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New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road

BK Lick 05 Aug 09 - 01:35 AM
Desert Dancer 05 Aug 09 - 02:16 AM
GUEST,DWR 05 Aug 09 - 04:47 PM
BK Lick 05 Aug 09 - 08:14 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Aug 09 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Strummin Steve 21 Aug 09 - 04:42 PM
dick greenhaus 24 Aug 09 - 06:41 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 Aug 09 - 09:48 PM
open mike 25 Aug 09 - 01:15 AM
GUEST,Doc John 25 Aug 09 - 10:43 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Aug 09 - 04:04 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 25 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 25 Aug 09 - 04:25 PM
dick greenhaus 25 Aug 09 - 07:59 PM
Thomas Stern 25 Aug 09 - 09:39 PM
Thomas Stern 25 Aug 09 - 09:53 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 25 Aug 09 - 09:54 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 26 Aug 09 - 10:54 AM
Thomas Stern 26 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM
Joe Offer 26 Aug 09 - 02:24 PM
Stilly River Sage 14 Sep 09 - 10:20 AM
Stilly River Sage 14 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM
open mike 15 Sep 09 - 01:20 AM
GUEST,Doc John 15 Sep 09 - 02:30 PM
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Subject: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: BK Lick
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 01:35 AM

"My Dusty Road," a four-CD collection of what are widely considered the finest-sounding Guthrie recordings
ever heard, is being released by Rounder Records. The set will be available in stores and online Aug. 25.
Roughly 2,000 metal discs were found [...] About 150 of those are Woody Guthrie recordings, and the rest are by
a host of folk, blues, and jazz artists who recorded for the Stinson label, among them Lead Belly, Art Tatum,
Mary Lou Williams, and Burl Ives. -- Boston Globe 8/2/09 news article

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 02:16 AM

My Dusty Road on the Rounder site.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 04:47 PM

This is pretty important, maybe REALLY important. I hope all are following the links for more information.

Thank you both for calling it to our attention.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: BK Lick
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 08:14 PM

Rounder lists the price as $75.99. Amazon announces it for $71.99 eligible for free shipping with Prime.
They also announce an mp3 download for $19.98 -- there are audio samples of all 54 tracks.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 03:15 PM

I received an advance copy of the CD's today and I'm amazed! The quality is superb! I should caution that there are still limitations as this was recorded in the early 1940's - and recording techniques and equipment were not the same as the digital advances we have today - but if you grew up listening to Stinson or Folkways recordings, you will be blown away by what you hear!

Most of the cuts have been issued before, but not with this clarity. I was amazed to be able to hear some subtle intonation in Woody's voice and in a few songs you could really pick up on the guitar work - subtle notes that were all but lost on previous LP's.   I would caution that this release may appeal more to the hard core afficiandos who will recognize the difference, but it is also a great introduction to Woody for novices who will be able to hear every word - and Woody's interplay with Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry!

Stinson and Folkways were not known for using the finest grade of materials in their products. Stinson was also stuck with shortages of material during WWII. The results are the muddy and noisy recordings that we've heard for decades.

The steel discs used for the new project are as close as we will every get to the original source. Rounder and the Woody Guthrie Foundation have done an incredible job!

I wrote a bit more on my website and included a link to a documentary from Rounder -

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: GUEST,Strummin Steve
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 04:42 PM

One to put on my Christmas List,if I can wait that long! Steve

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 06:41 PM

A lovely set of recordings...BUT...could someone please, please, please do something to suppress those artsy-crapsy package designers? This is just the latest of a series of oversized cutesy packages that are a) a nuisance to ship, b) a nuisance to store and a general pain. Here's a phony copy of a cheap suitcase, measuring 10-1/2 x 7-1/2 x 2-1/2---just to hold 4 CDs (in paper envelopes, a book (a nice one) and some assorted facsimile memorabilia. And all this costs money: CAMSCO carries lots of 4-CD sets that sell for $25, whereas I can't bring this production out for less than $58.
    This is nothing new: we've had phony cigar boxes and phony miniature guitar amps and wooden boxes complete with cotton bolls.
None of 'em fit on a shelf comfortably, and all of them waste a good bit of storage space. Coffee table books are bad enough, but coffee table CDs?

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 09:48 PM

I love the packaging! I can see where it is a pain in the ass for retailers, but these kind of projects are fun!

Frankly, storage is an issue - but we are rapidly approaching the day when digital downloads will replace all CD's. Already there are players that can display lyrics, liner notes, photos and more. I have a 500 gig hard drive that is quickly replacing the several floor to ceiling shelves that hold my CD's.

Let the designers have some fun, and let the packaging help attract new fans who enjoy having a conversation piece.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: open mike
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 01:15 AM

This is a great collection. I recently did a music performance at my local library branches and sang Woody Guthrie songs and told the kids about him. I checked out a book "This land Was Made for You and Me " by Elizabeth Partridge which i jsut happened to be reading today when the mail came in! A great book with stories, songs and pictures/photos as well as illustrations by Woody.

We did a Woody Guthrie set at Toledo Folk Fest a while back
and all this inspires me to want to do a Woody special on my next radio show Sept. 12.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 10:43 AM

Can't really afford it but had to order! I agree Dick: totally unnecessary packaging. What will they do next - a minature dust storm every time you open the box, perhaps.
No, Woody Guthrie didn't record for Stinson: he recorded for Moses Asch of Asch, Disc and Folkways. There was a shortage of shellac during World War II; the amount that was allocated to a record manufacturer depended on their record output the previous year. Herbert Harris of Stinson had imported and produced records from the Soviet Union and hence had a good allocation in this respect; he also had a good distribution network. Asch did not but he did have a studio and the artists. Hence a partnership between Asch and Harris was formed. The partnership ended after the War and Asch went bankrupt. Many of Asch's recordings were at the platemakers and some of these were bought by Harris. Harris claimed that he had the right to issue recordings that were made during the partnership whereas Asch did not agree. Where Stinson did not have the masters Harris copied the Asch issues: this is said to explain relative poor quality of some of the Stinson recordings. This whole affair is a legal and discographical minefield!
Some of the titles listed in this Rounder issue seems to fill the gaps in the Asch 'ledger' from which a Guthrie discography has been built up. I presume these plates were those that Harris had bought and were inherited from him.
A wonderful discovery which was thought lost.
Doc John

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:04 PM

Jut to add: the packaging raises the shipping charges by over seven bucks, if I use first-class mail as I generally do. The packaging won't attract anybody; it's almost impossible to get display space in a store, and the only folks that are apt to see it are those who bought it.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:22 PM

I've seen box sets like this in bookstores - the bigger chains usually have displays of box sets of this type. They attract collectors, just like the odd-ball LP's of their day. Retailers went nuts when the Stones put an actual zipper on the cover of Sticky Fingers, but it helped sell the recording. It's a gimmick, its cute, and it is just a small attempt by record labels to inject a little fun into an industry that is dieing.

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Subject: RE: New four-CD Woody Guthrie collection
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 04:25 PM

Not to cut into your business, but places like Barnes & Noble or Amazon will ship an item like this for free. Of course, it is the chains like these that are killing small business.

By the way, there will be a vinyl LP set that will be selling for around $20.

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 07:59 PM

Let me ask you something. What would you be willing to pay for the box and misc. packaging frills, assuming you could buy the CDs without them??

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:39 PM

My copy arrived today, cost about $60 delivered.
listened to a few tracks, good definition in the accompaniment, both instrumental and vocal.
The 4-cd Smithsonian-Folkways Guthrie set lists for $45, and offers
considerably more material (the Rounder set 12-15 tracks per disc, the Folkways 25-27 tracks per disc.)
I do not think Guthrie's voice is significantly better presented - but perhaps having grown up on 78s, I reconstruct the sound, and filter the defects. (I am quite happy to listen to unique material even in wretched sound, such as the Mapleson cylinders).
There are a only 6 unique tracks in this set, the remaining 46 tracks are the songs which have been available for many years.
IIRC there will be a 'regular' edition (i.e. without the ridiculous
suitcase box) coming in a while (Rounder issued their Jelly Roll Morton in an awful 'piano keyboard box', and a couple of years? later
in a normal box).
I would say that unless you are an obsessive Guthrie fan/collector, this is not an essential purchase.
Best wishes, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:53 PM

addendum to my previous comments:
This collection adds very little to our knowledge or appreciation
of Woody Guthrie - UNLIKE the Wire recordings issued a while ago
by the Guthrie Archive - those recordings open an incredible window
on Guthrie as a performer interacting with an audience and with his wife. Those truly are essential to expanding ones knowledge of "Woody".
Best wishes, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 25 Aug 09 - 09:54 PM

No Dick, I don't think I would buy it the frills without the music. I would buy the music without the frills - but I understand their marketing. As Thomas points out, the music is for the Guthrie fan. The frills will attract SOME casual fans as well as the collectors.

I do think Guthrie's voice is significantly better - although you do have to factor in the crappy mics and 1940's recording environment in which they were made.

Nothing is an "essential" purchase, but this is a fun purchase if you have the money to spend.

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Subject: Old Woody Recordings, New Release
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 10:54 AM

Todays Wall Street Journal has an article by Luke Torn about a new Rounder Records box set, "My Dusty Road"...old, I guess mostly Stinson, recordings from the mid-1940s, by Woody.

What makes this set important is that they are made from the original metal masters, and are supposed to have a clarity and fidelity not found on most of the later repressings and re-releases.The article can be found at; the CDs, presumably at your local folk music outlet.


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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 11:47 AM

I hope Smithsonian-Folkways will acquire these masters, upgrade and expand their Guthrie set to include them, and any additional substantially better sounding masters included in the hoard.

It would be useful for the current owners to publish a list of ALL the recordings in the Brooklyn hoard. There are likely interesting material from other performers whom Asch recorded.

It is sad that STINSON chose not to use these. However, the technology available in the sixties might not have been good enough to achieve the results currently heard.

I had a few conversations with Jack Kall (my focus was on obtaining matrix and issue numbers of the source material used for the Stinson LP Collectors series) - he claimed to have no information, and not to have access to any of the original discs or masters. Being located in California, and these in NY would make access difficult, or he may have been unaware of their existence.

I have recollections of stories (heard in the RBF offices - don't remember from whom) about a storage area shared by Moses Asch and Stinson from which either or both would retrieve material wanted for reissue, described as "raids" on the archive.

The editors of the Rounder set have commented on the metals being scratched (in a uniform way) - one wonders if either party did this to prevent use by the other, or if children or vandals got access to the vault and did that damage. That would have been a big problem in the sixties - today declicking can be automated, back then it would have required many hours of manual tape editing.

Regarding the legal issues - comments in the booklet seem to make a case for no clear owner of Stinson. Seems to me there is a very clear family chain of ownership of the Stinson label, with active exploitation of the catalog through the end of the 20th century. Less clear is the ownership of masters - what court documents exist relating to the distribution of assets following the bankruptcy of ASCH Records? There are also issues relating to some of the material issued on 12" LP by Stinson - according to notes to a DOCUMENT RECORDS Josh White CD, Decca masters were used to expand the albums, and in 1952 an injunction was granted to Norman Granz against Stinson for the JATP masters.

A great deal of research needs to be done on these issues.

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Aug 09 - 02:24 PM

Newspaper articles have a way of disapprearing, so I'll post the Wall Street Journal review that John referred to:

    AUGUST 26, 2009, 4:53 A.M. ET
    It's His Land Once Again

    "Those are the leftovers of my husband's business," Irene Harris ­explained to her neighbor Luria Sutera in 1999, describing the heavy cardboard storage barrels, cordoned off by wood and wire, stacked in her Brooklyn tenement storage space. "He was in the record business. When I die, I am going to leave you my collection of records in the basement, and there is some Woody Guthrie down there that no one has ever heard."

    Guthrie, a towering singer and activist whose "Dustbowl Ballads" and ubiquitous "This Land Is Your Land" form the bedrock of modern American songwriting, would have turned 97 this summer. Huntington's disease all but silenced him in the late 1950s, eventually claiming his life in 1967, at age 55.

    The barrels, holding some 2,000 nickel-plated copper discs, had stood unperturbed for decades, abandoned by ­Herbert Harris, owner of the long-defunct Stinson Record Co. In 1944 Harris, with partner Moe Asch, bankrolled the holy grail of American folk ­music—a series of Woody Guthrie sessions resulting in hundreds of recorded masters, a cultural watershed that ­reverberates to this day.

    What Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Sutera—both now ­deceased—couldn't have known that day in 1999 is that, provided some gentle restoration, the dimly remembered stacks of metal would sound transcendent, instantly rendering obsolete decades of shoddily reproduced recordings released under Guthrie's name. Freed from nth-generation work tapes and speed-impaired reproductions, Guthrie's music shines anew.

    After a circuitous, five-year ordeal of legal sleuthing and aural renovation, Rounder ­Records just released a four-disc, 54-track boxed set—"My Dusty Road"—culled from Guthrie's basement trove.

    "[On] a lot of the old tapes, he sounded like a chipmunk," says Nora Guthrie, Mr. Guthrie's daughter and director of the Woody Guthrie Archives. "I remember my father's voice very well. He had a very beautiful resonance in his tone. And I'm very happy and touched that the world is going to get to hear the voice that I ­remember."

    "The Asch/Harris recordings captured this unique and ­unprecedented American ­moment," explains Rounder's Bill Nowlin, co-producer of "My Dusty Road." "Clearly, many of Woody's songs—'This Land is Your Land' foremost among them—have proved enduring."

    Absent the assorted muffles, warps and hiss running through scores of old LPs and CDs, Mr. Guthrie's guitar tone—from melodic Carter Family-style cadences to raucous country/blues—rings with renewed clarity, while his voice, reflecting heretofore ­undetected nuance and shading, is startlingly alive. The newfound luster and immediacy yanks Guthrie out of the history books and plops him (and, sometimes, his friends singer/guitarist Cisco Houston and harpist Sonny Terry) down on your couch for an ­old-fashioned hootenanny.

    Though Guthrie's 1944 Asch/Harris recordings have come to represent folk music's big bang, the circumstances of their creation are threadbare. Taped at the producers' tiny New York studio, booked at off-hours, the results came out in dribs and drabs on albums and 78 rpm records. Guthrie, meanwhile, was in between tours of the Merchant Marines during World War II.

    "People have to remember," says Ms. Guthrie, "that the times were so difficult—what with a Depression, a Dust Bowl and a war. People were constantly on the move and ­relocating. So these are all, originally, kind of bootleg ­recordings to some extent."

    In the 1930s, Guthrie had emerged in Depression-ravaged California as the hillbilly poet of homeless Okies, the workingman and the downtrodden. That period culminated in the recording of the "Dustbowl Ballads," a series of 78-rpm albums released by RCA Victor in 1940 (as well as the Library of Congress recordings, musical performances and interviews recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax that were belatedly ­released in 1964). Guthrie's gritty everyman songs—such as "Do-Re-Mi" and "I Ain't Got No Home"—spoke directly to the disenfranchised in ways popular music didn't dare.

    In the 1940s in New York, Guthrie formed the interracial Headline Singers, with Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and collaborated with Pete Seeger and other luminaries in the Almanac Singers. By the time of the Asch/Harris sessions, he was a walking ­encyclopedia of indigenous American music.

    "The idea was to record ­everything you wrote, or sang, or remembered," says Ms. Guthrie. Political broadsides, traditional ballads, guitar rags, country blues, square-dance jigs, musical flashbacks to figures like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family—all were fair game.

    "I was my own recording engineer," Asch, later founder of Folkways Records, reminisced in 1978. "There was one mike, we set it up and they just sang, one song after another. Every one was perfect. And if there was a mistake, that was all right too. You couldn't cut off a mistake like you can with tape—this was ­acetate. We all felt that the spirit was in the record."

    Despite later stereotypes (arising perhaps from fossilized sound quality), many of the masters hardly register as doleful or self-serious. Defiant joy, warm good humor and a goofy playfulness abound, interspersed with kernels of aphoristic wisdom.

    "Going Down the Road (I Ain't Gonna Be Treated This Way)," a signature Guthrie composition used in John Ford's Depression-era epic "The Grapes of Wrath," is especially illustrative. Driven by Terry's honking harp bursts, Guthrie and Houston fall into convivial harmony. The lyric—vowing ­defiance in the face of persecution—is bolstered by riotous whoops and hollers; in short, a piteous predicament begets a celebration.

    "This wasn't an artifice constructed to sell records," ­explains Mr. Nowlin. "You can hear that Woody, Cisco and Sonny are friends simply having fun exploring songs they know, and even making up a few. The old folk songs become grist for something else—a rock 'n' roll way of doing things."

    Still, Guthrie was never one to back away from a withering indictment of society's injustices: A compassionate moralism runs through every note he played. "There's a musical legacy that—simply stated—you can write what's on your mind," Ms. Guthrie observes. "Not too many people did that before Woody. So that has branched out, and that's a whole story and a legacy in and of itself. It's a really, really big tree," she says, citing acolytes like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Bono and a cast of thousands.

    "Now I'm getting email from students in Iran," continues Ms. Guthrie, "saying 'Woody's been a great influence to us, and we're gonna write our own songs, and stand up for what we believe in.' It seeps through, and it takes on new faces and new names and new languages, and just keeps transforming. So in that sense, like [singer/songwriter] Billy Bragg once said, 'Woody's not a link in the chain. Woody's the stake in the ground.'"

    —Mr. Torn writes about rock, pop and roots music.

    Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:20 AM

The DT/Forum search isn't working at all, I couldn't bring up this thread until I used the Google search. Is this typical these days?

Anyway, here is an article from the Dallas Morning News on Sept. 6, 2009:

New CD features long-lost Woody Guthrie recordings

12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nora Guthrie has more than just a vested interest in her father, the late legendary folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie. She wants to preserve his legacy because she's his flesh and blood, but she's also director of the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City.

"I don't have a Ph.D. in Woody, but I know him real well," says Guthrie, 59, by phone from her office. "I knew him as my dad for the first 17 years of my life, and now I don't even think of him as Daddy anymore."

Woody Guthrie was 55 when he died in 1967. His prolific years were from the ages of 18 to 44. "He was writing all this material ... and here I am at my age having an eye-to-eye contact with him on a daily basis."

So you can imagine Guthrie's excitement when she learned of the original metal masters that provided the golden source material for My Dusty Road, a just-released four-CD box set including 54 songs recorded by Woody Guthrie in the mid-1940s. Those 78-rpm masters were presumed long lost until they were found inside cardboard barrels languishing in a Brooklyn basement.

"When the original metal masters were found, the person who found them, the first thing he did was come up to the archives and tell me, 'Look what I found,' " she says. "He played me a couple of tracks because it was all he had transferred, and I said, 'Wow!' I was so moved by what I heard that I was able to say, 'Go out and do something with these,' because they were good enough for everybody to enjoy."

Rounder Records, the respected American roots music label, created a nifty package. Each disc is in an individual sleeve, then housed inside a replica of a vintage suitcase complete with latches. The package also includes a reproduction of Woody Guthrie's business card, a 68-page booklet, a booking note and a postcard sent by Woody from Jacksonville, Fla.

Yet most astounding is the sound quality of the recordings. The clarity of Guthrie's voice makes it sound as if he's singing in your ear. And the instrumentation, although spare and acoustic, isn't lost in the background.

"There are only 200 recorded cuts of Woody Guthrie ever," says Nora Guthrie. "His recording career was very short. In my dad's time, the opportunities for him to record in a closed room, let alone in a recording studio, were really rare. So when things like this come up, they are a real treasure."

So was Woody Guthrie. Thanks in no small part to fellow singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who throughout his career has all but been Guthrie's permanent cheerleader, and many other contemporary artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Rosanne Cash, Woody Guthrie's creative legacy not only endures, it prospers.

"He's an evergreen," says his daughter. "I think he's like a reference point, kind of like the way you think about certain other iconic things about America, the Constitution or soft drinks. ... He was a typical American in his times: raised in a somewhat middle-class family, having lost it all, gone through personal difficulties, whether it's a Dust Bowl, Depression, a war. The timing of his life in the 20th century covered all the things that Americans go through. It's the American story. He lived it and put it down in song. He's an authentic person."

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM

Here's the link to that article:

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: open mike
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 01:20 AM

Yes, I did play 2 hours of Woody Guthrie music on my radio show Saturday. Mostly from the c.d. set, plus a couple of covers of
Woody songs by Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and Art Thieme!

My favorite local d.j. today played a lot of the younger generation..
children and grand children of the musicians we all know and love..

Arlo Guthrie, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnnie Irons (sp?) Arlo's daughter, townes van zant's kid, bob Dylan's kid...and more..

As i recall Willie Nelson's son opened for him on his last tour..

good to see the music is being carried on!

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Subject: RE: New 4-CD Woody Guthrie collection: My Dusty Road
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 02:30 PM

I've just received the collection and very good indeed it is too. It has been said that there are only 5 or 6 titles which have not been released before; this is untrue: I estimate that more than half of this collection was previously unissued. There are several different versions of familiar songs and alternative takes. Not only is the sound quality vastly superior but some of the material which had appeared on the old Stinson LP is slightly more complete, having been cut to fit on the LP. Yes I too would like a list of titles and masters numbers: there must be a wealth of folk music and jazz there. The notes don't indicate whether or not further material is to be issued but let us hope that it is.

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