Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born in 1912, in Oklahoma. In the 55 years of his life, he witnessed enormous political and social change and, influenced by the changing world around him, penned a great many political and traditional folk songs. He is widely regarded as hugely influential by songwriters including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joe Strummer and Billy Bragg. In short, he influenced the influential.
The last name in that list, English folk hero Billy Bragg, is perhaps the one who has conducted the most passionate love affair with the work of Woody Guthrie. In the nineties, Woody's daughter Nora unearthed an huge haul of lyrics penned by her father and stored at their Mermaid Avenue home in Brooklyn. Bragg, already a Guthrie aficionado, was invited to put the words to music and, with the band Wilco, set about doing just that. The album 'Mermaid Avenue' was released in 1998, followed by a second volume in 2000 and, this year, re-issued as 'The Complete Sessions'.
This Olympic year marks a century since Woody Guthrie's birth and to celebrate the anniversary, Bragg is taking the Mermaid Avenue sessions on the road with the Ain't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me Tour, taking in four UK and Ireland dates as part of a wider tour of Europe and North America. For each date, Bragg will be supported by a range of musicians and vocalists. In London, he's joined by Joe Henry and Grace Petrie; in Glasgow it will be KT Tunstall.
The short jaunt starts in Treorci, Wales, on 12th September, followed by Glasgow (part of No Mean City 2012), London and, finally, Dublin on 17th September 2013. The London show is on sale now and we will have tickets for the remaining dates from 9am on Friday 25th May, priced from around £16 for the UK shows. Ahead of the autumn Woody dates, Billy Bragg is also appearing at The Apple Cart 2012 and the St Ives September Festival 2012.