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Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, March 16, 2012, Music

The Grammy Museum's Woody Guthrie Centennial Tribute

St. David's Bethell Hall, Thursday, March 15

Woody's daughter Nora rechristened St. David's Bethell Hall "the church of songwriting" for her dad's 100-year hootenanny. Gathered inside were a collection of singers from Austin and beyond. David Garza and Carrie Rodriguez represented the modern wave of Guthrie fans by drawing from Mermaid Avenue material, while fellow locals Michael Fracasso and Colin Gilmore maintained glorious authenticity. Garland Jeffreys and Joel Rafael played unheard Guthrie compositions personally chosen for them by Nora. Ray Benson's appropriate version of "Philadelphia Lawyer" and Ruthie Foster's take on "Against the Law" brought down the house, but a bigger ruckus was raised by Lila Downs, who got the crowd clapping to an electric medley of "Pastures of Plenty," "This Land Is Your Land," and her original lyrics. Family friend Jimmy LaFave headlined with a loud and soulful version of "Bound for Glory" and a country-rock version of "The Grand Coulee Dam" before Arlo Guthrie came out and brought every performer with him for a massive sing-along of "This Land Is Your Land." "That's the great thing about Woody Guthrie," said Arlo. "The man's been dead for a long time, and because of my sister, he comes out with a new song every day." He closed the night by teaching all in attendance an unknown Woody song that declared, "My peace is all I've got."

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