International Women’s Peace Conference/Woody Guthrie Festival

Thanks to Jeff Veazy, who placed me in the conference, I was on the bill with Jody Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who speaks out against land mines, and is also featured in the film, “Nobelity”, by Austin creative guru, Turk Pipkin.
She was an impassioned speaker, no notes, just blunt and factual about war, bombs, what we can do to change the world. After Jody, the IWPC Choir, about 10 women, got up to sing some peace oriented songs from around the world.

Rounding out the evening, Kristin and I hopped up on the stage in front of about 500-600 women, in front of which I recited a poem I had written on behalf of women, having the women interact about taking their part in change…we followed that with lots of singing. Oh, right…and I got everyone to yell from their gut. That was cool. Then I invited Lucy up to sing with her sisters, and that was really moving. Boy, American clothes for we women sure are boring!
We need to be able to have some attitude and color and creative accessories that empower our souls, too.

I had a super fancy suite, thanks to the IWPC, at the Adams Mark hotel. Got up around 5:30 am, got showered and dressed, and a town car took me to D/FW airport for my flight to Woody Fest. A very nice man named Tony picked me up in OKC, and I immediately apologized that I might nod off during the hour long drive to Okemah, and he was thoroughly understanding.

Got to the hotel, with about an hour and a half before my first show, but there was no room at the inn! The manager told me I would have to wait. (It’s funny how one minute I’m in a giant, gleaming fancy tower, and then the next I’m in a motel by the side of the highway, built on cinder blocks and sweat.) Tony went to find someone to convince the manager that I did, indeed, have a room. Standing in the lobby, I notice a statue of Ganesh next to a postcard of Woody on the receptionist’s desk. I was staring at those items while I was waiting. There was something very keen and brotherly about them, and I started smiling. Just standing there in the little lobby, smiling to myself. The manager returned. He said I could have a room, but it was not ready. I said, “No worries,” and went with him and we changed the sheets and pillowcases together. Me and a man from India. I kept wishing I could get him to smile, but he was all business.
Maybe if he had seen me smiling about Ganesh and Woody. I mentioned the two as we put the flat sheet on the bed, but either he didn’t hear me or was tired of having a hotel full of wacky musicians that stayed up until 4 a.m. playing loudly in the parking lot….so he was punishing me for the music I hadn’t even made yet…

Saw Ellis Paul in the parking lot. He looked good, albeit slightly groggy. Made it to my first gig in time to see Nancy Apple and a cowboy, whose name I can’t remember at the moment…they were both very good, but it didn’t sound like children’s music. All the kids were jumping on jumping jumps, or riding on the horse drawn wagon, so I figured by the time my turn came to sing under the tent, I’d just amuse myself, but lo and behold, people showed up, including Roger and Stripey Shirt Man, and families, everyone on lawn/camping chairs as there was mud everywhere from boisterous rains the days before. I sang through the amp and tried not to knock my guitar into the tiny guitar mic, laughing with everyone as we sang and jumped around (in the grass, not on the jumpy jumps). It was a lot of fun. I got asked to come back and do two shows next year. Yee-ha! Cold bottled water tastes really good, by the way, when it is humid
and you’ve been singing at lung capacity.

My next show was at 4:00 in the Crystal Theatre, about four blocks over. This is a theatre that has been around the block, I might add. Most likely built in the early 1920’s, it is hanging in there, but becoming quite shabby. There was water downstairs in the basement, and the wood is starting to rot, but the vibe the theatre holds is stellar. There was even a 1950’s five foot paper poster from New Year’s eve hanging in the corner that had a smiling New Year’s baby
watching the sands of time run down, and signatures all over the walls from 1930’s musicals and plays. It was an intriguing way to hang out while waiting to go upstairs and sing. I witnessed Sam Baker for the first time, and he is very funny, his hair grey tumbles of curls past his shoulders, tan and smiling, seating as he strums the guitar delicately and tells his odd stories to music. He was accompanied by Karen Mal on mandolin: it was lovely. Then a band came up and played, and, once again, I can’t remember the name of the performer! Ay yi yi! Forgive me….! Then it was my turn to go up, and I was solo, but I just had a great time, and the audience was so attentive…and towards the end, I got a standing ovation and when I came back out to do another song, a guy threw his boxer shorts up on stage! I’ve made it! My question was: when did he take off his PANTS?! I hung the shorts on the mic stand and had a good laugh. Later, he signed the shorts for me!

Afterwards, sat outside and signed pictures and sold cds. Everyone was so nice! I was jumping over the table to share hugs, and finally just blew off the table and stood next to it. After that, rode out with Susan Rhodes to the Pastures of Plenty. She’s the Kerrville photographer, and a nice woman, to boot. We realized that was the first time in 17 years we’ve actually gotten to hang out and chat! Got to the food tent back stage, and wowza! The food was incredible…
steaming dishes of pastas and fresh veggies, salads galore, baba ganush, condiments, cheese sauces, chips and homebaked cookies fresh from the oven. I grabbed a plate and sat down with Jimmy La Fave and Susan and David Amran and Jamaica, Joel Rafael’s daughter. Dinner was SCRUMPTIOUS. Went out front and walked around the artist’s tents, and ran into Stripey Shirt Man (aka Joseph, aka Buddy) and we ended up walking over for an ice cream from a giant inflated ice cream cone truck. Ended up having a seat with Joseph and friends, front row dead center!, to watch Joel Rafael and band and then Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines. It was all spectacular because the field was green green green and thousands of people, laying back, enjoying the great music to the pink and orange filled sunset….stacks of speakers upon speakers, loud but not annoyingly so…whoever was running sound did a yummy job. I started drifting off to sleep, so Susan took me back to the hotel….I wanted to stay up for the parking lot jam, which went on outside my room until 4 am, but I could never get myself out of the bed. So, I just listened from inside, admiring the virtousity of everyone’s song wafting through my windows….

Next morning, I got up and started writing. I wrote a song called “Later Than You Think”, and I decided to take a risk and ask everyone at the Hootenanny to jump in and sing it with me at the Crystal Theatre goodbye jam.
I was so deliriously tired and happy, I got weepy during the performance. I wish you could have been there. It was one of those moments where you know there will be mistakes, but what the heck….music is about the moment, isn’t it?

One Comment “International Women’s Peace Conference/Woody Guthrie Festival”

  • Suzy


    Hooray! I’ve been waiting since 2000 for Sarah to show up at the Woody Festival and she finally did! It is so much fun and I hope she becomes a regular.
    Being able to hear her angelic “My Mama’s Hands” while holding my daughter in my lap was a memory I’ll always treasure.
    We have one of the lithograph Woody Guthrie portaits in our living room and my children (ages 3 and 5) love to tell people Woody’s picutre is in our house. I want them to know what an influence he’s had on music and social justice.

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