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Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK

GUEST,Will Kaufman 18 Aug 10 - 07:01 AM
Fred McCormick 18 Aug 10 - 08:13 AM
Art Thieme 18 Aug 10 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 18 Aug 10 - 04:53 PM
Art Thieme 18 Aug 10 - 09:48 PM
katlaughing 18 Aug 10 - 11:52 PM
Fred McCormick 19 Aug 10 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 19 Aug 10 - 11:39 AM
katlaughing 19 Aug 10 - 12:24 PM
Ron Davies 20 Aug 10 - 06:56 AM
JJ 20 Aug 10 - 08:38 AM
Bobert 20 Aug 10 - 09:20 AM
Ross Campbell 20 Aug 10 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 21 Aug 10 - 03:17 AM
Fred McCormick 21 Aug 10 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 21 Aug 10 - 10:04 AM
Fred McCormick 21 Aug 10 - 01:02 PM
Ron Davies 21 Aug 10 - 04:01 PM
Ron Davies 21 Aug 10 - 04:09 PM
Ron Davies 21 Aug 10 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 21 Aug 10 - 05:42 PM
Fred McCormick 22 Aug 10 - 07:19 AM
Art Thieme 22 Aug 10 - 04:19 PM
Fred McCormick 23 Aug 10 - 05:05 AM
Big Mick 23 Aug 10 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Will Kaufman 23 Aug 10 - 11:29 AM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 10 - 07:56 PM
Ron Davies 28 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM
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Subject: Woody Guthrie: All You Jim Crow Fascists
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 07:01 AM

I'll be presenting my live documentary, "All You Jim Crow Fascists! Woody Guthrie's Freedom Songs" on Sunday, 22 August, at the Green Note, Camden, London, at 8 pm.

"All You Jim Crow Fascists" explores Guthrie's anti-racist songs and activism. Conventionally known for his championing of the poor white Dust Bowl migrants, Guthrie also left an extensive body of songs condemning Jim Crow segregation, race hatred and racial fascism. Most of these songs were never recorded, but they are the legacy of Guthrie's own personal transformation from a casual Oklahoma racist in his youth to a committed civil rights activist working and singing with the likes of Lead Belly, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Paul Robeson in the 1940s and 50s.

"Listen up all you Jim Crow fascists and you race-hate mongers too:
Will Kaufman is a-comin' and he's got his eye on you.
Won't brake for no excuses, won't stand no messin' round -
Your bigot ways can't save you 'cause
Will Kaufman's gonna run you down!"
— Ry Cooder

If you're in London, hope to see you there!


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie: All You Jim Crow Fascists
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 08:13 AM

Bloody hell Will! I'd die to be able to get to it. Any chance of you performing it around Liverpool in the near future? After all, Liverpool is I believe the only city on the planet which boasts a folkclub named after Woody Guthrie


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie: All You Jim Crow Fascists
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 04:17 PM

If it'd mean you'd come to the USA to do your show, I would most assuredly rent our local pool for a week, or a month even, and then fill it brim full of LIVER -- if coming to a Liverpool is what it'd take to draw you here.

It does sound like a great project!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie: All You Jim Crow Fascists
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 04:53 PM

Well Fred, many thanks for your kind words. Actually, I would like to present it at the Woody Guthrie club in Liverpool. I did once contact the organizer but I'm not sure if he ever got my message. But I only live a few hours away from Liverpool, so I can always get there easily enough.

And Art, I don't know where in the USA you live, but I'm coming the NY/NJ/Conn and Washington DC next month for a series of performances. Most of them are my other Woody presentation - "Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travelin" - but I will be presenting "All You Jim Crow Fascists" at the Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan on September 25th. If you check out my MySpace page - www.myspace.com/willkaufman - you can see the details of all my tour dates.

Also, you might be interested to know that my new political biography, "Woody Guthrie, American Radical" will be published next Spring by the University of Illinois Press.

Many thanks to you both for your interest!


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 09:48 PM

And Illinois is right where I am now. Peru, Illinois. But these days I don't travel for health reasons--so the east coast is out for me. But Woody's work has spawned some wonderful theater presentations -- like Tom Taylor's in the 1970s. And the Univ. of Illinois Press has some of the most important titles ever issued in roots music and folk-related topics---. Judy McCullough sure was a wonderful editor---and those there now are from a similar mold I think/hope. Best of luck!

Art


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Aug 10 - 11:52 PM

That sounds wonderful. I echo what Art has said (even making a pool of liver and me a vegetarian!:-), plus any chance of you ever getting to Colorado? I *wish*! This country REALLY needs to remember and hear Woody's, and your, message!

Congratulations on the forthcoming book, too. Much success with it and also your tours.

kat


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 04:46 AM

Will, The next meeting of the Woody Guthrie folk club is a Thursday 26th August. I'll sound folks out then.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 11:39 AM

Many thanks, Fred, for seeing about the Woody Guthrie folk club. I know that that place is on the Guthrie family's radar, because Nora Guthrie's husband, Michael Kleff (a German writer and editor on folk music) contacted me to ask about it!) So if Alun Parry is interested, he can contact me at wkaufman@uclan.ac.uk . Thanks again for your intervention.

And Kat, many thanks for your congrats and wishes for success. I was actually out in Colorado to do some research for the Woody book. There's a fellow out there named Barry Ollman, in Denver, who has a wonderful collection of Woody's letters, manuscripts etc - as well as some of his paintings. You can check him out at www.barryollman.com .

Art, yes - Judy McCullough has left a fine legacy at the Univ. of Illinois Press. The current music editor is Laurie Matheson - a fine editor to work with. I'm really impressed with the care they've all taken with this book.

Bye for now,

Will


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Aug 10 - 12:24 PM

Thanks for the link, Will. Great stuff and FULL of interesting details!


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Ron Davies
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 06:56 AM

"from a casual Oklahoma racist...."

Admittedly I don't have primary sources to go on, but I would certainly like to see evidence that Woody started out as a "casual...racist".

The primary book I've read on him indicates clearly that he in fact did not have the luxury to be casual about racism.   Reason is that his father was one of those who lynched a black woman and her child.

From This Land Was Made For You and Me, by Elizabeth Partridge p 9:

"Late one night in 1910, Charley" (Woody's father)   " was part of a mob that burst into the Okemah jail. A black family from Boley had been accused of letting a deputy bleed to death in the yard, shot by their son, Lawrence. The family was arrested, and the father locked in a cell.   The mother, Laura, her newborn baby, and thirteen-year-old Lawrence were locked in another. The mob overran the jail and dragged Laura, Lawrence and the baby to a bridge spanning the nearby Canadian River."

"Laura and her son were lynched, and the baby left crying beside the bridge where their bodies hung."

"Woody was appalled when his father told him about the Okemah lynching."

He later drew a sketch (reproduced in the book) and wrote a song "Don't Kill My Baby and My Son".

Now it is true the book does not specify when he drew the sketch and wrote the song. And it is possible that he stated much later in life that he was "appalled" by the lynching.

But he had to take a stand on racism very early in life. The book implies strongly that he did so.

If this is not so, it would be good to have some clear evidence to the contrary.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: JJ
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 08:38 AM

Drat, Will. When you're performing in NYC (my home), I'll be in London!


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Bobert
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 09:20 AM

Maybe you could get booked to play at the Tea Party convention??? Them folks need a little Woody style little educatin'...

B~


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Au
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 20 Aug 10 - 11:34 AM

See the show if you can. I went to the debut in Preston some time back, a fascinating presentation.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 03:17 AM

Hi, This is for Ron Davies -

You're absolutely right about the Nelson lynching and its impact upon Woody - and you're right in surmising that it wasn't until later in life - in fact, the early 1940s - that he was able to revisit that event and comment on it in song, writing, and drawing. There is evidence from 1937 - and I've seen it in the Woody Guthrie Archives - that as late as that year, he had yet to start thinking in anti-racist terms. There's a mock poem he wrote that makes vile fun of black people swimming on the beach in Santa Monica; there is his thoughtless readiness to announce and play Uncle Dave Macon's appalling "Run, Nigger, Run" on his radio show, which prompted an angry reply from a black listener (which to his credit, Woody read out on the radio the next day). 1937 was really the year his political re-education began, in terms of race - and this journey of Woody's is the subject of my presentation.

It is also the subject of a chapter I call "Long Road to Peekskill" in my forthcoming book, "Woody Guthrie, American Radical," which will be published next year by the University of Illinois Press.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 04:42 AM

Fascinating stuff. When I first heard of Will's book I thought 'how on earth do you condense Woody's politics into something readable and understandable?'. I think I begin to comprehend.

Significantly, neither of the two already existing major biographies (Joe Klein and Ed Cray)analyse Woody's beliefs to any great degree. That doesn't detract from either of them of course, and for me both books are essential reading. But it will be nice to see someone tackling the Woody legend from a different angle.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 10:04 AM

Hey, thanks Fred. By the way, I'd recommend folks getting their hands on Mark Allan Jackson's "Prophet Singer: The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie". It also has a chapter on Woody's anti-racist awakenings - if I recall, the chapter is called "Skin Trouble."

By the way, Alun Parry's contacted me about the Woody Guthrie Folk Club in Liverpool as well as his Festival of Working Class Music. So hopefully I'll be out your way before long.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 01:02 PM

Hi Will. Excellent. The WGFC convenes on Thursday, so I'll try and have a word with Alun about both events then.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 04:01 PM

Thanks, Will, for that information on Woody's gradual consciousness-raising. That 1910 lynching must have burned its way into Woody's brain. And to have his own father be part of the lynch mob.

Seems like it took quite a while for him to make the connection between that event and everyday racism.

It's fascinating--and depressing--to see how easily people accepted racism in the 20's and 30's.

Possibly apropos of this, I've just run across something interesting--in a biography of Gene Autry, no less--Public Cowboy No. 1, by Holly George-Warren.   I'd heartily recommend the book---all sorts of information and stories about not just Gene's career, but the Depression, and the music business (and the movie business) in the 20's 20's and 40's.

She says (p 59--unfootnoted, unfortunately--- that Gene (and many other "hillbilly artists") made records for the Gennett company, which was based near Indianapolis.


The label also made seminal recordings by King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Blind Lemon Jefferson among other blues and early jazz figures..

And it made custom recordings for the KKK.   Indiana had more KKK members than any other state.

Sounds like Gennett took Coolidge's famous dictum "The business of America is business" to heart.

"As long as your money's green..."




I find history endlessly fascinating. Not even tempted to read fiction--always more corners of history to poke into.





I'm sold on your book. Any chance we'll be able to get it through CAMSCO?


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 04:09 PM

By the way, I just found out the exact quote is:   "The chief business of the American people is business."

And he then immediately said:   "Of course the accumulation of wealth cannot be justified as the chief end of existence."

So he wasn't exactly the unthinking cheerleader for capitalism he is now thought to be.

But still of course very much laissez faire.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 04:12 PM

"20's, 30's and 40's".

And "he" of the last posting is of course Coolidge. Not exactly Woody.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 21 Aug 10 - 05:42 PM

Hi Ron - We're not 100 percent sure that Woody's dad was part of the lynch mob in the 1911 Nelson lynching. Joe Klein declares categorically that he was - but there's no documentary evidence to establish it; just as there's no documentary evidence to establish Charley Guthrie's Klan membership. That he was an ardent supporter, though, there is no doubt of that. And it's pretty disgusting that the people of Okemah were so pleased with the "justice" they meted out to Laura and Lawrence Nelson that they were proudly selling postcards to commemorate it (I reproduce this grim memento in my book). By the way, if you can get someone to give you a very expensive Xmas/Chanukah present, a wonderful book, "Woody Guthrie Artworks" (edited by Nora Guthrie and Steve Brower) contains quite a few drawings that indicate precisely how traumatized Woody was by that lynching - and by racism in general.

I agree with you: it's sadly depressing that the KKK found it so easy to have their label pressed in Indianapolis (was it the "Rebel" label?). It's hard to believe the extent to which the Klan has been viewed as a respectable, business-minded organization in both the North and the South. And they've been trying as hard as they can to fool people once again into thinking that they're respectable - a kinder, gentler Klan!!

I'm afraid I don't know what CAMSCO is (I'm based in the UK). I know it'll be available through Amazon.

Cheers, Will


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 07:19 AM

Ron Davies. Gennett's dealings with the Klan are discussed in Rick Kennedy's book, Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy. I've heard, although this isn't mentioned by Kennedy, that the Starr Piano Company (Gennett's parent company) had a nice little sideline making wooden clubs for strikebreakers to baton striking workers with!

Will. Interesting comment about the Klan trying to remould its image. When British National Party leader Nick Griffin apeared on BBC's Question Time last year, he tried to defend the BNP's links to the Klan by describing that organisation as nowadays "almost totally non-violent". Actually, compared to some of the gun-toting and explosives stockpiling nutters who are in the BNP, there may be a grain of relative truth in that.


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Aug 10 - 04:19 PM

The KKK was very active in the anarchy in Williamson County, Illinois in the 1920s. The violent turf wars were between the Shelton Bros. gang and the Charlie Birger gang fighting for control of illicit booze biz down there. The KKK was a third factor. They, amazingly, advocated LAW AND ORDER, and total application/enforcement of the prohibition laws---besides their better known bigoted stands.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 05:05 AM

Art. This is nothing in defence of them, but I suspect there was rather more to the K than just hoods and lynchmobs.

It's hard to tell, because so little seems to have been written about them, but I'd imagine their organisation to be a bit like the Orange Lodge over here. IE., militantly anti-whatever on the one hand, and a kind of welfare/social club on the other.

Also, I strongly suspect that white southern racism was far more complex than the kind of unremitting send-them-back hatred we encounter from the far right over here. As far as I can see, the Klan regarded Black people as a neccesary and inferior evil, as well as being scapegoats for the fact that they lost the civil war.

Overall, the K don't seem to have been as interested in terrorising Black people for its own sake, as they were in preserving the caste system which grew out of slavery, and of making sure they stayed on their side of the caste division. In other words, Black people could get by as long as they didn't step out of line. But "uppity Niggers" would have been another matter.

I should repeat, this is basically gut feeling on my part and I'd be interested to know if there any expert views out there. Will, have you any thoughts on the matter?


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 11:09 AM

This is the best thread I have seen in quite a long while. And congratulations to Will Kaufman for his scholarship and his insightful analysis. As to the term "casual racist", I don't believe that is something relegated to the 20's and 30's. I saw plenty of it in the 50's and early 60's in the white neighborhoods I grew up in. It perfectly describes something I have been searching to describe for a long time. Otherwise decent folks, who would never treat someone poorly to their face regardless of race, but when they were around all white folks they blame everything on "the niggers". I have to admit that as a child I never got raceism. Although I do remember times when I repeated things that I had heard. But my Grandmother gave me a lesson at an early age that pretty well cemented the views I have now.

One thing that always shines through the various bio's and productions of Woody's works is that same childlike simplification of complex issues. He was so deeply affected by these extraordinary and traumatic events from his childhood, that it seemed to me that his adult self and child self were constantly in conflict with the accepted more's of the times. This, tied with an extraordinary ability to turn a phrase, tell a story, and color it with his view of what it should be, makes us the happy beneficiaries of his work.

Will, I hope to meet you one day, and hear your work. I am inspired reading your words and examining your take on this man.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: GUEST,Will Kaufman
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 11:29 AM

Fred - have a look at a wonderful book by the British journalist Jon Ronson, called "Them: Adventures with Extremists" (http://www.amazon.com/Them-Adventures-Extremists-Jon-Ronson/dp/0743233212/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282577211&sr=1-1). There's a chapter on his extended visit with the current Grand Wizard of the Klan - and there's a huge emphasis on the Klan's determination to refashion themselves as just another respectable organization.

Mick - many thanks for your kind words on my work. I agree with your reading of Woody as a childlike soul imprisoned in a man's body. That has come through loud and clear in all my research (and I believe/hope it comes through in my book).

All the best,
Will


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 07:56 PM

I recall Woody telling Alan Lomax, in the interviews he did for the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song, that he (and I paraphrase) always found them full of jokes.

Woody was a victim of the racism of his time, and of his geography--and certainly of the attitudes of those he lived among. It, as always, was a huge dynamic that he strove to rise above. I do too, but I often fail to live up to my ideals. I'm often just too lazy.

Art


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Subject: RE: Woody Guthrie:All You Jim Crow Fascists, 22 Aug-UK
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM

Will, CAMSCO is run by our own Dick Greenhaus--and sales on it partly benefit Mudcat.

That's why I'm hoping your book will be available through CAMSCO.


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