The spirit of Woody Guthrie was alive and well last night at the UBC's Okanagan campus in the University Theatre.
To meet him reincarnated in the form of Thomas Jones, we had to find our way to the campus by the gravel pit, park and walk up that long hill to the student Administration Building and finally ask a student for directions to the Theatre 26 door.
The theatre is intimate, holding between 100-200 seats, I would guess. The seats are comfortable and there is real leg room. The audience was made up of a mix of mature students and very mature seniors.
Woody Guthrie symbolizes the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the '30s, a time frame into which most of us were born and a time I suspect is lost to the present hard-wired generation.
That the audience was not moved to tears, but rather to a light-hearted connection to this music legend is a testament to the stage presence of Jones and the true-to-life characters he presents.
Guthrie's mother spent her life in a state mental institution and apparently his parents set each other on fire in front of their many children.
I remember the Depression as a time when my dad wore overalls and walked downtown to line up for any job available. My mother wore a long house dress and stirred yet another pot of lentils on the stove.
This era was not called the 'Depression' for nothing. People went hungry, often unable to afford essentials, and many became migrant workers, drifters and hobos. This was at a time when there were no government safety nets or rights for workers.
If the support of the family failed, children were left to their own devices in most cases, and Guthrie was one who struggled to survive and wrote about his times in words and music. Called the father of the 1960s folk revival, Guthrie fathered eight children of his own and influenced music legends like Bob Dylan.
I could sit through this performance again. It is such a rare treat being close to a one-man show and seeing the colour in his eyes and the expressions on his face. Jones gave a brilliant performance with only a guitar and chair on stage. His talent is a combination of clear singing voice, confident accompaniment and masterful body movements, even in the aisles to include the audience. We all wanted to harmonize This Land Is Your Land with him.
Jones is Vancouver based and Bound For Glory in my opinion. That he can write such a play and perform so effortlessly on stage is a sure guarantee we will see him again.
Tonight, we will gaze at the moon and hopefully some heavenly stars as we celebrate the second full moon in the Winter Solstice.
Called the Snow Moon, Wolf Moon or the Hunger Moon, the association of love and death is a strong one in the mythology of many cultures. I love the Irish Goddess Brigid, and my circle will call on her for fire, inspiration, poetry and healing. I could use a lot of each attribute, especially the inspiration about now.
This time of year, we look for new dawns, new days and new sunrises. All the while humming along to Woody Guthrie songs and California Dreamin'.
The Kelowna Community Concert Association presents CanUs Tuesday evening at the community theatre. The program is described as, "A whole bunch of different stuff," and includes hot jazz, dixieland, swing, ragtime and blues. I hope we
park on Water Street, so I can see the skaters at Stuart Park, more beautiful than Rockefeller
Jeanette Dunagan is an Okanagan artist who has lived in Kelowna for more than
30 years. Her column appears each week in the Okanagan Saturday. Email her at