Often hailed as the most important voice from the grass roots of America, Woody Guthrie was a dynamic, articulate spokesperson from the Dust Bowl community who was able to verbalize contemporary issues in the vernacular of the “folk.” This presentation that includes live music will focus on Guthrie’s search for the “American Dream” upon his arrival in Southern California in the late 1930s, as well as the radicalization of his political ideology and his songs addressing the treatment of Dust Bowl migrants. The greatest success of his Dust Bowl Ballads album was to portray his subjects in humanistic terms even while making an economic or political point, causing the general public to question whether the American capitalist system was serving the interests of the working poor.
J.B. Faires is an adjunct professor in the music department at Eastern. He earned a doctor of musical arts degree in jazz studies and ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois. His courses at EIU include The Evolution of Jazz and Rock and Non-Western Music. As a performer, he can be seen and heard regularly throughout the Midwest playing jazz, rock, Cajun, zydeco and old-time string band music.