News & Reviews
Joel Rafael - Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937-1941 - South Pasadena Public Library, May 19th
Night with Live Music on May 19
An Author Night with historians Darryl Holter and Bill Deverell discussing their new book, "Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941" will be presented in the Library Community Room on Thursday, May 19that 7:00 p.m. The event will also feature live renditions of Guthrie songs by folksinger Joel Rafael to open the show followed by the Woody Guthrie history presentation by Bill Deverell and Darryl Holter. To conclude, Darryl Holter, also a singer-songwriter, will offer a few more Woody Guthrie tunes.
"Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941" is the first book to thoroughly explore the legendary folksinger's time in Los Angeles. It declares that Guthrie's somewhat brief residence in L.A. during the later years of the Great Depression formed the basis of his strong, lasting influence on the world's music.
"What happens when we push beyond Woody's iconic image to try to understand how an unemployed hillbilly singer in the late 1930s transformed himself into something else?" writes co-editor Darryl Holter in the book's first essay. "We learn that transformation started in, and started because of, Los Angeles, a place key to Woody's evolution."
Lyrics Guthrie wrote about Los Angeles, many of which he never set to music, are published here for the first time. The book's twelve essays, richly illustrated with photos from the era, investigate such themes as Guthrie's early radio success in Los Angeles, his first recordings made on old Presto disks, and the important friendship he forged with actor and radical Will Geer (Later of "Grandpa Walton" fame). Other pieces cover Guthrie's racial egalitarianism, as he threw off some of the worst characteristics of his Southwest roots, his ability to mold evangelical perspectives into politically savvy folk songs, and the impact his songs still exert about migrants and workers looking for opportunities in California.
"Because Woody Guthrie came to Los Angeles when he did, his music stridently addresses inequities and inequalities amplified by the Depression in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles the ever-observant Dust bowl troubadour became the urban folksinger," says co-editor William Deverell. His time in L.A. created the Woody that—eighty years later—bears witness to America's promise and its problems.
Darryl Holter has written books and articles on labor history and urban revitalization. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin and taught for several years in the History Department at UCLA. Holter is an adjunct Professor in History at USC and his album. "Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles, 1937-1941", was released to critical acclaim in 2015.
Wiiliam Deverell has written many highly-regarded books about California history and culture. Deverell has authored books on political, social, ethnic, and environmental history, including "Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past. In "Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941", he brings together his overlapping passions for the history of American folk music, the Great Depression, and Los Angeles. Bill is also a professor of history and the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West at USC.
Singer-songwriter and folk musician Joel Rafael has been performing for more than 50 years and has recorded nine albums. He has opened shows and shared stages with the likes of Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, John Lee Hooker, Laura Nyro, and many more.
The free event is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and Angel City Press. Special thanks to Brad Colerick/DeepMix Entertainment. The Library Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary, but seating is limited. Refreshments will be provided and autographed books and CDs will be available for purchase.
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