Woody Turns Two

I have written about the Woody Guthrie Center before:  here, here and here.

It is a hidden gem of Tulsa in my opinion.   Situated in the always dynamic and hip Brady Arts District, it recently celebrated its second anniversary.    Last weekend’s celebration was marked with some fantastic music.

Unfortunately we missed out on the musical festivities on Thursday and Friday of the celebration, but we made an afternoon of it on Guthrie Green (a modern park across from the WGC) on Saturday. It was a beautiful afternoon and evening and we heard some exceptional music and even ran into a couple of friends on the Green.

Now, let me segue a bit here.

Have you heard of Sam Baker?   I heard an interview with him on NPR’s Fresh Air about a year ago.   I was mesmerized, not only by his music but also his life experiences.  I became a fan.  I converted The Hubs.   Sam spoke to us.  I immediately bought Say Grace.   Then, I began looking for tour dates close to us.  There were no dates in our immediate vicinity.  (Sam is based in Austin, TX.)

I really needed some good news at work last week and Sam gave it to me.  There on my laptop screen was an email alerting me that he would be playing a free concert of the WGC celebration.

Sam is such an artist, gentleman and songwriter.  (Rolling Stone named his song “Ditch” one of the “Best 100 Songs of 2013.”)   He was third on the lineup (following Lance Canales, who we unfortunately missed, and Garrett Labeau, whom we did catch and who is a new favorite).

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Garrett Labaeu


Sam played songs from his pantheon of work and every song spoke to us.   I know that sounds like a cliche, but it is true.   He, like Woody Guthrie, is truly “a man of the people” writing about the common man’s daily dilemmas, hopes and dreams.   Some of the highlights of his set included the aforementioned “Ditch,” along with “Truale” and “Orphan.”  I am being serious here; I am not the overly emotional type.  There were numerous songs that brought tears to my eyes.

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Sam Baker, our hero


I could not wait to get to the merchandise table after his set, buy a couple of the CDs we did not have and meet him.

The Hubs and I went over and picked up Mercy and Cotton.   Sam came over and told us to by Mercy later, and to buy Cotton and Pretty World instead.   (Interesting that he would direct us in this way.) Then, we introduced ourselves and got hugs from Sam.   I was star struck.   We gushed how much we loved his music and I got a second hug.   He signed our CDs and sincerely stated that he meant and lived what was on the inside cover.

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We floated back to our blanket and settled in for the final two sets of the night.   Jimmy LaFave was next up.  (I have seen this native Okie two other times, once at the WG Centennial Concert and once at All Soul’s Coffee House.)  Loved it.  Jimmy had everyone on stage during his final song “Oklahoma Hills.”  2015-05-02 19.46.21


Then, Hal Ketchum strolled on stage.     I was so glad we stayed for the final set.   I just downloaded most of his music on Amazon Prime.

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Hal Ketchum


The moon was full, the music was over, so we said goodbye to our friends and headed for Hey Mambo for a late night dinner.

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We were lucky enough to get a high top on the patio.  We ordered the Dattero Scialle (goat cheese stuffed medjoul dates wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with warm local honey and balsamic glaze).   We were munching on this seriously delicious appetizer when Sam Baker walked by with a couple of friends (including the keyboardist).    I kicked The Hubs.   “Look who’s here!”

Sam and his friends were seated inside.

Another segue alert:   A couple of years ago, we had tickets to see Pokey LaFarge at Cain’s Ballroom.   We were wandering around the aforementioned Brady District, just wasting time before the concert.   We rounded a corner and literally almost ran into Pokey and his wife.  They were looking at the menu outside The Tavern.

We walked on by.

We have always regretted not offering to buy them drinks inside The Tavern.

The Hubs decided that he would not let another musical icon go unnoticed.   He called our waiter over and asked how big of a hassle it would be to buy drinks for Sam’s table.   Well, most of them were drinking water or coffee our waiter relayed to us.   The Hubs said, “What the heck, let’s buy them dinner.”

Minutes later, Sam Baker was at our table giving us more hugs.

I don’t write this to be braggadocios in any way.   I write it as encouragement to always go with your gut, don’t be afraid to meet your idols, and to live in the moment.

Sorry, no selfies…..Doh!   I will always regret that.

(The Hubs does realize that I would never leave him.  It used to be our joke that if I did run away, it would be with Anthony Bourdain.   Now he knows he has to worry about Sam Baker, too.)

Postscript:  Our waiter, who looked like he was twelve, kept quizzing us about who this Sam Baker guy was.   I told him that Rolling Stone named one of his songs as a Top 100.  All our little waiter heard was “Rolling Stone.” 

“He’s in the Rolling Stones?!?!?!?!” he excitedly responded. 

I had to talk him down.  

Geesh, youth….


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