Bob Childers on stage with the Red Dirt Rangers (John Cooper, Brad Piccolo, Ben Han)
at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival
July 11, 2007
|Born||November 20, 1946|
West Union, West Virginia
|Origin||Ponca City, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Died||April 22, 2008 (aged 61)|
|Genres||Red Dirt, Country, Folk, Bluegrass|
|Labels||Binky Records, Smith Music|
|Associated acts||Woody Guthrie, Jason Boland, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Randy Crouch, The Red Dirt Rangers, No Justice|
Robert Wayne Childers (20 November 1946 – 22 April 2008) was an American country-folk musician and singer-songwriter from the state of Oklahoma.Both before and after his death, he achieved widespread critical acclaim having been compared to songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. Childers is often labeled the "father", "grandfather", or "godfather" of the regional Oklahoman music scene known as Red Dirt music.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues.
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
Childers was born on November 20, 1946, in West Union, West Virginia, to parents Howard and Rhea (Gaskins) Childers. At the age of seven, he and his family moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma.He developed an interest in music and started playing guitar at age 16. After graduating from Ponca City High School, he moved even further west to study music in Berkeley, California. After a stint in California, Childers returned to Oklahoma, this time to Stillwater, where he found "people interested in the natural and supernatural aspects of life and love, and folks not afraid to sing about it."
West Union, incorporated July 20, 1881, is a town in Doddridge County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 825 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Doddridge County. The mayor is Joseph Thorpe as of 2013. The town is located along Middle Island Creek at the junction of U.S. Route 50 and West Virginia Route 18; the North Bend Rail Trail also passes through the town.
Ponca City is a city in Kay County and in Osage County in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, which was named after the Ponca Tribe. Ponca City had a population of 25,387 at the time of the 2010 census.
Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.
Childers emerged in 1979 with his debut album titled I Ain't No Jukebox which he recorded with help from friend Jimmy LaFave. The album received many positive reviews and led Childers to begin touring nationwide. In March 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor disaster took place. Protestors of Three Mile Island, having heard Childers' song "Sunshine, Wind and Water," invited him to perform at a no-nukes rally in Washington, DC. Childers performed before Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger in front of a crowd estimated to be 65,000 to 100,000 persons.
Jimmy LaFave was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. After moving to Stillwater, Oklahoma, LaFave became a supporter of Woody Guthrie. He later became an Advisory Board member and regular performer at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival.
The Three Mile Island accident was the partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It was the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident with wider consequences.
Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer-songwriter. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, he is known for singing songs of protest against social injustice, and storytelling while performing songs. Guthrie's best-known work is his debut piece, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", a satirical talking blues song about 18 minutes in length that has since become a Thanksgiving anthem. His only top-40 hit was a cover of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans". His song "Massachusetts" was named the official folk song of the state in which he has lived most of his adult life. Guthrie has also made several acting appearances. He is the father of four children, who have also had careers as musicians.
His second album, Singing Trees, Dancing Waters, was recorded in 1982 and released on March 30, 1983. Afterwards, he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017.
In 1986, Childers released two albums: Four Horsemen and a collection of instrumental works entitled King David's Lament. While many of his peers had success in Nashville, Childers chose to relocate to Austin, Texas. He then released Circles Toward the Sun (1990). By 1991 Childers had relocated again, back to Oklahoma where he released Nothin' More Natural (1996), Hat Trick (1999)and a fan club collection of rarities La vita è bella - Outtakes, Demos and Jams 1980 - 1988 (2000.) His return to Oklahoma facilitated collaboration with other Red Dirt music artists including Dirt & Spirit with The Great Divide (1999), Two Buffalos Walking - Live At The Blue Door with Terry "Buffalo" Ware (2003), Kindred Spirits with Randy Crouch (2004) and Ride for the Cimarron with Jason Boland and the Stragglers (2006.)
Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.
Randy Crouch is an Oklahoma-based multi-instrumentalist. In eastern Oklahoma, Crouch is best known as a fiddle player. Although he has been referred to as "the world's best rock fiddler," Crouch also plays guitar and pedal steel among other instruments.
In 2003, Jimmy LaFave produced a Woody Guthrie tribute show called Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway. The ensemble show toured around the country and included a rotating cast of singer-songwriters individually performing Guthrie's songs. Interspersed between songs were Guthrie's philosophical writings read by Childers, sometimes called the "Dylan of the dust",who served as the show's narrator.
By 2004, Childers' health was in decline. A long-time smoker, Childers suffered from numerous lung-related ailments including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (often referred to as "lung disease"). To help Childers with his medical bills, Chris Maxwell of Binky Records spearheaded an effort to raise funds. The result was the 2004 triple-CD compilation album entitled Restless Spirits: A Tribute to the Songs of Bob Childers. The collection features tracks from over fifty performers who donated versions of Childers' songs recorded at their own expense.Childers succumbed to his illnesses on April 22, 2008, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Five years prior to his death, Childers was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Awards Red Dirt Hall of Fame along with Steve Ripley and Tom Skinner.In an interview with The Current in 2007, Childers said of his songwriting, "I just keep it honest and keep it simple. There really is no secret to writing a song." Even before the release of the tribute box-set Restless Spirits, Childers influence on other songwriters was pervasive. The Tulsa World reported that Bob Childers songs have been recorded by more than 200 artists. Many musicians have stated that Childers served as a mentor. Bassist-guitarist Bob Wiles said of Childers, "He was the first older, respected musician to take us seriously, probably when we didn't deserve it. And he encouraged us to take ourselves seriously. He's done that with a lot of bands. Bob is that common thread through us all." When asked what it was like to be a mentor to so many aspiring singer-songwriters, Childers said, "I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. It makes me try a little harder, knowing that people are being influenced. It makes me try to do right a little bit more."
Childers was a regular at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival held every July in Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. At the 10th annual festival in July 2007, seven "10-year artists" - artists who had participated every year since the festival's inception - performed at a benefit show titled "In the Spirit of Woody Guthrie". Artists included Jimmy LaFave, Don Conoscenti, Ellis Paul, Joel Rafael, Terry "Buffalo" Ware, the Red Dirt Rangers, and Childers.
On July 8, 2008, a special pre-festival Childers tribute show was held at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa on the evening before the official start of the festival. Performers included Jimmy LaFave, The Burns Sisters, the Red Dirt Rangers, Mike McClure, Joel Rafael, Stoney LaRue and Tom Skinner.In addition, the festival program booklet included a special Bob Childers Memorial Page, and quotes made by his songwriting friends were interspersed as tributes throughout. The Tulsa World announced that Childers would be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in October 2008 at a gala to be held in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The induction ceremony, held at the Muskogee Civic Center, took place on October 8, 2008. The Red Dirt Rangers and Tom Skinner accepted the award on behalf of Childers.
Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music; his music, including songs, such as "This Land Is Your Land", has inspired several generations both politically and musically. He wrote hundreds of political, folk, and children's songs, along with ballads and improvised works. His album of songs about the Dust Bowl period, Dust Bowl Ballads, is included on Mojo magazine's list of 100 Records That Changed The World. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Hunter, Harry Chapin, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Andy Irvine, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jerry Garcia, Jay Farrar, Bob Weir, Jeff Tweedy, Bob Childers, Sammy Walker, Tom Paxton, AJJ, Brian Fallon, and Sixto Rodríguez have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence. He frequently performed with the slogan "This machine kills fascists" displayed on his guitar.
While the music of Oklahoma is relatively young, Oklahoma has been a state for just over 100 years, and it has a rich history and many fine and influential musicians.
Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. Born in Aroostook County, Maine, Paul is a key figure in what has become known as the Boston school of songwriting, a literate, provocative, and urbanely romantic folk-pop style that helped ignite the folk revival of the 1990s. His pop music songs have appeared in movies and on television, bridging the gap between the modern folk sound and the populist traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
Paul Steven Ripley was an American recording artist, record producer, songwriter, studio engineer, guitarist, and inventor. He entered the music industry in 1977. He was also the leader/producer of country rock band The Tractors.
The Tulsa Sound is a popular musical style that originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the second half of the twentieth century. It is a mix of rockabilly, country, rock 'n' roll, and blues sounds of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Artists considered to have pioneered the Tulsa Sound include J. J. Cale, Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop, Jesse Ed Davis, Gus Hardin, Roger Tillison, David Gates, Eric Clapton, Rocky Frisco, Clyde Stacy, Flash Terry, Jimmy "Junior " Markham, The Tractors, Steve Ripley, David Teegarden, Jim Byfield, John D. Levan, Chuck Blackwell, The Zigs, Don White, and Steve Pryor. The sound of Power Pop musician Dwight Twilley was different from the Tulsa sound.
Red Dirt is a music genre that gets its name from the color of soil found in Oklahoma. Stillwater, Oklahoma is considered to be the center of red dirt music ; but the genre also extends to music made south of the Red River in Texas. Outlaw country legends Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson have been associated with the distinctive Texas Sound, while the late Oklahoma singer-songwriter Bob Childers is widely recognized as the Father of Oklahoma Red Dirt music. At one time, the distinction between the two genres was sonically obvious, but by 2008, that gap had diminished.
The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival is held annually in mid-July to commemorate the life and music of Woody Guthrie. The festival is held on the weekend closest to July 14 - the date of Guthrie's birth - in Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. Daytime main stage performances are held indoors at the Brick Street Cafe and the Crystal Theatre. Evening main stage performances are held outdoors at the Pastures of Plenty. The festival is planned and implemented annually by the Woody Guthrie Coalition, a non-profit corporation, whose goal is simply to ensure Guthrie's musical legacy. The event is made possible in part from a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, Woody Guthrie's younger sister, is the festival's perennial guest of honor.
John Steven Wooley is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 25 books. They include his two newest, Shot in Oklahoma, a history of made-in-Oklahoma movies for the University of Oklahoma Press that was recently named Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History for 2011 by the Oklahoma Historical Society, and a biography of horror-movie director Wes Craven, The Man and His Nightmares, for John Wiley and Sons. Other recent works include his novel Ghost Band; The Miracle Squad, a graphic novel reprinting – with the addition of new material – the comic-book series he did with artist Terry Tidwell in the 1980s; Forgotten Horrors Vol. 5: The Atom Age and Forgotten Horrors Comics & Stories, the latest volumes in his ongoing series with co-authors Michael H. Price and Jan Alan Henderson; The Home Ranch, written with famed Osage rancher John Hughes; and From the Blue Devils to Red Dirt: The Colors of Oklahoma Music, one of only three books commissioned by the Oklahoma Centennial Commission and a finalist for the 2007 Oklahoma Book Award.
Joel Rafael is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician from San Diego County, California. Rafael's second volume to celebrate the songs of Woody Guthrie, was released on Appleseed in 2005. The first volume, Woodeye, was released on Inside Recordings in 2003. Joel and his acoustic band have been performing and touring nationally since 1993. In 2000, the Joel Rafael Band, comprising Joel Rafael,, his daughter Jamaica, Carl Johnson and Jeff Berkley (ethno-percussion), released their third album, Hopper on Inside Recordings, an independent label created by Jackson Browne and his management. The album was nominated in 2001 for an Association For Independent Music (AFIM) Best Contemporary Folk award.
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, are a musical duo. Guthrie and Irion were married on October 16, 1999 and began performing together as an acoustic duo in the fall of 2000. Their music combined Irion's love of rock and blues with Guthrie's roots of folk and country.
The Woody Guthrie Foundation, founded in 1972, is a non-profit organization which formerly served as administrator and caretaker of the Woody Guthrie Archives. Dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of information about Guthrie's vast cultural legacy, the Woody Guthrie Archives houses the largest collection of Woody Guthrie material in the world. The archives opened to the public in New York City in 1996. The archives were subsequently moved to the new Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2013, after being acquired by the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Foundation. The Center officially opened on April 27, 2013.
Stoney LaRue is an American Texas Country/Red Dirt artist. Born in Taft, Texas, LaRue was raised in Yanush/Buffalo Valley, Oklahoma where he still visits regularly and began playing country music at a young age.
Terry Buffalo Ware is an American guitarist and composer.
John Fullbright is an American singer-songwriter from Okemah, Oklahoma. While still in high school, Fullbright performed at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah. In 2009 he released the album Live at the Blue Door and three years later released his first studio album, From the Ground Up, which received a Grammy nomination in the category Best Americana Album. He has been the subject of two segments on NPR and was a 2012 winner of ASCAP Foundation's Harold Adamson Lyric Award.
Radoslav Lorković is a Croatian born and classically trained folk and blues musician, known in particular for his flair on the piano and accordion. He has five solo recordings, three live albums and has recorded and performed with numerous artists including Odetta, Jimmy LaFave, Shawn Mullins, Greg Brown, Richard Shindell, Ellis Paul, Susan Werner, Ronny Cox, Dave Moore, Andy White, Bo Ramsey, and Ramsay Midwood. His thirty-five year career as a touring musician has taken him around the world, where he has performed from castles in Italy to Carnegie Hall.
The Woody Guthrie Center is a public museum and archive located in Tulsa, Oklahoma that is dedicated to the life and legacy of American folk musician and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie. The Center also contains the archives of folk singer, songwriter, and fellow social activist Phil Ochs.
Brandon Dean Jenkins was an American singer-songwriter and philanthropist. He was part of the Red Dirt music genre.