These historical concerts honoring one of America's greatest musical treasures are worthy of the Bear Family treatment, and the label did not disappoint when assembling this fantastic box.
We see from a 1940 draft that "This Land Is Your Land" started out titled "God Blessed America." Penned merely as an adver-tising jingle for hydroelectric power, "Roll On Columbia" has become a timeless anthem for the Pacific Northwest. And when, in "Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done (The Great Historical Bum)," Woody — himself a great historical bum — glided in just two lines from the Garden Of Eden to modern-day apple pickers unionizing, we witness how he wrote not only for his own time but for all time. — Bruce Sylvester
Will Geer introduces Woody by his full name, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, and points to the instruments he played… ‘guitar, mouth harp, mountain fiddle, mandolin’. Robert Ryan shows the man’s commitment as he describes the guitar in Woody’s hands and its message of ‘this machine kills fascists’. The narrations are part of a recent triple-disc release from Bear Family Records, Woody Guthrie, The Tribute Concerts. Will Geer and Robert Ryan are on stage at the Carnegie Hall performance (January 20, 1968), with Will Geer and Peter Fonda at the microphone for the Hollywood Bowl tribute (September 12, 1970). After a fifteen-year battle with Huntington’s Disease, Woody Guthrie passed away on October 3, 1967. The outpouring of songs come from artists inspired by Woody Guthrie, the events a celebration as they remember the man. Musical backing for the shows was provided by The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson) at Carnegie Hall, and a cast of players at the Hollywood Bowl that included Ry Cooder along with then-current and future members of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Etheridge, Gib Gilbeau, and John Beland among other west coast Folk and Roots music luminaries.