We got out to ole’ Los Angeles broke,
So dad-gum hungry I thought I'd croak,
An' I bummed up a spud or two,
An' my wife cooked up a tater stew --
"Talking Dust Bowl Blues" by Woody Guthrie (Lyric also performed or published as "ole' California broke" and / or "ole' West Coast broke.")
4th and Main will be dedicated as “Woody Guthrie Square” Thursday, April 12, in a 10 a.m. ceremony honoring the late singer-songwriter. It’s a highlight of the Los Angeles Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration, a week-long homage that began today with screenings and lecture at the GRAMMY Museum. It ends with a tribute concert at Nokia Theater on April 14.
Naming 4th and Main after Guthrie may be a mystery to some. The civic tradition of renaming intersections often has a symbolic connection and at first glance the Historic Core crossroad is more town square for The Old Bank District than an altar for a balladeer seeking Utopian Socialism.
It may be transient culture that links the corner to Guthrie. Long before the downtown neighborhood blossomed into habitual hipness, it was known as a rest stop for those on hard times as far back as the Depression era.
As a skid row artery, Main street had its share of “hoboes” deposited by railcars, dust bowl refugees joined others seeking seasonal work in a California dreamland via Route 66. (Prior to 1939, “the Mother Road” officially ended at 7th and Broadway, which was named Ezat Delijani Square in June 2009.)
Bleak stories from those traveling by highways or rail shaped Woody Guthrie's early songbook with songs like "Talking Dust Bowl Blues" and In April 1935, following the Great Dust Storm of 1934, he began composing music about the hardship of loss and relocation. By 1936, the rambling man landed him in Los Angeles where he began performing his compositions on radio station KFVD.
He rode the popularity of country/western music, using an overemphasized Okie accent for comic bits, during a time when Los Angeles had large audience for "hillbilly culture," according to Ed Cray in “Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie.”
In his activism, songs about hope being left behind on the road was a response to the promise of finding a California dream, just as later in his career “This Land is Your Land” was a counter response to “God Bless America.”
The official explanation for 4th and Main to named after the travelin’ musician will be revealed at the dedication, confirms Andie Cox of The GRAMMY Museum.
Our highways were blockaded
Our bridges all washed down,
Our houses wrecked and scattered
As the flood came a-rumblin' down;
I bow my head in silence
And I thank my God above
That He did not take my home from me
In that fatal New Year's flood.
"Los Angeles New Years Flood" by Woody Guthrie
Los Angeles Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration The Los Angeles installment of a nationwide Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration that is following Guthries travels.
An Evening With Arlo Guthrie: is sold out (Mon April 9 8pm)
Collecting Woody: Presentation and Q & A of original correspondence, artworks, books and related ephemera of Woody Guthrie. Thursday, April 12 I 7:30 pm
Films Screenings (2pm)
Saturday, April 7: "Woody Guthrie: Ain't Got No Home" Directed by Peter Frumkin, (2006)
Sunday, April 8: "A Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly" Directed by Jim Brown (1988)
Monday, April 9: "Woody Guthrie: This Machine Kills Fascists" Directed by Stephen Gammond (2005)
Thursday, April 12: "Roll On, Columbia: Woody Guthrie & the Bonneville Power Administration" Directed by Michael Majdic & Denise Matthews (2000)
Sunday, April 15: "Man in the Sand: The Making of Mermaid Avenue" Directed by Kim Hopkins (1999)
The Grammy Museum I 800 W. Olympic
Woody Guthrie Square" Dedication : District 9 Councilwoman Jan Perry will join City officials, representatives from the Grammy Museum, and the family of Woody Guthrie to honor the life and legacy of the late folk singer by dedicating the Intersection of 4th and Main in downtown Los Angeles as “Woody Guthrie” Square. Thursday April 9 I 10 a.m. I 4th and Main.
This Great And Crowded City: Woody Guthrie's Los Angeles : University of Southern California conference features scholars, musicians, and writers discuss Guthrie's wanderings with a backdrop of Los Angeles as it emerged from the Depression at the dawn of the Second World War. Saturday I April 14 I 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. I University Park Campus Bovard Auditorium (ADM)
This Land Is Your Land ~ The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration Concert : Classic Guthrie songs will be performed by Jackson Browne, David Crosby & Graham Nash, John Doe, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Joe Henry, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Morello, Van Dyke Parks, Joel Rafael, and Rob Wasserman. ($40 to $95): Saturday I April 14 I 7:30 p.m. I Club Nokia at L.A. LIVE