Natalie Kfoury – Co-editor-in-chief
On October 4, Lasell continued its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the iconic American singer-songwriter and folk music legend, by hosting the Woody Guthrie Jam. Lead by Professor Lorraine Hammond, the event turned the Yamawaki Gallery into a very inviting space where anyone could pick up an instrument and sing to join in on the fun.
“One of the beauties of Woody Guthrie’s songs is that the choruses and the music are so easy to play and sing…he had a tremendous energy about the music,” said Hammond.
During the Jam, students, faculty members, and guests played a variety of instruments including various guitars, drums, clarinets, banjos, and a mandolin. Instruments could be shared and anyone could suggest a song from Guthrie’s vast collection, including “This Train is Bound for Glory” and “Deportees,” making it a relaxed and intimate event. There was no pressure and singing by all was welcomed.
“If I can sing, then anyone can sing,” said Margo Lemieux, a professor of fine arts.
“Everyone was sincerely happy… when everyone was playing together, you could feel the connection between everyone and the music. I had walked into the Yamawaki building expecting to find it empty, but, by surprise, there was a bunch of people. I got welcomed to play and was handed a guitar,” said sophomore Elizabeth Centauro.
In addition, the event enlightened members of the Lasell community to the various meanings of Guthrie’s songs. Hammond, along with others, explained why the songs were written and why they were important for the times then and today.
“His energy just keeps keeping on and on,” said Hammond. “Some of his songs really told stories. Woody has a way of lightening tough situations, such as the Dust Bowl.”
To Hammond, the event was most successful because it gave people the chance to take part and share their voice. The event was fun and intimate because those involved allowed it to be and took full advantage of the jam session.
“[Events like this] keep music in the community. We tend to listen to other people play and sing in this society, but something powerful happens when people get together and do the songs. And Woody Guthrie believed in that, too,” said Hammond. “I have a vision of Lasell as a place where more of this happens.”
Lasell is hosting a Guthrie exhibit this month in the Yamawaki Gallery. The work–including original lyrics, paintings, and photographs– displayed in the gallery is borrowed from the Guthrie archives in New York. Samantha Mackie, a sophomore, works in the gallery.
“He was an inspiration to people. It’s important to know about his work. We need to know that the world is meant for others and not just ourselves. His work teaches us how to coexist,” said Mackie.