Country Joe McDonald will present a show called "A Tribute to Woody Guthrie" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Rogue Valley Unitarian Univesalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.
McDonald typically opens the tribute with Guthrie's best-known tune, "This Land is Your Land," and sings 13 Guthrie songs, including Dust Bowl ballads, children's songs, country songs and union songs. He says he does not mimic Guthrie's style but seeks to convey the emotion and energy that defined famed ballad singer.
The show is a two-act, 90-minute presentation in which McDonald reads from Guthrie's autobiography, his novel and his Daily Worker newspaper column.
He also reads some of the quirky letters between songwriter Malvina Reynolds and Guthrie. These were written in 1955, when Guthrie was hospitalized with the Huntington's Chorea that would ultimately take his life. Readings sprinkled between songs reveal Guthrie's humor through his experiences selling miracle cure potions, drinking low-quality moonshine, and suffering through car breakdowns.
The tribute evolved out of a performance McDonald gave in 2001 for the National Steinbeck Center as part of its display of the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition "This Land Is Your Land: The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie."
In 1975, Harold Leventhal, who managed the Woody Guthrie archives, asked McDonald to put music to one of the many lyrics that had no recorded music. McDonald performed "Woman At Home" at the Hollywood Bowl in a tribute concert.
McDonald became a national recording artist during his days with Country Joe and the Fish which originated in Berkeley in 1965.
Tickets are $20 at the door, $19 for ages 12 to 17. Children under 12 admitted free with a paying adult.
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McDonald has released more than 30 solo albums since 1969. He remains active on behalf of Vietnam Veterans and the anti-war movement. In 2004 he formed The Country Joe Band with Bruce Barthol, Chicken Hirsh, and David Bennett Cohen.. This was essentially the classic line-up of Country Joe and The Fish except for Melton.