John Fullbright: Woody Guthrie Sells A Lot Of Hamburgers
John Fullbright, playing a writers-in-the-round with Jess Klein tonight at Anderson Fair, looks like the kid at the grocery store sacking groceries or gathering carts from the parking lot. The innocent look masks an old-soul singer-songwriter and one of the hottest youngsters in the folk/roots/Americana musical nation.
A regular one-man band who plays guitar, piano, accordion and harmonica, this youngster from Okemah, Okla. - yes, Woody Guthrie's hometown! - is, astonishingly, as seasoned a writer as he is performer.
Greg Johnson, longtime owner of Oklahoma City listening room Blue Door, is managing Fullbright.
"I took him to Folk Alliance and they just went nuts for him," says Johnson. "Right now I'm talking with some labels like Rounder, just looking for a record deal that works. And if we don't find one that's right, we'll just book some time in a little studio and do an album.
"It's funny, but he's got all kinds of people wanting to produce him, guys like Kevin Welch. And Jimmy Webb is one of his biggest fans."
Fullbright is the prototypical droll Oklahoman in the extreme, and seems like a guy with his head on straight.
"I just get out and play my gigs and try not to worry about the money or making some big move," says Fullbright.
Even though he is from Okemah, Fullbright didn't know much about Woody Guthrie until the last couple of years.
"Yeah, growing up if you asked any of the old men around town about Woody, it was always 'that commie red sumbitch, you know, so we really didn't talk about Woody much in Okemah.
Then the festival came along and now it's "God bless Woody" around here. He sells a lot of hamburgers and motel rooms, you know?"