Lance & Carlos — 17th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, 2014

Woodyfest 2014: Lance Canales & the Flood



In 2013, Lance Canales and his band, the Flood, cov­ered [Sidenote: This is the first post in our cov­er­age of the sev­en­teenth annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. We’ll be alter­nat­ing our report­ing with essays and photo gal­leries from the twenty-sec­ond fes­ti­val in 2019, so check in often for a mix of old and new Woodyfest good­ness.] Woody Guthrie’s song “Refugee.” Guthrie wrote the song shortly after the 1948 plane wreck at Los Gatos, California, which killed the cabin crew and twenty-eight Mexican nation­als. Some of the Hispanic vic­tims were return­ing home fol­low­ing the ter­mi­na­tion of bracero con­tracts. [Sidenote: The Bracero pro­gram (from the Spanish term bracero, mean­ing man­ual laborer or one who works using his arms) was a series of labor laws and diplo­matic agree­ments between the United States and Mexico.] Others were being deported for being undoc­u­mented. While the now famous song brought inter­na­tional atten­tion to the inci­dent, the names of the dead remained largely unknown to the American pub­lic. The mod­est marker at the gravesite said only, 28 MEXICAN CITIZENS WHO DIED IN AN AIRPLANE ACCIDENT NEAR COALINGA, CALIFORNIA ON JANUARY 28, 1948 R.I.P.

Canales first per­formed “Refugee” at the 2012 Steinbeck Festival. [Sidenote: Artist bio, ReverbNation.] Woody’s orig­i­nal laments the anonymity of the Hispanic vic­tims. In his cover, Canales names each of the vic­tims. This con­trasts with con­tem­po­rary news­pa­per arti­cles, which sim­ply labeled them depor­tees. [Sidenote: The only named vic­tims in most con­tem­po­rary report­ing were the cabin crew and an immi­gra­tion offi­cial.] Soon after he began per­form­ing the song, he learned that the grave con­tain­ing these lost souls was in Fresno, California, not far from his cur­rent home.

Say Their Names

By August Canales was orga­niz­ing a fundrais­ing con­cert with poet Tim Z. Hernandez, Nora Guthrie (Woody’s daugh­ter), and the Guthrie Foundation. The con­cert raised $10,000 for a mon­u­ment fea­tur­ing the Los Gatos vic­tims’ names. The marker was later placed at the gravesite. The names them­selves were dis­cov­ered through Hernandez’s curios­ity and ded­i­ca­tion. [Sidenote: Diana Marcum, Passengers on Doomed 1948 Flight, Their Names Now Emerge from Shadows,”, Los Angeles Times (10 July 2013).]

In 2014, Hernandez joined Lance Canales and the Flood to open the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. While the band riffed on an instru­men­tal break from “Refugee,” Hernandez recited the names of the twenty-eight. They are:

  • Miguel Negrete Álvarez
  • Tomás Aviña de Gracia
  • Francisco Llamas Durán
  • Santiago García Elizondo
  • Rosalio Padilla Estrada
  • Tomás Padilla Márquez
  • Bernabé López Garcia
  • Salvador Sandoval Hernández
  • Severo Medina Lára
  • Elías Trujillo Macias
  • José Rodriguez Macias
  • Luis López Medina
  • Manuel Calderón Merino
  • Luis Cuevas Miranda
  • Martin Razo Navarro
  • Ignacio Pérez Navarro
  • Román Ochoa Ochoa
  • Ramón Paredes Gonzalez
  • Guadalupe Ramírez Lára
  • Apolonio Ramírez Placencia
  • Alberto Carlos Raygoza
  • Guadalupe Hernández Rodríguez
  • Maria Santana Rodríguez
  • Juan Valenzuela Ruiz
  • Wenceslao Flores Ruiz
  • José Valdívia Sánchez
  • Jesús Meza Santos
  • Baldomero Marcas Torres



My favorite new Woodyfest per­former in 2014 was also my first to see: Lance Canales and the Flood. Canales sings of work­ing life and hard­ship, sub­jects he knows all too well: he grew up work­ing-class and for years was forced to take his lumps in order to help his fam­ily make ends meet. [Sidenote: Artist bio, ReverbNation.]

Impossible to take one’s eyes off of, Canales com­manded the stage. His grav­elly vocals and pound­ing accom­pa­ni­ment chased away all early-morn­ing fatigue. He’s been back twice, in 2016 and 2017. If we are all lucky, he will return.

About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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