Panels & Programs

Panels listed in order of appearance:

“Woody is Just Woody” ~ Steinbeck with Lew Aytes

Friday, July 15th, 2022 | 11am CST | Okemah History Center

The “Woody is Just Woody” exhibit is created around the novel, The Grapes of Wrath, but more, the relationships between key people in Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck’s creative lives. John Steinbeck was a master painter of words, and a true artist of fiction. His stories give a voice to the dignity of common men and women. For his efforts in writing about social justice issues, including those forced to leave their homes in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas for a new life out west, Steinbeck was awarded the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, and the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 1964. And if that’s not enough for history, he is recognized as the most read author of the 20th Century.

Woody Guthrie is the founder of modern-day folk music in America and, alongside Steinbeck, the key individual in this exhibit. The installation chronologically tracks important professional and personal events in Guthrie’s life, which culminated in 1939 when Guthrie meets Steinbeck. This encounter is the gateway to the crux of this exhibit – Guthrie was so captivated by Steinbeck and Grapes that he began composing songs directly inspired by the novel. This narrative argues that while Steinbeck intended Grapes to be as successful and popular as it was, he did not expect Guthrie to take his material and reproduce it in musical form. Furthermore, Steinbeck in no way intended for Guthrie’s songs, based on his novel, to set a precedent as the standard of folk music and ultimately trigger an American culture revolution.

This exhibit will be on display in the:

WoodyFest and the Okemah County Historical Society and Museum July 1-July 25,
National Steinbeck Center, August 26-December 5,
Walter W. Stiern Library, CSU Bakersfield, December 9-March 18, 2023,
Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, CSU San Jose, March 24-August 31, 2023
Original Ozark Folk Festival, November 2023


Folk Collusion with Tim Easton

Photo by Robby Klein

Friday, July 15th, 2022 | 11am CST | Crystal Theater*

A mainstay of American roots music for more than 20 years, Tim Easton crafts songs that blur the lines between folk, blues, and workingman’s rock & roll.

It’s an honest sound influenced not only by the flat-pickers and folksingers who came before him, but also the arc of Easton’s own experience. Born within a stone’s throw of the Niagara River, he spent his childhood in upstate New York and midwestern Ohio, raised on the sounds of trailblazers like Doc Watson and Woody Guthrie. Following in his heroes’ footsteps, he grew into a modern-day troubadour, busking his way around Europe for the better part of a decade before heading back home to America. Although he eventually settled in East Nashville, his touring schedule continued to take him across much of the world, from barroom gigs in rural Alaska to festival appearances in Russia.


Collecting Woody 2022 with Barry Ollman

Friday, July 15th, 2022 | 1pm CST | Okemah History Center

Barry Ollman is a musician who for the last 35 years has also been a collector of rare letters & manuscripts of famous people. Having a life-long interest in those who speak for the voiceless & disadvantaged initially led him to Woody Guthrie. Since then Ollman has collected a major archive of Woody’s papers, letters & artworks. His archive also includes the works of Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan & many others.

For the WoodyFest 2022, Ollman will offer an illustrated presentation displaying a variety of highlights from his Woody Guthrie archive, including original correspondence, art, books, & related ephemera related to Woody & his circle. Ollman’s stories describing the hunt for these cultural treasures make for a fascinating & revealing presentation, one that brings new insights & understanding to the Woody Guthrie story.


Folk American Roots Hall of Fame: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, Nurturing the Future with Deana McCloud

Friday, July 15, 2022 | 2pm CST | Okemah History Center

Deana McCloud is Owner/Partner of the Museum Collective, a partner in the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame in Boston. From her career as the Founding Executive Director of the Woody Guthrie Center and the former curator of music and programs for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, she brings a broad scope of knowledge about music history to honor the past, celebrate the present, and nurture the future. A former board member of FAI, she serves on the boards of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, Music to Life, Red Dirt Relief Fund, Outsiders House Museum, and AFT Instrument Donations, and was a charter member of the board for the Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture.

For 17 years, she booked and produced concerts for the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. She is now on the advisory boards of the festival, the Woody Guthrie Journal, Center for Poets and Writers, and the editorial board for AMP: American Music Perspective.

Just like the people that make up the nation, the influences of American music came from every corner of the earth. When thrown into the cauldron of migration from north to south and east to west, when sung in the corn rows and wheat fields and floated upon the rivers that nourished us, those disparate musical flavors became American flavors. They assumed a new character that resembled this new homeland. And those sounds and songs and melodies have gone on to travel the world and back again.

The legacy of that music needs to be preserved, and the future of that music needs to be nourished. That is why Boston’s “Boch Center” – a guardian of two iconic theatres, the Wang Theatre, a national historic landmark, and the Shubert Theatre, that anchor the Theatre District in this historic city – is creating “The Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame.”

To be housed in the Wang Theatre, the Hall of Fame will celebrate the history of Folk, Americana and Roots music through displays, memorabilia, artifacts, multi-media, lectures and concerts. As much as any city in the country, Boston has been the musical birthplace for the styles and artists we celebrate, making it a fitting home.

While performing recently at the Wang Theatre, Neil Young said “Boston is the Folk Music capital of North America.”

Central to the vision of this enterprise is the launch of the Boch Center’s “Folk & Americana Music Series,” a series of multi-artist concerts, lectures and songwriter showcases that provides musical and financial support for the endeavor.​

The Music Hall at the Wang Theatre will be home to a series of lectures and smaller-scale performances that expand the educational mission of the Hall of Fame and provide exposure to the next generation of artists who are keeping these musical traditions alive. The lectures will feature interviews with artists, archivists such as David Bieber, music journalists, band managers, record company executives, music photographers such as Ron Pownall, Robert Corwin and others who can share insider experiences and insights into the art and history of folk, Americana and roots music and those who make it. The Music Hall is also an ideal venue for the presentation of promising singer-songwriters and instrumentalists in an intimate, 100 seat setting.


Woody Guthrie Poets

Friday, July 15, 2022 | 5pm CST | Literati Books and Novels, Oklahoma City

Host: Paul Juhasz
Ken Hada, Jody Karr, Kathleen Listman, Shayna Mahan, Tim Bradford, Ky George, John Graves Morris, Richard Dixon, Viki Craig, Daryl Halencak, JC “Catfish” Mahan, Robin Carstensen

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 | 10am CST | Okemah History Center, Okemah

Host: Paul Juhasz
Musical Accompaniment by David Amram
Alan Gann, Markham Johnson, Jack Hays, Linda Neal Reising, Quinn Carver Johnson, Bill McCloud, Travis Lovin, Tom Murphy, Rodney Wilhite, Chrislyn Rose Lawrence, Regina McLemore, Catherine Katey Johnson, Tina Baker, Maryann Hurtt, Sharon Edge Martin

Sunday, July 17th, 2022 | 2pm CST | Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa

Host: Paul Juhasz
Rilla Askew Ron Wallace, Don Stinson, Annmarie Lockhart, Yvonne Carpenter, Shaun Perkins, Julie Chappell, Justin Hamm, Paul Austin, Cullen Whisenhunt, Cassie Premo Steele, Deva Hardeep Singh, Robin Wheeler, Molly Sizer, Hank Jones


Pie in the Sky: The Songs of Joe Hill with Bucky Halker

Saturday, July 15th, 2022 | 11:00am CST | Crystal Theater*

Bucky Halker is a veteran Chicago songwriter, performer, and scholar with fifteen albums to his credit, including Anywhere But Utah: Songs of Joe Hill (2015), a tribute to martyred labor songwriter Joe Hill (1879-1915), and Wisconsin 2-13-63, a two-CD project of original songs. Halker’s original music tribute to folksong legend Woody Guthrie,The Ghost of Woody Guthrie (2012), fused elements of folk, blues, honky-tonk country, rock, and jazz; and on Welcome to Labor Land (2007), he offered eclectic renditions of historic labor protest songs from Illinois.

Bucky, a Ph.D. in U.S. History, has also lectured and published extensively on working-class protest music in America and has regularly toured Europe since 1990. He is the author of For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895 (University of Illinois Press) and the producer-scholar for the five volume Folksongs of Illinois CD series.

He received the prestigious Archie Green Fellowship from the Library of Congress – American Folklife Center in 2012 and was elected into the Union Hall of Honor by Illinois Labor History Society in 2010. He also served as guest professor of American Studies at Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany in 2016.

Rick Kogan recently referred to Bucky as a “missionary, spreading the words and redefining folk music in new and vital and exciting ways.” (Chicago Tribune)

This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.


3000 Reasons Why Woody Guthrie is the Great American Songwriter with Ellis Paul, Butch Hancock, & Monica Taylor

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 | 1pm CST | Okemah History Center

What is it about Woody’s songs that have brought this love from the masses and a deity-like worship from songwriters? His musicianship is simple— three chords and the truth— his voice unadorned, his language conversational. His melodies and chords were often “borrowed” from other songs. So what is it that brings the hero worship appeal? Why have songwriters driven thousands of miles to be here in Okemah celebrating him?

Three songwriters speak of their love for Woody and his work and why over the years it has brought them to Okemah to this celebration.

Join Ellis Paul, Monica Taylor, and Butch Hancock as they speak and sing about their love for Okemah’s national treasure.


The Unbroken Circle: Songs of the UMWA & Alliances within Today’s Labor Movement with Tom Breiding & Dr. Ericka Wills

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 | 3pm CST | Okemah History Center

Tom Breiding is a current “musician in residence” for the United Mine Workers Union, Immersion Coordinator at Wheeling University’s Appalachian Institute, former teaching artist at Gateway to the Arts, Pennsylvania Humanities Commonwealth Speaker, and former staff writer at Collins Music, Corp., Music Row, Nashville.

Dr. Ericka Wills is a labor educator and activist who has worked on cross-border solidarity, strikes, rallies, education programs, and strategic actions with the USW, UMWA, AFA-CWA, NEA, Mexico’s Los Mineros, and the AFL-CIO, among other unions and worker centers. Dr. Wills is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School for Workers.

A multivoice, trans-historical exploration of original union songs inspired by Woody Guthrie’s labor music. As Tom Breiding performs his music, he and labor educator Dr. Ericka Wills will contextualize the songs within the union history from which they emerge and their continued relevance to recent labor struggles, including: UMWA miners’ Warrior Met strike; AFA-CWA flight attendants’ pandemic health and safety fights; NEA/AFT teachers’ building power; USW/UNAC health care workers’ Kaiser Permanente contact negotiations; and other 2021-2022 events. Breiding draws much of the inspiration for his music from the historic organizing and labor struggles of the United Mine Workers of America, established in 1890. Breiding has worked with the UMWA providing music for the Fairness at Patriot, Keep the Promise, and Warrior Met campaigns as well as the Ludlow and Farmington commemorations. Wills has experience working with UMWA, AFA-CWA, USW, NEA, AFT, and other labor unions.

Over 130 years after the UMWA was founded, it continues to form innovative, progressive, and mutually beneficial alliances with diverse labor organizations, from teachers in West Virginia to flight attendants that circle the globe. Each of these unions recognize that whether they work thousands of feet underground or thousands of feet in the air; wearing masks to protect from coal dust or masks to protect from COVID; or mining the coal that powers our lights or lighting the future by educating our children, all oftheir labor is intrinsically connected by its dignity, necessity, and value. Much like the labor struggles immortalized in Woody’s music, from coast to coast during the current pandemic, we have seen explosions of workers’ rights conflicts uniting unions and workers across job sectors, regions, ethnicities, genders, and other superficial divisions. A deep dive into Breiding’s labor songs, the history of the UMWA they teach, and the continued relevance that reverberates in this music as we face new amplified issues of health, safety, exploitation, and respect at work provides an educational and entertaining opportunity to build solidarity through music.

This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.

This program is also brought to you by the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute & United Mine Workers of America.


Something to Say: Making Music that Matters with Barry Ollman, Eliza Gilkyson, David Amram, & Dr. Sunu Kodumthara

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 | 5pm CST | Okemah History Center

Watch our 2022 Something to Say: Making Music that Matters panel! This panels features Barry Ollman with Eliza Gilkyson, David Amram, & Dr. Sunu Kodumthara, presented by Oklahoma Humanities.

Woody Guthrie’s music inspired many to create songs that made political statements about the world around them. This panel explores this aspect of Woody’s music through the voice of some of today’s most notable contemporary folk artists who use their craft to make statements, educate audiences and draw attention to social and cultural issues.

This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) & the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.