On Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007, my Woodstock Quest took me to Joe's Pub, named for theatrical produce Joseph Papp, in New York City to see Country Joe McDonald performing a tribute to Woody Guthrie. Huh? Country Joe, the man who led the Fish and sang about Marijuana? Country Joe, the man who led half a million people (and millions more in movie theaters) in a cheer spelling out "F-U-C-K"? What could he possibly say about one of the greatest folk singers that this country has ever produced? Wouldn't Arlo Guthrie be a better choice. All these questions and more will be answered on the next episode of "Soap". Well, since "Soap" was canceled a long time ago (did anybody else watch it?), I'll answer it in this blog.
Woody Guthrie passed away on October 3, 1967 in New York City. And that was the reason for the tribute. During the show, which was a mixture of songs, readings, and rememberances - all became clear. In 1969, Joseph Allen McDonald (thank you, Wikipedia) recorded an album entitled "Thinking of Woody Guthrie". It seems that Country Joe's father was a farmer in Oklahoma - yeah, I know Old McDonald really did have a farm (Give me an "E", Give me an "I", Give me an "E", Give me an "I", Give me an "O" - What's that spell?) and was a fan of Woody Guthrie. Therefore, Country Joe grew up on Woody Guthrie's music.
In 2001, the National Steinbeck Center asked Joe to perform as part of a Woody Guthrie Tribute. Since then he has performed this tribute from time to time. Country Joe mentioned both during the show and on his website, that he is recording the performance for a CD.
for more information regarding the show, please see Country Joe's websiteCountry Joe on Woody Guthrie
I did write down the songs; however, I didn't save the file properly (I do everything electronically on my Palm Treo). I can say that he opened with "This Land is Your Land" and played "The Fish Cheer" and "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag" as an encore. It was a pretty good show - and I will buy the CD.
If you are in NYC, Joe's Pub is a great place to see a show. An upscale Pub that seats at most 200 people with great sight lines and fabulous acoustics. It is also conveniently located over a subway track which gives the bass a boost every 10 minutes (as well as vibrating the seats).
Also, I was successful on my autograph quest. Just before the show started, I needed to use the Men's Room. To access it, I had to walk through a waiter/waitress station and walk to an area that was behind the stage. As I was at the show by myself, I took my poster with me. As I emerged from the bathroom, I looked up and in front of me - stood Country Joe McDonald. Surprised, I exclaimed, "Country Joe". To which, he replied, "Yes". I asked if he would sign my poster and he told me "maybe". I whipped it out, if you will, and Country Joe asked where I came from - he was satisfied with my bathroom explanation (I guess security is an issue for 65 year old musicians). He complimented me on my poster and signed it. I thanked him and wished him a good show.
After the show, he was selling CD's in the lobby and I just wanted to thank him again. I ended up in line behind three young guys (late teens - early 20's) carrying plastic shopping bags. They asked if he would sign pickguards/photos. They had bags full (obviously - they worked for an autograph dealer). Country Joe he would sign anything they wanted for $20 bucks a pop. I was glad that I caught him backstage - although, I would have given him the $20 (if I had to).
As of now, next stop is October 20 in Waterbury, CT to see the Experience Hendrix tour starring Woodtock performers (Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell - part of Jim's Gypsy Sun and Rainbows and Tommy Shannon of Stevie Ray Vaughn's Double Trouble - played with Johnny Winter in 1969). Other performers at the tribute concert will be a bunch of hacks - Mick Taylor, Robbie Krieger, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy. It should be fun. I also bought a ticket to see David Crosby and Graham Nash on October 28, 2007 in Kingston, NY. However, something may come up first.
"This Land is Your Land" Woody Guthrie Introduction — Country Joe "Every Time His Songs are Sung" Barry Lee Marris Root beer story from Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie "Talking Dust Bowl" Woody Guthrie "Do Re Mi" Woody Guthrie "Going Down the Road" Woody Guthrie Car story from "Woody Sez" "Let's Go Riding in My Car" Woody Guthrie Cookies speak louder than words — letters by Malvina Reynolds and Woody Guthrie Erotic writing — Woody Guthrie "Woman at Home" Country Joe (music), Woody Guthrie (words)
"Capi/Commie" Joady Guthrie; Sayings by Woody Guthrie; "Old Paint the Horse with a Union Label" — author unknown "Ladies Auxiliary" Woody Guthrie "Union Maid" Woody Guthrie About lynchings — Woody Guthrie "Slip Knot"/"Vigilante Man" Woody Guthrie "Pastures of Plenty" Woody Guthrie "Roll On Columbia" Woody Guthrie "New York City" Country Joe (music), Woody Guthrie (words) "Tom Joad" Woody Guthrie "Oklahoma Hills" Jerry Guthrie and Woody Guthrie Oklahoma where it all began — Worden McDonald "So Long It's Been Good to Know Ya" Woody Guthrie
The Fish Cheer I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag