John Fullbright at the Keyboard — 21st Annual Woody Guthrie Festival, 2018

Woodyfest 2018: Randy Crouch, Johnny Irion, & John Fullbright

Closing Night

Closing Night

This writer [Sidenote: Welcome to part thirty-three of The Bureau’s Woodyfest 21 cov­er­age. This final post wraps up with Randy Crouch, Johnny Irion, and John Fullbright.] had only one offi­cial assign­ment (cov­er­ing gritty soul-singer Opal Agafia) at the big out­door stage on . Red Dirt leg­end Randy Crouch pre­ceded her. Unfortunately, his set coin­cided with my only chance to eat din­ner before I had to be back in front of the stage. I snapped a cou­ple of pic­tures of Crouch from upstage and trusted the other pho­tog­ra­phers to get some decent photos.

After Agafia’s set I stayed to doc­u­ment the goings-on back­stage and lis­ten to the clos­ing acts, Johnny Irion and home­town hero John Fullbright. [Sidenote: Although Fullbright attended Okemah High School, he hails from nearby Bearden.] I did wan­der out front for some of Fullbright’s set, as evi­denced by the photo gallery. I even man­aged to snap a rare image of him with his eyes open.

Fullbright was joined by reknowned song­writer Willis Alan Ramsey at the begin­ning of his set. Ramsey per­formed “Boy from Oklahoma” [Sidenote: The song pays trib­ute to Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie.] from his epony­mous album.

Thanks for stick­ing with me through this look back at Woodyfest . I’ll see you at the Pastures of Plenty in !

Randy Crouch

Randy Crouch, known as the World’s Best Rock ’n’ Roll Fiddler, [Sidenote: Wright, Leif M., “Greatness wears a big beard: World’s best rock fid­dle player also inspires,” (OK Weekend​.com ). Archived at the Internet Wayback Machine.] had an unbro­ken streak play­ing Woodyfest until , when ill­ness pre­vented him attend­ing. The Oklahoma Music Awards Red Dirt Hall of Fame inductee lives in Tahlequah where he holds court over reg­u­lar jam sess­sions fea­tur­ing some of Oklahoma’s best folk, coun­try, and rock musi­cians and songwriters.

Crouch is a vir­tu­oso multi-instru­men­tal­ists. I once saw him play where he’s over a steel gui­tar and a piano while he’s play­ing fid­dle. In the mid­dle of the song, he wants to tune up the fid­dle, so he hits the A note on the piano with his fid­dle bow and tunes the string and keeps on playing. [Sidenote: Jim Blair, quoted in Ibid.]

Johnny Irion

Sometimes com­pared to Harry Nilsson because of his vocal tim­bre, folk-rocker Johnny Irion made his Woodyfest début in . He’s been back five time since, often join­ing forces with Sarah Lee Guthrie, to whom he is also mar­ried. His songs evoke both California rock and Guthrie-esqe folk, prompt­ing Bernie Sanders to invite Irion to sing at a polit­i­cal rally in . Irion released his most recent album, Driving Friend, .

John Fullbright

John Fullbright released his album, From the Ground Up, to crit­i­cal acclaim — gar­ner­ing praise from National Public Radio, American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, and The Wall Street Journal. The album received a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for Best Americana Album, which went to Bonnie Raitt for her album Slipstream.

His star keeps ris­ing: in he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Stage as musi­cal guest for The Late Show with David Letterman. Fullbright released a third crit­i­cally acclaimed album.

If you were lucky enough to hear the Okemah high-schooler try out his songs around the Woodyfest camp song-cir­cles a dozen-or-so years ago, you prob­a­bly knew Fullbright was some­thing spe­cial. But even he didn’t forsee his rapid ascent. I never came into this with a whole lot of expec­ta­tions. I just wanted to write really good songs, and with that out­look, every­thing else is a perk. The fact that we went to LA and played “Gawd Above” in front of a star-stud­ded audi­ence […], never in my life would I have imag­ined that. [Sidenote: “Who Is John Fullbright?” Press kit biog­ra­phy from john​full​bright​.com. Author and date unknown.]

We imag­ine greater things to come.

Gallery: Crouch, Irion, & Fullbright

Gallery: Crouch, Irion, & Fullbright

About Chris J. Zähller

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

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