If you’re planning to attend the 35th Takoma Park Folk Festival on Sept. 9, get ready to belt out Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is My Land.”
The folk legend was this year’s clear choice as the tribute artist for the festival.
Not only is the festival celebrating a significant anniversary, but 2012 also marks the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth.
“That coincidence between the historical date for the festival and the big day for Woody Guthrie made it an obvious choice,” said Fred Stollnitz, a member of the festival’s organizing and program committees.
From his songs for children to those on social and economic injustice, Guthrie’s work has touched many song writers, Stollnitz said.
“It’s a very broad influence,” he said.
The festival’s indirect tie to Guthrie, Stollnitz said, is Sam Abbott. He was Guthrie’s friend, a festival founder and mayor of Takoma Park from 1980 to 1985.
“The social activism Woody Guthrie exemplified was also exemplified by Sam Abbott and the festival Sam Abbott founded,” Stollnitz said.
Joe Uehlein, who sings vocals and plays guitar for Joe Uehlein and the U-Liners, was asked to perform for and help organize the Guthrie tribute on the festival’s Abbott Stage this year.
Uehlein said he can relate to many aspects of Guthrie’s music, including his songs about working people, politics and “just about life and about love.”
“He was a storyteller through song, and I like that,” he said.
As Uehlein explored various genres including folk, bluegrass and rock throughout his music career, he said Guthrie’s influence was evident.
“I found Woody wherever I turned,” he said.
Uehlein and two other band members will perform Guthrie tunes at the festival, which Uehlein said has hosted many artists influenced by Guthrie and is “the soundtrack for Takoma Park.”
In addition to those artists honoring Guthrie, a wide variety of bands, from local to international talents, also will take to the stages.
Caron Dale, of Washington, D.C., will perform with Lox & Vodka, a D.C.-area band based on Jewish and Eastern European tradition. Their appearance will include Klezmer music and songs combining traditional music styles such as swing with vocals in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. Festival-goers also will get the chance to learn Israeli dances.
“We want our listeners to be part of the experience,” Dale said.
Dale said she sees the festival as one that looks to embrace a diverse range of cultures and ethnicities.
“The opportunity for our band is to share that which we love,” she said.
Jordan Levine, 17, of Silver Spring, who has attended the festival for years, will make his first appearance in his solo act singing and playing the banjo and mandolin.
“I always imagined myself playing [at the festival],” said Levine, who will play traditional tunes as well as some he wrote.
Levine said he enjoys learning the background of the music he plays, which includes bluegrass and folk, and recognizes the influence of icons such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
The festival, he said, is an opportunity for him to perform, meet other artists and enjoy the festival’s unique offering of music.
“I think that Takoma Park is an exceptional place,” Levine said.
The festival’s seven stages of music will be accompanied by food, community tables, children’s activities and more.