The Life & Songs of Woody Guthrie

Folk artist Dvorak pays tribute to Woody Guthrie in St. Charles February 24

ST. CHARLES IL - American folk ballad maker Woody Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma July 14, 1912. By the end of the Great Depression, Guthrie had crisscrossed the country numerous times by rail and by hitchhiking. He had also written some of his most memorable songs including, “So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh,” “Pastures of Plenty,” “Roll On Columbia” and “I Ain’t Got No Home.” 


In the late 1930s Guthrie heard then popular singer Kate Smith sing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on the radio and he began working on a sarcastic rebuttal initially titled, “God Blessed America For Me.”

“I don’t think ‘God Bless America’ rang true for Guthrie,” said folk artist Mark Dvorak who will pay tribute to Guthrie on Sunday, February 24 at 2:00 pm at the St. Charles Library.

“The America he saw while traveling was very different than the things he heard in Irving Berlin’s song. He saw a lot of people really having a tough time, struggling to find work, to eat and struggling to just get by.”

After coming home to New York in 1940, Guthrie finished his song with a new title, “This Land Is Your Land,” and it became one of America’s most famous folk anthems.

Dvorak will be sure to include “This Land” in the February 24 program. 

“It’s a very fitting date to celebrate Woody as he completed the song on February 23,” said the singer who has followed in the musical footsteps of Guthrie for "nearly my whole life." 

Dvorak’s program “The Life & Songs of Woody Guthrie” was adapted from various sources including old LPs, and an earlier script he developed from Guthrie’s vast collection of novels, biographies, essays and newspaper columns.

“The main feature of course are Woody’s timeless songs,” said Dvorak. He lived a pretty tough life, but through it all he kept writing and he kept singing.

Chicago’s Mark Dvorak has been active on the faculty of the Old Town School of Folk Music for over thirty years where he is artist-in-residence. The Chicago Tribune calls him “masterful,” and the Fox Valley Folk Festival describes him as “a living archive of song and style. In 2012 WFMT 98.7 fm named Dvorak Chicago’s “official troubadour.

The St. Charles Library is located at One S. 6th Avenue. For more information contact the Library at 630 584 0076 or online at

For more information visit Mark Dvorak on line at

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