If I could have a quarter for everyone who came to America inspired by Woody Guthrie's words & music, and another from everyone who came to Southern California inspired by Brian Wilson's music...you get the idea!
Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to create an album package (above) for an amazing group of versatile and talented musicians called The Klezmatics.
I had the pleasure to work with Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter (yup, Arlo's sister...which reminds me, let's add another quarter for everyone who went to Alice's Restaurant from hearing & seeing Arlo!) Nora found a treasure trove of lost 1940's & 50's lyrics written by her father in a storage trunk. The words where all inspired by Woody's love of his family and his unique surroundings from the time they lived in Coney Island (a famous beach town in Brooklyn, N.Y.) The title of the album, Wonder Wheel, is named after the gargantuan ferris wheel in the amusement park. Nora ran into one of the band members of the Klezmatics at a concert, and the result of that meeting is this amazing CD, which I am proud to say, just won a 2007 Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary World Music Album"
It was truly an honor to work on this one.
It shot me straight back to Kindergarten, when an old folk singer gave us a concert in our auditorium at Carthay Center School. On that amazing 1965 afternoon, "This Land Is Your Land" was spiritually implanted into my being, and I still feel a sort of warm safety whenever I hear it.
Nora gave me full access to her family's photo archives and her father's own hand-written lyric sheets. Talk about American musical history! The Klezmatics' manager Dan Efram found a perfect folk-artist named Steve Keene who did the cover painting (actually it's a mix of 4 different paintings...but that's where I come in!) and interior paintings of Coney Island. The archival photos were mind-blowing. For Woody's fans, there are many rare/unseen shots in the booklet. I actually wanted the outer cover to be a 3-D digipac with the frame around the painting and the brush strokes raised up with embossing to look like an actual hand-painted piece of art. Who knows, there may have been 2 Grammys won, but the budget wasn't there and I have no control over that aspect of the business. That said, I'm still very proud of it, and very artistically fulfilled to have "worked" with the great Woody Guthrie!
Congratulations to Nora, The Klezmatics, their manager Dan Efram, and JMG's David McClees.