Hope Machine
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Hope Machine

Band Americana Folk


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"Hope Machine #55 on Folk DJ Chart"

Hope Machine's debut CD hit #55 on the Folk DJ radio chart! - Hudson Harding

"Hope Machine Lauds Guthrie"

July 15, 2005
Hope Machine lauds Guthrie
Trio performs an evening of folk legend’s music in Pawling tonight

By John W. Barry
Poughkeepsie Journal

A musical icon of the picket line, mentor to Beacon folk singer Pete Seeger and idolized by Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie will be lauded tonight at the Towne Crier Cafe for the songs he sang and the legacy he left.

Hope Machine, a trio featuring Todd Giudice of Newburgh, Fred Gillen Jr. of Peekskill, Westchester County, and Steve Kirkman of Patterson, Putnam County, is set to perform an evening of songs written by Guthrie.

From ‘‘This Land is Your Land,’’ sung by school children for decades, to ‘‘Hobo’s Lullaby,’’ a rolling ballad with resolute lyrics, Hope Machine will use guitar, harmonica and voice to offer its take on a man whose reach stretches from the early days of organized labor to interpretations by modern-day rockers Wilco and Billy Bragg.

‘‘We’re taking the songs and putting our own spin on them,’’ said Giudice, a graduate of Berklee Music School in Boston who has hosted open mikes at the Chthonic Clash Coffeehouse in Beacon and Cubbyhole Coffeehouse in Poughkeepsie. ‘‘I think that’s the most special thing about this group. We’re trying to be true to the songs.’’

Songs stand up through decades
Giudice said he can relate to Guthrie’s music because the folk legend — whether singing about living in a railroad box car, the dust bowl or the Great Depression — spoke of suffering and the American resolve to survive.

Guthrie was driven west from Oklahoma by the dust bowl and the Great Depression, often riding freight trains to reach California. Beyond ‘‘This Land Is Your Land,’’ he wrote songs called, ‘‘Dust Bowl Blues,’’ ‘‘Dust Bowl Refugee’’ and ‘‘Dust Can’t Kill Me.’’

‘‘Woody speaks for the underdog, the downtrodden person,’’ Giudice said. ‘‘His music resonates with me because I know that out there in the world there is that kind of suffering. It’s a part of our national history that people suffered and they came through it.’’

Hope Machine is part of a trend of musicians exploring Guthrie’s works and delivering new interpretations to new audiences.

In 1998, the alt-rock band Wilco joined with British rocker Billy Bragg to create the first of two albums that set Guthrie lyrics to new music. More recently, German musician Hans-Eckardt Wenzel released an album which set different Guthrie lyrics to original music.
Currently, bass virtuoso Rob Wasserman has been working with Ani DiFranco and Lou Reed on a recording project revolving around Guthrie journal entries.

And just this week, the folk-rock band Son Volt released a CD, ‘‘Okemah and the Melody of Riot,’’ named for the Oklahoma town Okemah, where Guthrie was born.

‘‘Fred, Todd and Steve have created a truly well-rounded performance highlighting both Woody’s songs & prose,’’ said Anna Canoni, Guthrie’s granddaughter, programs and events director of Woody Guthrie Publications Inc. and a member of the Woody Guthrie Foundation Board of Directors.

‘‘It’s an honor to see individual musicians joining together to sing and share Woody’s material. Thanks to these performers, Woody’s work is being heard by the next generation of movers and shakers and for this I’m very grateful.’’

Seeger, one of America’s legendary folk singers and songwriters, was a friend of Guthrie’s. The duo was extremely active in using music to tackle social issues and very often worked their craft in support of labor unions and workers.

‘‘Woody Guthrie was seven years older than I was and he taught me an awful lot of things,’’ Seeger said this week during a telephone interview with the Journal.

‘‘One of them was the value of simplicity. His great song, ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ put so much sense into very few words. He wrote hundreds of other good songs and I’m so glad that this group is now putting on a whole evening of his songs.’’

Giudice finds it fitting that Hope Machine will play the Towne Crier on July 15 because Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, and the seeds for this ensemble were sown at the Pawling restaurant and nightclub in November 2002.

Open mike spawned idea
Both Giudice and Gillen were playing at a Wednesday night Towne Crier open mike.
After performing, each was approached separately by Frank Matheis, a resident of Pawling who at the time hosted a radio program on WKZE (98.1 FM).

Matheis asked both to be guests on his show, appearances which set the stage for an invitation to return for a later program that featured Guthrie’s music and an appearance by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, director of the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives and president of Woody Guthrie Publications.

Giudice and Gillen, who had never before focused on playing Guthrie’s songs and hadn’t played together, performed the legend’s music as a duo. Each at the time had been playing as solo musicians.

Subsequently, Matheis staged a performance of Guthrie’s songs at a Westchester record stor - Poughkeepsie Journal


March (2006)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Ever since the beginning there's always been the guys designated to carry the coal. Remember? See, when the tribe's fire went out, when they moved on, someone had to carry the last hot coal to start up the next fire with at the next campfire. They needed this fire to cook with, sleep near, and even for some good 'ol talks and songs. Now many of these coal holders, over time, became folk singers. Later, some went electric. Some even became rock and rollers. (Hey, different tribes, different instruments.) However the job has never changed." -Nora Guthrie ................................................................................

Hope Machine is a group of coal-holders, keepers of the flame, messengers; foot-stompin', guitar-bangin', drum-beatin', song-leadin', harp- blowin', hand- clappin', human hoping machines. They started out singing the songs of Woody Guthrie. These days they sing plenty of Woody, Pete Seeger, traditional, and original songs with messages of hope, love, and spiritual transformation in celebration of the human spirit. They incorporate old-time, modern, native- American, folk, rock, and whatever other influences give strength to the spirit of their coal-holding. They encourage people to sing along, dance, yell, yodel, jump up and down, or to do whatever else their spirit moves them to do. They carry the message of human unity, hope, and spiritual freedom handed down to them by their elders. They sing songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work...