Friday, August 31, 2012

Teamster troubadour to play for Woody at Kennedy Center

Thousands of Teamsters remember Joel Rafael from his performance at the March 26, 2011 rally for workers in Los Angeles. Now this former Teamster is taking his show to an even grander venue: The Kennedy Center. On Oct. 14, he'll participate in a hootenanny celebrating Woody Guthrie's centennial along with Arlo Guthrie, Tom Morello, Ry Cooder, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.

Rafael is a longtime Guthrie aficionado. He told TeamsterNation that Guthrie is getting the recognition he deserves after being called a traitor and Communist during his lifetime:
Woody Guthrie is finally being recognized as one of America's greatest literary treasures. He was a prolific wroter, who wrote songs and letters and poems. He wrote prolifically on every subject...instead of radical, no-talent hobo... nobody's calling him that any more.
Guthrie championed unions, said Rafael, once a Teamster as a concert grunt at the San Diego Wild Animal Park ini 1985. Now Rafael is a member of the Musician's Union Local 47 and the Traveling Musician's Union Local 1000.
Woody Guthrie was a union champion. He was the original union champion. ... Somehow it doesn't matter what he's talking about, he gets the subject back to unions.
Protest music, says Rafael, is alive ... and if not well, at least it's getting stronger. The reason: widespread economic distress, which includes the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of 1936 that Guthrie sang about. Rafel recently contributed to an Occupy album (called "Occupy This Album") along with 98 other musicians. 

Rafeel and Hoffa at the 2011 LA rally.
Music can make people realize the seriousness of economic inequality, he said.
People are so busy. The style of life is so all-encompassing. There's not enough time in the day. That keeps people so busy that it's easy to not see how far off into this control by corporations we've already fallen into...They don't believe how serious it is...
Rafael wrote recently about Guthrie in Music Radar and Elmore.

He's totally stoked and thrilled to be part of the Kennedy Center tribute to Woody Guthrie.
We've been in the trenches for Woody for two decades. Now all this stuff has come to light. We were so lucky to get on this Kennedy Center show.
Rafael's new album, his eighth, came out on July 17. "America Come Home" has been called "a wonderful request to restore the American Dream." You can find out more about Joel Rafael and his music on his Facebook page here.