The Kingston Trio, the American folk and pop music group that launched the folk revival of the late ‘50s, will present “A Tribute to Woody Guthrie” at the historic Will Rogers High School Auditorium, 3909 E. 5th Place, on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m., benefiting the students.
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, born in Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1912, was an American singer-songwriter and musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. Many of his songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl period of the Great Depression when he traveled with displaced farmers who migrated from Oklahoma to California on U.S. Route 66, known as ‘The Mother Road,’ and learned their traditional folk and blues songs, earning him the nickname the ‘Dust Bowl Troubadour.’
Guthrie’s best-known song, “This Land Is Your Land,” was released by the Kingston Trio on its Goin’ Places album in 1961, remaining on the Billboard Top 40 album chart for 41 weeks. Arguably, The Kingston Trio was the most influential in Woody Guthrie’s popularity resurgence, once having four albums in the Billboard Top 10 at the same time. This influence is currently being recognized by the exhibit, “Hard Travelin’: Woody Guthrie, The Kingston Trio and the Folk Revival,” at the Woody Guthrie Center, located at 102 East Brady St. Guthrie died in 1967, a household name, thanks largely to the Kingston Trio. The exhibit will be on display through March 13 and will then travel to the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.
The current trio, comprised of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty, with Paul Gabrielson on acoustic bass, is as accomplished as any prior composition of the group. Zorn first joined the trio almost 43 years ago, although he left for a while and then rejoined them. Grove came into the group and is its longest-tenured member, working in his 40th year, and Dougherty is in his 11th year. Bob Shane, the only surviving original member, still wields a guiding hand to ensure the trio stays true to its traditions, and even performs with them on occasions.
The trio will perform several Guthrie songs they made famous, including “This Land Is Your Land,” “Pastures of Plenty,” and “Deportee.” They will also treat the audience to other signature songs such as the 1958 hit that established their career, “Tom Dooley,” plus “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “M.T.A.,” and “Scotch and Soda.”
Will Rogers High School was completed in 1939 during the Great Depression as a Public Works Administration (PWA) project. This Art Deco masterpiece is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its balconied auditorium resembles a luxury theater, seating 1,400. The balconied auditorium resembles a luxury theater, seating 1,400. The elaborate stage is curved and fluted with brass onsets of a fan and a floral design in terracotta red, brass, gold leaf and tan. Brass lights and false balconies add to the theatrical atmosphere. The plaster ceiling is ornate, decorated with painted, cast plaster beams. Dominating the west wall of the auditorium is a mural. The John Greenleaf Whittier verse about westward expansion is illustrated with figures of pioneers and Indians.
The Kingston Trio’s appearance at the school is believed to be one of the first—if not the first—musical concerts at that venue by a group of this stature that is open to the public. All proceeds from the concert will go to the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity.
All seats are reserved, with prices ranging from $30 to $45 plus a service charge. Tickets are on sale online at www.protixonline.com, by phone at (866) 9PROTIX, or through ProTix ticket outlets in Tulsa and surrounding areas at all Reasor’s Grocery Stores and Starship Records & Tapes, 1241 S. Lewis Ave.