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The Huffington Post
One-person shows about famous historical figures seem so easy. You choose an important icon, preferably someone who said or wrote witty, insightful or just plain interesting things. Then you string together some of their best comments in a show that illuminates their life and times. If the person is an artist, all the better -- you get to include some of their artwork or quotes from novels or sing their songs. So why do they so often seem stiff and dull? Not so here. Writer and star Randy Noojin delivers one of the delights of the fest with his straight-forward, no-nonsense portrayal of singer, songwriter and activist Woody Guthrie in Hard Travelin' With Woody.
By equating the conditions of Depression-era America with those of today, writer-performer Randy Noojin invests "Hard Travelin' With Woody," his one-man show about Woody Guthrie, with topicality and urgency, rescuing it from mere homage and transforming it into a call for united action against the greed and selfishness of the rich.
Clad in work boots, plainclothes, and a soft fedora with a guitar slung over his shoulder, Noojin as Guthrie engages the audience immediately in Hard Travelin’ with Woody with two rules: 1. It’s never a sin to say “Amen,” and 2. It’s never wrong to sing along. Those familiar with Guthrie’s legacy will be entranced, and those unfamiliar will receive a timely and transportive lesson in not only American folk music but also politics and socioeconomics.
In 1962, Bob Dylan recorded his “Song to Woody.” It was one of the few original tracks on Dylan’s debut and it stated, rather straightforwardly, “Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song.” That line kept running through my head after seeing Randy Noojin’s solo show, Hard Travelin’ With Woody where I could see Noojin, who wrote and performed the piece, saying with equal straightforwardness, “Hey, hey, Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a play,” before launching into his adept performance of this engaging, pleasing play.
Times Free Press
Woody Guthrie was late to the soup kitchen Monday morning for his Labor Day concert.
“Freight trains ain’t reliable,’’ he told the crowd of 100 hobos.
“I know that’s right,’’ one of them answered back.
Guthrie, born 100 years ago, played songs and told stories for more than an hour yesterday before a clapping Chattanooga Community Kitchen crowd. Wearing a worn hat, workman’s shirt, blue jeans, brown boots with a guitar slung over one shoulder and a canvas bag (Workers Unite! in red letters) over the other, Guthrie boot-clomped in about five minutes late ... all part of the act.
And after listening to the show, I realized Guthrie’s not late at all.
He’s actually right on time.
If "Beatlemania" aimed to re-create the Fab Four in concert, writer-performer Randy Noojin does something similar (and, to my mind, far more meaningful) with Woody Guthrie, the folk singer and patron saint of the working man who brought his restless, down-home brand of knowing humor and morale-boosting to union halls across the country.
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