News & Reviews


January 11, 2012

Joel Rafael to Present His "Woody Guthrie's American Road" Program on the Lyceum State at San Diego Repertory on January 20

Rafael Also to Play Acoustic Concert Live at Rock Valley in San Diego on Jan. 21

As Woody Guthrie's centennial year begins, singer-songwriter Joel Rafael will present his program "Woody Guthrie's American Road" before the Friday, January 20 performance of the world premiere workshop production of A Hammer, A Bell, and a Song To Sing at San Diego Repertory (Jan. 10-29, Rafael, known for his interpretations of Guthrie's work, takes the stage at 7PM, to paint a vivid portrait of the American folk icon through live musical performance, photographic images, and readings of Guthrie's prose. "Woody Guthrie's American Road" evokes the timelessness of Guthrie's musical and literary contributions, and the relevance of his overall body of work.

Rafael will also perform an acoustic concert of original material in San Diego the following night, Saturday, January 21, at Live at Rock Valley. Showtime is 8PM, doors at 7PM.

Joel Rafael's "Woody Guthrie's America Road" is one of the thematically connected "Surround Events" booked during the run of A Hammer, A Bell, and a Song To Sing, a multi-media show inspired by the work of Peter Seeger and his grandson Tao Seeger. The world premiere workshop production was written by Todd Salovey with Vaughn Armstrong, Dave Crossland and Jim Mooney.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to open one of the performances," says Rafael. "It's inspiring to realize how relevant the show's message is to the 'Occupy' era, and to contemporary times in general - and how meaningful it is for people to hear these words and songs."

Joel Rafael's long association with Guthrie includes having performed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival - aka WoodyFest - every year since its 1998 inception. Rafael has also released two Guthrie tribute albums, Woodeye and Woodyboye (The Songs of Woody Guthrie, Volumes 1 and 2, respectively, on Inside Recordings). Several tracks feature new original music Rafael composed for previously unpublished lyrics by Guthrie (lyrics entrusted to Rafael by Woody's daughter Nora Guthrie). Rafael has also released five albums of original songs; his 2008 release, Thirteen Stories High features the protest anthem "This Is My Country," with David Crosby and Graham Nash on background vocals. He is currently in the studio working on a new album to be released this year.

Joel Rafael's lifetime journey as a performing songwriter began in showcases and small clubs around Southern California. He performed as a duo with Rosie Flores in the late 1970s, and opened for artists including Rick Danko, Emmy Lou Harris, John Lee Hooker, John Stewart, Laura Nyro, and Taj Majal, touring the southwest with Jesse Colin Young in the 1981. In 1994, with the Joel Rafael Band, he gained national airplay, and in 2003, toured with Joan Baez. Rafael won the Kerrville Folk Festival's "New Folk Emerging Songwriter Award" in 1995. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Folk Alliance International.

The GRAMMY Museum, in conjunction with Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. and the Woody Guthrie Archives, will honor Guthrie's extraordinary body of work and impact on American music with a yearlong centennial celebration kicking off in February 2012. Centennial events including tribute concerts, conferences, a touring exhibition, and hootenannies are being tracked on the special website

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