In the summer of 1941, a musical group of labor activists known as The Almanac Singers climbed into a midnight blue Buick and blazed a trail across the USA, spreading the gospel of unionism and bringing folk music back to the people.
The group, with members Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays & Mill Lampell, created a new kind of topical music, using old folk melodies to tell the stories of the times. They played in union halls, on picket lines, theaters and radio shows, planting seeds wherever they went.
The Almanacs’ now almost-mythical journey has become an inspiration for legions of musicians, free thinkers, and gasoline gypsies, and has paved the road for many of today’s singer/songwriters. At the core of it were some of the greatest labor songs ever written, including “Union Maid,” “Talking Union,” and “Which Side Are You On?”
Some 70 years later, with the help and guidance of Pete Seeger and The Woody Guthrie Archives, two modern-day troubadours are following in the footsteps of the old Almanacs. With banjos and guitars and a bag full of union songs, Rik Palieri and George Mann are traveling down the road from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, up the west coast and then from Seattle to Buffalo, singing at some of the same places and towns, and inviting local musicians to join in, as in the original tour.
The tour rolls into Minneapolis this Thursday, Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Eagles Club, 2507 E. 25th St. Parking is available in the Eagles parking lot and on the street.
This is a free event, and all ages are welcome. Food and drink are available at the hall. Thanks to local hosts, the CWA MN State Council, for sponsoring this event, and the Minneapolis Eagles #34 for the use of their facility.