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'Roll Columbia' Album-Release Concert to Take Place on Woody Guthrie's 105th Birthday

‘Roll Columbia’ Album-Release Concert to Take Place on Woody Guthrie’s 105th Birthday

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and The Rhapsody Project present the official release concert for 'Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie's 26 Northwest Songs.' The concert will take place at Portland's Alberta Rose Theatre on Friday, July 14, which would have been Woody's 105th birthday. Tickets + event info available here:

The concert, which will feature many of the artists who appeared on 'Roll Columbia,' will highlight the songs Guthrie wrote in Portland during the spring of 1941, when he was hired by the Bonneville Power Adminsitration (BPA). The 26 songs he penned over 30 days included some of his best-known work: "Pastures of Plenty," "Hard Travelin'," and "Roll On, Columbia, Roll On," which later became the state folk song of Washington.

Artists performing at the album-release concert include Northwest roots music duo Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, the founders of The Rhapsody Project. Just as they did for 'Roll Columbia,' Seamons and folklorist and former BPA employee Bill Murlin enlisted a cross-generational mix of musicians with ties to the Pacific Northwest, among them Annalisa Tornfelt & the Tornfelt Sisters, Orville Johnson, Jon Neufeld of Portland-based folk group Black Prairie, Timberbound and Carl Allen.

Check out the official event on Facebook, here:

The BPA, a New Deal-era public works agency created in 1937, commissioned Guthrie to write the series of songs to help promote the benefits of dams being constructed along the Columbia River. Renowned ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax had recommended Guthrie for the project, and Guthrie moved from California to Portland, being paid little more than $10 a song for his month's work.


The two-disc 'Roll Columbia' is the first set ever to include all 26 songs Guthrie wrote during his prolific month spent working for the BPA, including nine that had never been previously release. American Songwriter calls 'Roll Columbia' "a beautifully realized and important tribute to Guthrie and his work during this brief but influential creative stretch."

Smithsonian Folkways' connection to Guthrie dates to the early 1940s, when Folkways founder Moses Asch started releasing his work. Guthrie became one of Folkways' foundational figures, and the label remains home to many of his most famous recordings.

The Alberta Rose Theatre, by the way, was a movie house during the time Guthrie lived in Portland. Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $18 in advance, $22 at the door. Minors may attend when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

About the Rhapsody Project:

The Rhapsody Project is a workshop with a goal of strengthening communities through song and spreading the gospel of folk and blues music. Rhapsody is the integration of performance and teaching through public events and school workshops designed to facilitate cross-generational, cross-cultural interactions through the medium of music. Rhapsody seeks to help regular folks - especially youth - to understand that America's folk and blues music is not a relic, but a thriving tradition.

About the Bonneville Power Administration:

The Bonneville Power Administration is a nonprofit federal power marketing administration based in the Pacific Northwest. Although BPA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, it is self-funding and covers its costs by selling its products and services. BPA markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest, one nonfederal nuclear plant and several small nonfederal power plants. The dams are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The nonfederal nuclear plant, Columbia Generating Station, is owned and operated by Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency of the state of Washington. BPA provides about 28 percent of the electric power used in the Northwest and its resources -- primarily hydroelectric -- make BPA power nearly carbon free.

About Smithsonian Folkways:

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, production, and dissemination of sound. Part of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, it is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. NOTE: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings retail distribution in the US is through ADA (Alternative Distribution Alliance) at 800.239.3232. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings releases are available through record and book outlets. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as Folkways Records, A.R.C.E., Arhoolie, Banjo Builders, Blue Ridge Institute, Cook, Collector, Dyer-Bennet, Fast Folk, I.L.A.M., The Mickey Hart Collection, Monitor, M.O.R.E., Paredon, and UNESCO, are available via mail order at 888.FOLKWAYS or 800.410.9815. Visit the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings website at or write to 600 Maryland Ave. SW, Suite 2001, Washington, DC, 20024.


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For more information on Smithsonian Folkways, contact Andrea Evenson ( or Mark Satlof ( at Shore Fire Media, 718-522-7171