Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Darryl Holter performs songs from his new studio album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles 1937-1939 featuring Julia Holter.
Darryl Holter at the Maybeck
Sunday, June 14, 2015, 3:00pm
This concert is $10 (suggested donation).
Seating is limited. Get your required online reservation here.
L.A. based singer/songwriter Darryl Holter grew up in Minneapolis. His father, a self-taught guitarist and country-western music fan, bought a small guitar for Darryl when he was six. After learning a bunch of songs that he already knew from singing with his family, he began performing around Minnesota with a show sponsored by a charity organization. As a teenager, he became interested in the folk scene of the 1960s, often hitchhiking across the city to Dinkytown. Eventually he attended the University of Minnesota, where he became involved in the anti-war movement and protest songs. He then got involved in the organizing a union while at grad school in Madison, WI, playing at picket lines and rallies across the state. After moving to L.A., he began to move his music away from politics and toward more reflective songs with themes of love and loss, memory and imagination, humor and noir. Finally he met bandmate and musical director Ben Wendel, nominated for a Grammy with the group Kneebody, and recorded his self-titled debut album in 2008 at Capitol Records in Hollywood, featuring Wilco guitarist Nels Cline. Now with four albums out, Holter returns to his roots in Minneapolis for this show at the Aster Cafe.
A few of the songs are relatively well-known, such as “Do Re Mi” and “Oklahoma Hills” but most are less well-known songs that were popular with his radio listeners like "One by One" and “Los Angeles New Year’s Flood." Included here is "Big City Ways," a recently discovered song that is one of the first ever recorded by Guthrie, in 1939.
"When we think of the Urban Folk Revival, we tend to think of Greenwich Village in the '40s and '50s," says Holter. "But I think the real origins began when Guthrie brought folk music to urban intellectuals and political activists in Los Angeles."
Guthrie’s radio show "Woody and Lefty Lou" featured Maxine Crissman who sang duets with him. To capture the original spirit of those songs Holter worked with Sara Watkins and Ani DiFranco on "California Stars" and "Looking for that New Deal Now." Julia Holter (Darryl's daughter) takes up a beautiful Guthrie poem called "My Flowers Grow Green."
Radio Songs will also include a DVD with footage of a street performance at Woody Guthrie Square in Downtown Los Angeles. Drawing upon his research, Holter explains how the songs reflect the concerns of ordinary people during the years of the Great Depression—unemployment, homelessness, and poverty. But other songs reveal Guthrie’s subtle humor and optimism for the future.
Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Darryl Holter's new studio album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles 1937-1939.
Featuring guest vocals by Ani DiFranco, Julia Holter and Sara Watkins, Radio Songs offers new arrangements of some of Woody Guthrie's oldest songs, written primarily during Guthrie's years in Los Angeles between 1937 and 1939. Holter and co-producer, twice Grammy-nominated Ben Wendel, brought together a talented cadre of musicians for the project including Greg Leisz (pedal/lap steel guitar), Gabe Witcher (fiddle), Dave Kemper (drums), Tim Young (guitar), and Billy Mohler (bass).
With three critically acclaimed albums under his belt, Holter is also a historian and co-author of a forthcoming book on Guthrie’s years in Los Angeles. "I began working with these songs after receiving a research grant from the Woody Guthrie Archives and BMI," says Holter. "During Guthrie's time in Los Angeles he wrote dozens of original songs and performed them live on a daily radio show on KFVD. They tell us a great deal about the issues of the day and also reveal Guthrie’s growth as an artist."