Oklahoma is home to musicians of all genres, from Carrie Underwood to the All-American Rejects and Hinder. One weekend each year, a town of about 3,000 people, just over an hour east of Oklahoma City, doubles in size to pay homage to a hometown hero, and America’s “Father of Folk Music.”
The 19th annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival features over 70 artists from around the country, but the majority of this weekend’s performers hail from many of the Oklahoma towns that served as the setting for Woody Guthrie’s songs.
“Well the first song that I remember, we would sing it sometime in school, was ‘This Land is Your Land,’ and that song has always been burned in my memory,” said Norman guitarist Gregg Standridge, who’ll be performing at the festival. “As I got older and started having some identification with being an Okie, it became like my national song forever. I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world”
This weekend marks Perkins singer-songwriter Monica Taylor’s 17th time to take the stage at the festival. For her, WoodyFest is all about building relationships and continuing the folk music legacy.
“I love to take my drive to Okemah down the back roads, and when I get there it’s like a family reunion,” Taylor said. “You spend the first few hours hugging necks and catching up.”
For the teen folk group Annie Oakley, led by twins Sophia and Gracie Babb, the weekend is full of soaking up the music of other folk artists.
“I'm looking forward to all of the amazing musicians and songwriters that are going through Oklahoma, and also I'm looking forward to all of the late night jams that will be going on.” Sophia Babb said. “It's kind of like a musician party where everybody is staying up really late and hanging out and jamming with their instruments and sharing songs.”
Graham Nash will kick off the event Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday performances will take place at four venues beginning at 11 a.m.. During the evening hours, the festival consolidates to one venue known as the “Pastures of Plenty,” named after Guthrie’s 1941 song.
To better understand the impact that Woody Guthrie had on Oklahoma and folk music around the county, we spoke with Oklahoma musicians that are taking the stage this weekend. Here are their full-length interviews.
From Norman, Annie Oakley is an all-girl band led by twin sisters Sophia and Grace Babb. In their music, the duo tackles social issues facing young girls. With their folk style and flawless harmonies, Annie Oakley has become a favorite for Woody Guthrie tributes. They play at 11:00 am on Thursday.
Taylor is an Oklahoman through and through. This weekend’s performance will mark her 17th Woody Guthrie Folk Music Festival. Her love for Oklahoma and folk music earned her the nickname the “Cimarron Songbird.” Taylor performs and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.
Standridge is a singer/songwriter from Norman. His Master's Degree in Classical Guitar Performance gives his folk music writing style a rock twist. Standridge currently performs solo and duo shows in the Oklahoma City metro,. This year will serve as Standridge’s second WoodyFest, and his first as a performer. Standridge will perform with Terry Ware Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m.
Click here for the 2016 WoodyFest schedule.
— Woody Guthrie Fest (@WoodyFest) March 10, 2016
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