For those of you unaware, the folk hero/musician/activist Woody Guthrie would have been 100 years old this year. There are tons of celebrations and centennial tributes taking place throughout the world, but one local tribute caught my attention at the beginning of this year. It also spawned a tribute project of my own.
A local music writer named Scott Allen first piqued my interest by posting Guthrie’s now famous list of “New Years Rulin’s” on his blog, pointing out that if readers hadn’t made any resolutions of their own they could do far worse than Guthrie’s. Soon after, fellow scribe Robin Wheeler joined forces with Allen to launch BoundForGlory100.com – a blog that encourages folks to read Guthrie’s memoir and post their thoughts on the book. I soon was in touch with Wheeler about adding some photos to the project, and originally I planned to simply recreate some classic portraits of Woody Guthrie featuring several local folk musicians. But after some thought I decided to instead create a photo to illustrate each of the 33 Rulin’s. I figured it would be a nice tribute to a man whose work (and work ethic) I admire as well as a unique challenge to myself.
Fast forward to now. I have completed almost all of the photos and in the process the project has become far larger in scope than I ever imagined. The original goal remains the same, but I have encountered so many amazing people and received such an enthusiastic response that I am now planning to host a photo exhibit and concert in Woody’s honor. On the night before his 100th birthday.
Unfortunately, large format printing of 32 images (I combined 2 of the original 33 rulin’s into one photo) costs an arm and a leg so I implemented a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the exhibition. The response has been incredible, and while the goal is not yet met I am confident that we’ll get there. In fact, I hope we exceed the original goal so that I can do some good in the world, Guthrie-style.
On July 13th, at a great St. Louis venue called Plush, I will be exhibiting all 32 photos for one night only. The exhibit opens at 6pm and is free to the public, and at 8pm we’ll kick off the musical festivities. A bevy of Guthrie-inspired local talent will be performing and the incomparable Mark Bilyeu (of Big Smith fame) will be performing a unique set of Guthrie tunes to close out the evening. As you can see, I’m encouraging everyone to help celebrate Woody’s legacy in a creative and fun way.
Much more on this project will be unveiled over the coming weeks, including a series of blog posts detailing what went into each photo. Trust me, there is a great story behind every single one of them. In the meantime, check out what the Riverfront Times said about the project and if you want be a part of the exhibit, consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign.