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Woody Guthrie celebrations abound

Woody Guthrie 1944 publicity photo. | AP FILE PHOTO

Woody Guthrie, 1944 publicity photo. | AP FILE PHOTO

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Updated: May 17, 2012 9:17PM

In addition to this weekend’s Woody Guthrie tribute concert, local fans will have other opportunities to celebrate the influential balladeer.

♦ Billy Bragg, who recorded the “Mermaid Avenue” albums with Chicago band Wilco — a project that spearheaded the recording of lost Guthrie songs plucked from the Woody Guthrie Archives — is touring with another nod to his posthumous collaboration. He’ll play two sets each night: one from his own considerable body of punk-folk music, and one of “Mermaid Avenue” tunes. Bragg and Wilco parted less than amiably, but one can still hope that a miraculous guest appearance will take place.
June 22-23 in the Maurer Concert Hall at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $36-$40. Call (773) 728-6000;

♦ A week later, Guthrie’s daughter Nora will be at the same venue leading the Woody Guthrie 100th Birthday Celebration, one of the official Woody 100 centennial events. Bucky Halker, Sons of the Never Wrong, Mark Dvorak, the Young Stracke All Stars and more will sing Guthrie songs and tell stories.
June 30 in the Maurer Concert Hall at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln. Tickets: $21-$25. Call (773) 728-6000;

♦ Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s famous folksinger son, and Mary Chapin Carpenter will wish “Happy 100th Birthday Woody Guthrie” in concert later this summer.
Aug. 19 at Ravinia, Green Bay and Lake-Cook in Highland Park. Tickets: $22 lawn, $55 pavilion. Call (847) 266-5100 (phone sales begin May 20);

♦ On record: A box set of the “Mermaid Avenue” sessions was recently released, including both previously available volumes of the project plus a full third disc of never-before-heard songs. Most notably, Smithsonian Folkways has released “Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection,” a 150-page book containing three CDs with 57 tracks. The music includes Woody’s most important recordings, such as the complete version of “This Land Is Your Land,” “Pretty Boy Floyd,” “Pastures of Plenty” and more, but also 21 previously unreleased performances and six never-before-heard original songs, including Woody’s first known — and recently discovered — recordings from 1937.

—Thomas Conner

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