Celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday
RIDGEWOOD, NJ – Poets, musicians, fans, an award-winning chef, and anybody who's interested or curious, will gather Saturday, September 8 at 1 p.m. at Ridgewood Christian Reformed Church (271 Lincoln Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ, at West End Avenue) to celebrate American folk music legend Woody Guthrie in this 100th anniversary year of his birth.
Besides the scheduled performers, the festival will feature an open mic session welcoming any poets to offer readings on Woody's themes of social, political, and spiritual justice. Drop-in musicians are also invited to perform. Attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food to support the food bank work of the church. A free-will offering will also aid Disaster Response Services of World Renew (formerly CRWRC) in light of drought issues in the Mid-West. The event follows area poets' and musicians' rousing Fats Domino and Elvis Presley celebrations held previously at the same church.
Guthrie, an Oklahoma native, formed his first band, the Corncob Trio, at age 18 while living in Texas. It was the start of decades of travel during which he wrote nearly 3,000 songs. He died of Huntington's disease in New York City in 1967. Guthrie's music influenced his son Arlo, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, the Weavers, and countless other performers.
The Clifton-based Victoria Warne Band will perform the beloved "This Land Is Your Land" and other songs by Guthrie, including "Dusty Old Dust (So Long, It's Been Good to Know Ya)," "Ain't Got No Home," "Vigilante Man," and "Dust Bowl Blues.
Celebrity Chef Jesse Jones of Chef Jesse Concepts from South Orange will visit to share some of his special chili and other toppings for the Woody Guthrie favorite -- Nathan's hot dogs! The All-American food spread is provided at no charge.
The distinguished lineup of poets scheduled to appear includes:
- Laura Boss of Guttenberg, NJ, editor of Lips literary magazine and first-place winner in the Poetry Society of America contest.
- Maria Mazziotti Gillian of Hawthorne, NJ, director of Paterson's Poetry Center and recipient of the American Book Award and Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. Her newest book,The Place I Call Home (NYQ Books) will be for sale and signature.
- Charles H. Johnson of Hillsborough, NJ, winner of the New Jersey Poets Prize and the Paterson Poetry Prize for Literary Excellence.
Other poets appearing include:
- Laine Sutton Johnson of Hillsborough, NJ, published poet and recipient of the New Jersey Governor's Award as outstanding speech and theater teacher.
- James Gwyn of Clifton, first prize winner in the Allen Ginsberg poetry contest and recipient of five Pushcart Prize nominations.
- Francesca Maxime of Brooklyn, NY, TV and radio journalist and published poet whose book of poetry, Rooted, is nearing release from NYQ Books.