If you think these are hard times, consider the world in which John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie lived. Writer and musician chronicled those times in words and music, bequeathing a living legacy so successive generations might learn the elemental lessons of hardship.
Explore those times, hear that music, at the 32nd Annual Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, Calif. May 3 – 6. It’s being held in collaboration with The Woody Guthrie Centennial. In Salinas you’ll:
- See The Woody at 100 Exhibition. Feel the fabric from which Guthrie fashioned the classics This Land Is Your Land, and Pastures of Plenty.
- Hear One Okie Migrant Family’s Story, a multi-generational account of a family that fled the Dust Bowl that was rural Oklahoma for the promised land of California’s San Joaquin Valley.
- Immerse yourself in a time that was—at the same instant—far simpler, and far harsher than the one we inhabit. Lose yourself in that time, and come away understanding.
On the East Coast head to Wilkesboro, NC for the 25th iteration of MerleFest, one of this nation’s premier Bluegrass and country music festivals. Merlefest founder Doc Watson (the festival was named for his son Eddy Merle Watson) will share the stage this year with 2011 Grammy nominees Bela Fleck & The Fleckstones, Vince Gill, Alison Kraus & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Jim Lauderdale, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Chris Thile.
This year’s lineup speaks volumes. More than 90 artists will perform on 14 stages. This music is as traditional as it gets folks. If you’re in search of glitz and ersatz, of pretense and put-on, neither the gatherings in Salinas nor Wilkesboro are for you. If it’s roots you seek, the sureties of America’s past, come on down.
Story by Jerry Chandler