Special to the Parade
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, (better known as Woody) one of America’s most famous folk songwriter and performer was named after the 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, leader of the progressive movement.
Woody’s parents were avid supporters of the president, who advocated women’s suffrage. Wilson viewed himself as a personal representative of the people looking out for the general interests of the country. Woody Guthrie felt much the same. Guthrie’s biggest contribution to American social consciousness is probably best expressed in his poignant song, “This Land Is Your Land.”
This year, 2012, mark’s Guthrie’s 100th birthday – on July 14 to be exact – and Texas takes the lead in offering one of the most unique entertainments to ever appear in the Rio Grande Valley as a show dedicated to Guthrie will headline the Fourth Annual American Music Roots Festival held at the Chicken House Opry in Mission.
The event will be held at 9 a.m. from Feb. 8-9 on 8049 N. Bentsen Palm Drive.
Punjo Reed and his side-kick wife, Lucky Lucy Jackson, have pulled together a presentation honoring Guthrie. The couple pooled their resources a number of years ago and formed the Chicken House Opry. What started as a ‘doodle pad idea’ in Hidalgo eventually evolved into an incredible resurgence of interest in old time ‘rural’ corn pone humor and old-time songs.
The end result was a stage show emanating from Texas, Tennessee, and Missouri.
Dr. Bob Reed, better known as Punjo, has always been a strong advocate of old-time music and comedy. His belief, like Red Skeleton’s, is that one can do comedy without swear words or profanity or topics some wouldn’t want children to hear, and still be comedy. The couple, and their staff, present popular shows going all the way back to vaudeville, plus a good dose of traditional music. Like the memories they invoke, they themselves create memories.
The Reeds said, “We are down home folks who love to entertain people, and no doubt about it, the more applause and the more laughter… the harder we work.”
This was a similar philosophy of Woody Guthrie. He knew how to tell a story or sing a song or promote a cause, and make the audience not only like it, but expound on it.
This is also one of the reasons Dr. Reed invited Smithsonian Institution recording artists Bob and Sheila Everhart to be at the festival. Bob and Sheila Everhart have an interesting connection to Woody Guthrie. For one thing, they both record for the same recording company, Folkways, which is now part of the Smithsonian Institution.