Song writer, his “fascist killer” and dam history celebrated this Saturday

May 28 is now officially Woody Guthrie Day in the state of Washington, and a large celebration of the musician and his works will take place at the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center on that date.

The event will include performances from 12 different artists, as well as discussions from experts, including author Greg Vandy, who wrote the book “26 Songs in 30 Days” about Guthrie’s legendary place in Americana culture and Grand Coulee Dam history.

The event will also include screenings of films, including the stolen film “The Columbia,” a film by Elmer Buehler, who happened to be the man chosen to drive Guthrie around the Pacific Northwest as he penned songs for The Bonneville Power Administration. Buehler was ordered by the BPA in the 1950s to burn all copies of the film, but he squirreled away a copy and didn’t tell a soul about it until the 70s,

Woody Guthrie said his guitar was a fascist killer. Photo by New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer Al Aumuller.
Woody Guthrie said his guitar was a fascist killer.
Photo by New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer Al Aumuller.

thus preserving a piece of Guthrie and Grand Coulee Dam history.

Woody Guthrie, having experienced firsthand the hardships of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, wrote many songs in the folk-music tradition that captured the experiences. His Dust Bowl ballads from 1940 painted a bleak picture of hard times and farms ruined by dust, people losing their livelihoods.

In 1941, Guthrie was overcome with joy and optimism about the BPA projects and he penned the Columbia River songs, writing 26 in 30 days.

Vandy asserts that these songs were a bright answer and catharsis after the darkness of the Dust Bowl ballads. The dam projects represented optimism for working class Americans who were going through hard times — a light at the end of the Depression tunnel and an oasis of water which must have looked beautiful to Guthrie, who had been ravaged by dust himself.

Vandy explains that Americans in the Depression, despite a lack of material wealth, took pride and solace in the mass of cultural wealth found in our music, our literature, our films, and in every corner of the country, in every home and business on every street, dirty or paved. Woody, according to Vandy, “embodied the classic depression era folk singer” and that’s why the state is honoring him with his own holiday.

Said Governor Jay Inslee in his proclamation of the holiday, “Guthrie is the pre-eminent American folk icon and his Columbia River Songs are a part of our rich cultural history; it’s time for a meaningful recognition of his poetic accomplishments on the 75th anniversary of his Pacific Northwest songs. … I urge all people in our state to join me in the celebration of Woody Guthrie’s work.”

People attending are encouraged to bring their own picnics and blankets to the event.

Speaker Schedule

· 2:00 to 3:30 p.m .: Michael Madjic of University of Oregon: Roll On, Columbia screening and discussion with Greg Vandy

· 3:45 to 4:45 p.m .: Deana McCloud of Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa: “Woody Guthrie, Man of the People” discussion with Greg Vandy

· 5:00 to 6:00 p.m .: Libby Burke of BPA Library: Stephen B. Kahn and the BPA Motion Picture Division: “Get me a Folksinger!” with a screening of “The Columbia: America’s Greatest Power Stream”

· 6:30 to 7:30 p.m .: Bill Murlin and Joe Seamons: “The Lost Guthrie BPA Recordings”

· 7:45 to 9:00 p.m .: Greg Vandy: “26 Songs in 30 Days: Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs and the Planned Promised Land in the Pacific Northwest” book reading and discussion

Performer Schedule

1:30 p.m .: Bill Murlin

2:10 p.m .: Annie Ford

2:50 p.m .: Mike Giacolino

3:30 p.m .: Planes on Paper

4:10 p.m .: Country Dave Harmonson

4:50 p.m .: Smokey Brights

5:30 p.m .: John Pontrellow

6:10 p.m .: Michael Wohl

6:50 p.m .: Aaron Semer

7:30 p.m .: The Foghorns

8:10 p.m .: Jacob Miller & the Bridge City Crooners

8:45 p.m .: Joe Seamons & Ben Hunter

20 bands playing rhythm and blues festival at Sunbanks Lake Resort

The stage at Sunbanks during the blues festival.
The stage at Sunbanks during the blues festival.

It’s blues time at Sunbanks Lake Resort on the shores of Banks Lake in Electric City.
Sunbanks has won the state Blues award for the past two years running and this year attracts bands and musicians from all over the country.
On Saturday, award-winning blues musician Matt Andersen is scheduled for the stage with his band, the “Bona Fide.’

His new album, “Honest Man,” debuted at number five on the sales charts in Canada, from where he originally hails. Andersen has toured the world, sharing the stage with such legends as Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, and Greg Allman, among others.

Headlining the four-day event is James Harman’s Bamboo Porch Revue. The Delgado Brothers are back and Hamilton Loomis, Casey Miller & the Barnyard Stompers, Matt Andersen & the Bona Fide, Karen Lovely Band, Ken De-Rouchie Band, Selwyn Birchwood, Twang Junkies with Bob Hill, and Billy Stoops and the Dirt Angels are all scheduled to make appearances during the festival.
Other bands and performers include Acoustic Noise, James Coates, Shoot Jake, Forest Beutel, Adam Hendricks, Franco & the Stingers, Stacy Jones Band, Trevalyan Triangle, Sara Brown Band and the Vaughn Jensen Band fill out the list.

Harmon hails out of Anniston, Alabama and started performing in 1962. He has performed in 28 countries and has built up a massive song catalog.
Another headliner, Hamilton Loomis, is out of Texas and performs all over the country.

Flip through our new 2016 visitor guide

The Grand Coulee
The Grand Coulee, itself, graces the cover of our visitors’ guide this year.

When you get to the area, pickup one of our Grand Coulee Dam Area Visitors Guides anywhere for a comprehensive guide to all things in the coulee.
Until you get here, feel free to click on the image above to flip through the digital version of it.

Laser Light Show starts nightly on May 28

laser show


Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center Begins Laser Light Show May 28

GRAND COULEE, Washington – On May 28, Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center will begin its extended summer season hours, along with its Laser Light Show which plays nightly through the end of September.

Visitor Center hours will be from 8:30 a.m. until one hour past the start of the Laser Light Show. Through the end of July, the show will begin at 10 p.m. For August, the show begins at 9:30 p.m. and for September, 8:30 p.m.

May 28 will also begin an increase in the number of public tours into the John W. Keys III Pump-Generating Plant. These one hour tours occur daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visitors will ride a shuttle bus to the pumping plant to view gigantic pumps lifting water from Lake Roosevelt to Banks Lake, which then delivers water throughout the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. The shuttle will then take visitors across the top of Grand Coulee Dam for spectacular views of Lake Roosevelt and the Columbia River.

Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations are taken and space is limited.

For more information call the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center at (509) 633-9265. Or visit:

Northrup Canyon invites you

A spring hike up Northrup Canyon puts you in the midst of a thriving environment between coulee walls.
A spring hike up Northrup Canyon puts you in the midst of a thriving environment between coulee walls.

Soon, Northrup Canyon will be full of green. If you like a nice hike, this one is recommended.

It’s a great place to shake off winter and welcome spring. A creek runs through part of it, and a blue sky gives a beautiful contrast to the basalt coulee walls that rise up closely on either side.

Don’t forget to take water. It can be a three- to four-hour hike, or more, depending on how far you want to go.

An old homestead of the Northrup family sits at at nice turnaround spot at the top of the canyon. But you can go further, up a rough trail to a small hidden lake.

A restroom and information kiosk sits near gate at the beginning of the trail, but there no facilities past that. As a part of the state park system, a Discover Pass is required to visit. The most convenient place to get one is at Coulee Playland in Electric City.


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