Darryl Holter Music

The Darryl Holter Music Blog, an original taste of Americana music,
 drawing from country, blues and folk traditions. Darryl Holter is also a noted Archival researcher and writer on Woody Guthrie.

June 26: See Darryl Holter at POLITICON – The Unconventional Political Convention

See Darryl Holter at POLITICON  – The Unconventional Political Convention
Debates, panels, film, comedy, podcasts, art – all on the subject of politics.

Darryl presents  “Woody Guthrie Hour” at Politicon, the Unconventional Political Convention, on Sunday June 26.   In that session, Darryl will debut a new song that draws upon the Guthrie tradition to create a new song for today’s economy.  “Woody loved to write ‘answer songs’—songs that played off popular songs to create a new song with a new message,” says Darryl.  “I’m taking the Carter Family’s  old song from the ‘30s, “No Depression in Heaven”, and creating a new musical statement on today’s economy.”


Sun June 26, 2016 at 1pm: The Democracy Village Stage
Pasadena Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

Darryl talk about his new book, and Guthrie’s legacy, and perform some of Guthrie’s songs from his popular new CD, Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941.
The book, Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, edited by historians Darryl Holter and William Deverell, is an extraordinary portrait of our city and America’s troubadour in a particular time.

holter image
Read more about the book, Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941
More about Darryl Holter’s new CD, Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941


June 26th at 1pm: The Democracy Village Stage
Pasadena Convention Center
300 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

Tickets & Schedule

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Authors Darryl Holter and Greg Vandy Live Discussion Thurs June 9

DJ Greg Vandy, Author of 26 Songs in 30 Days, in Conversation with Woody Guthrie L.A. Biographer Darryl HolterTune into the continuing resonance of Woody Guthrie’s 30-day songwriting tear of 1941 with 26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest. 

Join Chevalier’s co-owner, musician and all round Guthrie-man Darryl Holter as we dig author and DJ Greg Vandy’s treasure trove of musical history on Thursday, June 9th at 7 p.m.  Signing to follow.

Thursday, June 9th at 7 p.m.
Chevalier’s Books
126 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
All the Info here

Greg Vandy has been the host of The Roadhouse on Seattle’s KEXP radio since 2000 where he brings a world of folk, blues, and roots-inspired music to listeners in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Darryl Holter is both the co-author of Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937-1941 and his album Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles, 1937-1941, was released to critical acclaim in 2015. He is a musician and singer-songwriter, a former labor leader, an urban developer, an adjunct professor of history at USC, and a member of the Professional Musicians Union Local 47 in Los Angeles. He is also the co-owner of Chevalier’s.

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Darryl Holter at Litfest Books & Authors Festival Sat June 4. LA Weekly’s Pick of the Week.

litefestThe LA Weekly’s  Pick of the Week:
Litfest Pasadena:  Saturday, June 4th, in the Pasadena Playhouse District.

Pasadena’s Free ‘Books & Authors’ Festival.
The stage is set for the fifth anniversary celebration of LitFest Pasadena, the city and Southern California’s free books and authors festival on Saturday, June 4, 2016 in Pasadena’s Playhouse District. See Darryl Holter and William Deverell speaking and performing at 4:15 at Zona Rosa Alley.

Come join a full day of FREE events beginning at 10 a.m. at Vroman’s, the Southland’s leading independent bookstore, spreading out through the afternoon and evening to storefronts, restaurants and bars in the highly walkable neighborhood, including at the legendary Pasadena Playhouse itself.

Litfest Pasadena is Saturday, June 4th, in the Pasadena Playhouse District. Join us for a full day of free events!

4:15 – Darryl Holter and William Deverell at Zona Rosa Alley
Woody Guthrie in LA
Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, edited by historians Darryl Holter and William Deverell, is an extraordinary portrait of our city and America’s troubadour in a particular time. The authors talk about his legacy, and Holter and his guitar play some of his songs.

Zona Rosa
15 S El Molino Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101

Full Litfest Schedule HERE
Litfest Facebook event page HERE
More about Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941 by Darryl Holter and William Deverell

Authors William Deverell and Darryl Holter speak with Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum Bob Santelli

Authors William Deverell and Darryl Holter speak with Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum Bob Santelli


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Guy Clark

Texas outlaw country and folk musician Guy Clark has died at 74.  In 2013, Emmylou Harris said, “It’s hard to imagine the world of music without Guy, the world of language without Guy. He really embraces the human condition. There is no judgment in Guy’s songs. … You know that everyone has been on a rough road.” Great NPR article below…

guy clark

Guy Clark, Music’s Master Craftsman, On Making Songs Last

Darryl Holter- Library Author Night with Live Music on Thurs May 19

“Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937-1941”- Free Event: Library Author Night with Live Music on Thurs May 19

An Author Night with historians Darryl Holter and Bill Deverell discussing their new book, “Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941” will be presented in the Library Community Room on Thursday,  May 19th at 7:00 p.m. The event will also feature live renditions of Guthrie songs by folksinger Joel Rafael  to open the show followed by the Woody Guthrie history presentation by Bill Deverell and Darryl Holter. To conclude, Darryl Holter, also a singer-songwriter, will offer a few more Woody Guthrie tunes.

“Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941” is the first book to thoroughly explore the legendary folksinger’s time in Los Angeles. It declares that Guthrie’s somewhat brief residence in L.A. during the later years of the Great Depression formed the basis of his strong, lasting influence on the world’s music.


Darryl Holter has written books and articles on labor history and urban revitalization. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin and taught for several years in the History Department at UCLA. Holter is an adjunct Professor in History at USC and his album. “Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles, 1937-1941”, was released to critical acclaim in 2015.

William Deverell has also written several books, He is also a professor of history and the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West at USC. Deverell has authored books on political, social, ethnic, and environmental history, including “Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past.  In “Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941”, he brings together his overlapping passions for the history of American folk music, the Great Depression, and Los Angeles.

Singer-songwriter and folk musician Joel Rafael has been performing for more than 50 years and has recorded nine albums. He has opened shows and shared stages with the likes of Crosby, Stills, and Nash;  Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, John Lee Hooker, Laura Nyro, and many more.

Darryl Holter

Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941 by Darryl Holter and William Deverell

The free event is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and Angel City Press. Special thanks to Brad Colerick/DeepMix Entertainment. The Library Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street.  Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.  No tickets or reservations are necessary, but seating is limited. Refreshments will be provided and autographed books and CDs will be available for purchase.

Thurs 5/19/2016 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
Location: South Pasadena Public Library Community Room
1115 El Centro Street
South Pasadena, California 91030
South Pasadena Public Library Details

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Darryl Holter has released of a new studio album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles 1937-1939, via 213 Music. More about the new album…

Order it Now at CDBaby

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Hear Darryl Holter and William Deverell on LARB Radio Hour

Woody Guthrie’s Years in Los Angeles by Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour featuring guests Darryl Holter and William Deverell

This week LARB discusses Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, a chronicle of Guthrie’s formative years in Los Angeles, during which he not only experimented and refined his music but also found his calling as a political songwriter. Co-authors Darryl Holter and William Deverell join to talk about Guthrie’s legacy in Los Angeles, and Holter even plays a rare Guthrie tune about the city’s 1934 New Year’s Eve flood.

Hear it here at LARB

More about Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941:

Darryl Holter, co-author of “Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941” (Angel City Press, 2016) and an adjunct professor in history at USC. He’s also a singer and songwriter. His album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles, 1937-1941, was released last year

William Deverell,  co-author of “Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941” (Angel City Press, 2016) and the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West at the University of Southern California

woody-guthrie-cover-blogThe first book to thoroughly explore the legendary folk singer’s time in Los Angeles, “Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941” details how the legendary folksinger’s stay in Los Angeles in the later years of the Great Depression forever changed his music, his politics, and his legacy.

The book’s twelve essays examine and document Guthrie’s early radio success in Los Angeles with the Woody and Lefty Lou Show; his first recordings made on old Presto disks; and the important friendship he forged with the actor and leftist radical Will Geer (later of “Grandpa Walton” fame).

Other pieces cover Guthrie’s racial egalitarianism, and the impact he still exerts in his songs about migrants and workers looking for their main chance in California. Order Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941.

Listen to Los Angeles Review of Books Radio Hour featuring guests Darryl Holter and William Deverell

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Darryl Holter has also released of a new studio album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles 1937-1939, via 213 Music. More about the new album…

Order it Now at CDBaby

Follow Darryl Holter:

Sat April 30th: Darryl Holter Signing at Book Soup & Live Music with Julia Holter

holterCelebrate Independent Bookstore Day: One Day, Two Events:
Book Soup at 1pm | Chevalier’s Books at 5pm

At 1pm: Book Signing at Book Soup
Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day with Angel City Press
Sat April 30th, 1pm

Authors Darryl Holter and William Deverell will discuss and sign “Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 TO 1941” Edited by historians Darryl Holter and William Deverell, is the product of many years’ research and close cooperation with members of Woody Guthrie’s family and estate. Lyrics Guthrie wrote about Los Angeles, many of which he never set to music, are published in this remarkable volume for the first time. Also at Book Soup on April 30: Author April Dammann will discuss and sign “Corita Kent. Art And Soul. The Biography”.

For more information on the book visit http://www.angelcitypress.com/products/guth.

Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

At 5pm: Darryl Holter & Julia Holter Live at Chevalier’s Books
Darryl & Julia will be performing songs from his new CD Radio Songs plus Julia will perform a few of her own. Sat April 30th, 5pm

Chevalier’s Books
126 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

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Rare Clip of Woody Guthrie Greenback Dollar

This is a small clip from Pete Seeger’s “To Hear Your Banjo Play”, a video from 1947. It features a rare clip of Woody Guthrie singing “Greenback Dollar” and “John Henry” with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

Darryl Holter Tangled Up in Dylan

Folkworks Review
Darryl Holter Tangled Up in Dylan
at the Caña Rum Bar – February 19, 2016

By Ross Altman, PhD

Dateline, Los Angeles~ The hottest ticket in town turned out to be in a hidden rum bar in the unknown Petroleum Building in the 700 block of Olympic Blvd downtown tonight, just a block away from the Grammy Museum. An SRO crowd (I know, because I was standing throughout) saw local folkie historian Darryl Holter—co-author of the new book Woody Guthrie LA 1937-1941 (see my review)—in a show he called Holter Does Dylan. It was also it turns out a birthday present to himself, for when I got there I saw a beautiful birthday cake in front of the stage, and Darryl was tuning up in front of the microphone.

I first met and heard Darryl twenty years ago, while performing at a labor conference at UCLA, where he was a part of the Institute for Labor Studies (which grew out of Art Carstens Institute for Industrial Relations). Professor Carstens was the father of a great woman I was friends with, and in love with—the late Betty Carstens—who became Mike Davis’ girlfriend when he organized SDS in Los Angeles—and recruited me to became president of the UCLA chapter in 1965. Carstens’ department was the voice for the labor movement in LA, and Darryl found a home there as a budding labor historian when he moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he grew up. That’s where he became acutely aware of Dylan’s music—as a fellow Minnesotan.


Darryl has a great story about meeting Dylan in Osseo, Wisconsin in 1976, where he was traveling with his eight-year old daughter Rachel. She looked into a restaurant window and reported back to her dad, “Daddy, there’s somebody pretending to be Bob Dylan sitting in the restaurant.” Darryl peeked into the window, did a double-take, and said, “Honey, he’s not pretending—that’s Bob Dylan.” He was a small man sitting with two big body guards. His companion said, “Don’t go in there—don’t bother him.” Darryl didn’t’ think twice; he walked in with his daughter and introduced her to the bard. “She knows your songs, Mr. Dylan.” Dylan looked up and asked the girl her name. “Rachel, Sir.” “That’s a pretty name.” “Do you really know my songs, Rachel?” “Oh yes, sir; we listen to them all the time.” “Which ones?” “I can sing Tangled Up in Blue.” That got his attention; he assumed it would be Blowing In the Wind. Dylan smiled as she launched into the haunting ballad from Blood On the Tracks. He could hardly believe an eight-year old would be singing Tangled Up in Blue—which she knew flawlessly. He smiled and thanked them for saying hello. The interview was over—and never to be forgotten.

Darryl is a born teacher, even when he is singing. He prepared a note sheet handout for everyone in the back room of the Caña Rum Bar in the Petroleum Building downtown—which—surprise—Holter owns. That’s how he accommodates all his guests with complimentary parking. I mentioned in my book review that I couldn’t find the building’s parking lot the first time around—where Holter held their book’s publication party last December, and wound up paying $18 (flat rate) to park across the street at the nearest public parking lot. But this time I saw the brightly lit neon sign “Caña Rum Bar” entrance and enjoyed the complimentary parking privileges of the other invited guests.

Knowing what it cost to park in this neighborhood I allowed what killed the cat to get the better of me and asked the lady parking attendant in the basement what it would cost to pay for “complimentary parking” for all of one’s guests at the bar. Before she could tally it up I then wondered aloud, “Does Darryl own the building?” “Yes,” she replied simply, and knocked me off my feet. So here we have the author of the pre-eminent Skid Row Dust Bowl folk singer’s crucial four years in LA that launched the folk revival in the ironic position of a major league property owner in the toniest neighborhood outside of Rodeo Drive. It gets curiouser and curiouser, Alice cried. For what makes this concert special is that—as opposed to every other concert in LA last night—Holter’s was the only one that did less than zero publicity. Every other show in town sent out press releases to local media, emails to various lists, handed out fliers, posted on web sites, and gave away free tickets to paper the house.

Darryl is the only concert promoter I know who deliberately told people that unless you were invited, there was no room at the inn. “By Invitation Only!” the invitations began. Here it is, as mysterious and tantalizing as a Dylan song:

By Invitation Only: Holter Does Dylan

Bob Dylan and Darryl Holter are both Minnesotans. Bob Dylan began performing his songs while he was a student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in the early 1960s. Darryl Holter heard Dylan’s songs when he was in high school and quickly learned the early Dylan discography.

Now Darryl revisits his own musical roots with a set of Dylan songs from the 1960s and ’70s that propelled Dylan to his iconic status as the singer-songwriter of the 20th century.

On Friday, February 19th Darryl will perform a solo set of Dylan songs at the Cana Club (Caña Rum Bar), the “hidden” bar located in the Petroleum Building. Cana will provide Happy Hour pricing. The event begins at 5:30pm.

Space is limited and the event is private and by invitation only. If you receive this invitation, then you have been invited.

I felt like Harry Haller in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, who receives a strange note telling him where to be. If memory serves me well (you’ll excuse the Dylan riff) that is the first and only time I have heard about a secret concert that only welcomed invited guests. Or maybe it’s just the only time I have been invited to one. I don’t have many friends; writers seldom do—and they often lose the ones they have—by telling the truth—which is probably why Mark Twain advised them to do it—but only as a last resort.

Actually, I have heard about one other such concert: Elton John did one recently for music industry insiders to introduce his upcoming album The LA Times reviewed it, so that puts Darryl (and me as the local press) in the rarified air of Elton John and the Times. There’d be days like this, my mama said; (uh, Van Morrison said that…)

The Dylan song I first heard Darryl perform at that long-ago labor conference is from The Times, They Are a-Changing: The North Country Blues. It’s still in his repertoire and was the second song in the “Holter Does Dylan” set. Dylan rarely performs it live, but it is a masterpiece of labor history, written from the point of view of a woman who has seen her entire family destroyed by the loss of mining jobs that once sustained them:

My children will go
As soon as they grow
For there ain’t nothing here now to hold them.

Darryl does it with real feeling, and it was the conviction he brought to it that got my attention when I first heard it—and inspired my lasting affection for his music that prompted my recent essay on the Woody Guthrie Prize and how I thought he deserved it.

The song grew out of Dylan’s childhood memories growing up on the northern iron range in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Holter opened the show with the song Dylan has lately been closing his shows with—Blowin’ in the Wind. Of the two, I prefer Dylan’s placement, since as his most famous it is a hard song to follow. His handout indicates that it was written “in 10 minutes in a coffee shop in NY in 1962.” That may be overstating it a little. I would say it was written in nine months and 10 minutes. The nine months would account for the time Dylan spent in the New York Public Library, doing research on the Civil War. That’s where he learned about the “cannonballs” that fly—in lieu of the bomb—which everyone else was writing about in 1962. Dylan doesn’t mention the bomb in so many words—but he evokes it by using the image “before they’re forever banned.” Even more to the point, that is where he would have come across the abolitionist song No More Auction Block; which was the source of the tune he adapted for Blowin’ in the Wind. It’s a modern classic all right, but it is grounded in a Civil War anti-slavery classic. That immersion in our genuine history—including musical history—is what raises Dylan’s song heads and shoulders above the many similar protest songs of the early sixties. His song may have been born where he finally set pen to paper in a busy coffee shop for 10 minutes, but the song was conceived in the peaceful confines of a library, far from the madding crowd.

Here is Darryl’s entire set list, including two songs he skipped over:

1) Blowing in the Wind
2) North Country Blues
3) Don’t Think Twice
4) Mr. Tambourine Man
5) It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (not performed)
6) I Want You
7) Just Like a Woman
8) Lay, Lady Lay (not performed)
9) Tangled Up in Blue

He indicated afterwards that he was having some vocal problems and so left out two songs, but I didn’t notice it. I assumed he left them out because he was reading the audience and thought it was long enough with seven songs. Good performers do that kind of thing all the time.

The most noteworthy song on the list in terms of its impact during the performance was Just Like a Woman. Darryl did a very intimate beautifully subdued version, finger-picked with just his bare fingers, and harmonica, in the key of G. What made it stand out to me were two things. He mentioned during his introduction (also included in his handout) that “the song was controversial with the emerging feminist movement…because of phrases that seemed sexist towards women.” In the context of that footnote I found it especially moving to see a lovely Asian woman beautifully dressed standing next to me in the back silently mouthing all of the words—singing softly to herself—throughout the song. How sexist could it be, I wondered, if a perfect example of its subject would take it so to heart?

Things have changed, I guess. Oh yes, Dylan said that too.

After the show I accompanied Darryl down to the parking lot, put my hand on his elbow and said, “All right, my friend, pay attention.” And there I serenaded him with the Dylan song everyone should hear for their birthday, which is actually today, February 20.

Happy Birthday, Darryl;
Thank you for a beautiful evening;
For the songs, the notes, the non-alcoholic ice water,
the chocolate cake, and the tasty quesadillas.

May you stay Forever Young.

Entire Review Here

Power of the People, Pasadena Weekly

Power of the People | Pasadena Weekly
Singer-songwriter Darryl Holter and fellow historian William Deverell discuss their new book ‘Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941’ and Holter performs at Grammy Museum Tuesday
Article by By Bliss Bowen Pasadena Weekly


Darryl Holter

Woody Guthrie’s been dead since 1967. Yet his legend still looms so large that many musicians continue to incorporate Guthrie tunes into their repertoire. (Case in point: Lucinda Williams’ haunting setting of Guthrie’s “House of Earth” on her new album “The Ghosts of Highway 20.”)

In January, Angel City Press published “Woody Guthrie L.A. 1937 to 1941,” a handsomely designed book exploring the “This Land is Your Land” composer’s LA years. Reproductions of Guthrie cartoons and previously unpublished lyrics accompany newspaper clippings, and photographs of Guthrie and Depression-era Hooverville camps. Co-edited by historians Darryl Holter and William Deverell, 12 amply footnoted essays contend that Guthrie, who arrived in LA a populist “Dust Bowl Democrat,” would not have become a pivotal influence on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello and Steve Earle if not for his experiences here.

“We have an image of Guthrie as the guy who rode the rails during the Great Depression out of the Dust Bowl, the guy who had slogans on his guitar like ‘This Machine Kills Fascists,’ the unrepentant radical, the person who was a model for Bob Dylan,” Holter observes in thoughtfully measured tones. “Guthrie’s musical development and political evolution took place during these years in LA from 1937 to 1941. Guthrie moved from being a guy who played songs on the street corner, and maybe in bars for tips now and then, to someone who had a radio show that they hosted in the morning and in the evening, five days a week; someone who began to write all of his own songs [and] developed more skills playing guitar.”

In the book, Holter analyzes songs such as “Do Re Mi,” “Fifth St. Blues,” “I’m Goin’ Back to the Farm” and “I Ain’t Got No Home” to illustrate how Guthrie’s views regarding politics, religion and music evolved in LA. Chapters chronicle encounters with characters such as actor Will Geer, author John Steinbeck and radio partner Maxine “Lefty Lou” Crissman, and connect Guthrie to modern-day Mexican corridos.

Holter, a singer-songwriter and USC adjunct professor of history, credits Guthrie’s “ability to write about things that are so relevant” for his enduring popularity with younger generations.

“He was writing about things that people were talking about … unemployment, homelessness, police harassment, flooding and what happens to homeless people. Traffic in downtown LA. They’re talking about love. They’re sometimes talking about sex. His songs were talking about the same things that we talk about today.”

Last year Holter released “Radio Songs,” comprised of material written while Guthrie hosted his KFVD show. The album features appearances by daughter Julia Holter, Sara Watkins and Ani DiFranco, and includes his setting of Guthrie’s “New Years Flood.” He’ll likely perform it at the Grammy Museum Tuesday.

“I really like how that song talked about how these folks came here to LA and settled along the river because they had to have a place to live and lived in little tents and shanties and got swept away by the LA flood. It gets into how the LA River was put in a concrete prison. It’s a story people know little about, but it’s interesting.”

Full Article Here

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