One of the many great things about the Old Town School is that the classes are so diverse. Every day of the week you can take classes in guitar styles of the Rolling Stones, taiko drumming from Japan, ancient hula, cajun fiddle, breakdancing, or join the mandolin orchestra.
So many times I have experiences with cultures coming together and I think, “Well, that can only happen at the Old Town School.”
I used to think of that a lot as I led the Thursday Night Jam in the lobby of the East Building, right underneath the staircase. As you can see in this picture, the Mary Lou Williams portrait is on the left and a screen printed Woody Guthrie poster is on the right. Two of my biggest musical influences sharing the space at the Old Town School.
And again, I would think to myself, “Only at the Old Town School are these two musicians, one a hero of the jazz age, and the other a hero of the dust bowl refugees, able to be celebrated in the same room.”
Then, my good friend, Chris Walz, Program Manager: Bluegrass, Old Time & Americana at the Old Town School of Folk Music, told me about this picture.
This is taken from the FDR Bandwagon, a group of musicians and dancers in support Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. The group, which was organized by Moe Asch, founder of Folkways Records, never really took off. But, there they are. Mary Lou Williams on the left and Woody Guthrie in the right with the guitar.
Not only at the Old Town School of Folk Music, but in real life, too.