careers, and they met in 2011 to record a Guthrie tribute CD, entitled Woody Reflected.
The album consists of thirteen of Woody’s songs and his own adaptations of traditional folksongs he sang with the likes of Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry and others; and one song by Pop Wagner he calls “The Northern Line” written in the Woody Guthrie tradition of freight trains and traveling.
Most of the album features Guthrie songs not commonly heard, but sung for years by Wagner and Maguire in celebration of Guthrie in their own careers. Tony Glover supplied a trove of obscure material in collections he’s shared with the two since 1980.
The other part of the story is the closeness to the folksinger himself and the seamlessness of direct and indirect experience and mentoring of Glover, Maguire, and Wagner, that gives their performances of the songs an almost familial ring. The connections to them personally and professionally are catalogued in eight pages of reminiscences and notes that accompany the disc. Additionally, extensive and close communication between the trio and Guthrie’s children, grandchildren, and archivist at the Woody Guthrie Foundation in upstate NY, resulted in an album of quality and uncompromising historical accuracy.
Glover actually met Woody Guthrie on a visit that he made with friends at Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, in 1962. Glover plays the French Harp and provides vocals in the tribute band. He is also an author, journalist, and co-Founder of the seminal blues group “Koerner, Ray, and Glover.”
Maguire was tutored and mentored in “Woodyisms” by Guthrie fellow traveler Lee Hays in the 1970’s. (That particular reminiscence between Glover and Maguire culminated in an article entitled Rambling Men, which you can still read on the Guthrie Foundtion web site under “Nora’s News” (www.woodyguthrie.org/norasnews/nn20040701.htm). Maguire is on guitar/vocals/harmonica and is a songwriter. In 1991 he was appointed the official “Centennial Troubadour” for Minnesota State Parks,a title he still holds, and from 1995-2003 he served as “The Singing Ranger” of the National Park Service. Maguire has also been honored with numerous grants and awards, including a Bush Artist Fellowship and the New York Film and Television Festival Gold Award.
Wagner’s close brush with Guthrie occurred in numerous visits and concerts with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, (Woody’s traveling buddy) over the past 40 years. Wagner plays on guitar/fiddle/vocals and is considered a “renaissance cowboy,” as he keeps the folk tradition alive with his great performances woven with storytelling and endearing recordings. He has also worked as an opera singer, movie extra, and lariat artist.
The love of Guthrie lore and song inspired the popular annual concert series with all three that started in 2009 and continues live, and now in recorded form in time for this year’s 100th Anniversary of the songwriter’s birth in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Unless Bob Dylan were to crash the party, you could not find a more apropos trio of Minnesota Musicians… to celebrate Woody Guthrie’s birthday.” -Jon Bream/Minneapolis Star Tribune