Keep Hoping Machine Running: Songs of Woody Guthrie

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On July 31, 2012, Spare the Rock Records released Keep Hoping Machine Running: Songs of Woody Guthrie, a digital-only compilation featuring new performances of classic Guthrie songs from artists including Caspar Babypants, the Okee Dokee Brothers, Little Miss Ann, Brady RymerChristina MarrsDog on Fleas, Frances England, and many more.

The new album, whose title is drawn from Woody’s list of New Year’s resolutions for 1942, is timed to honor what would have been his 100th birthday, and arrives in the midst of a yearlong celebration that also includes the all-star New Multitudes project, a deluxe box set, and a CD of Guthrie covers by Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell.

Keep Hoping Machine Running represents the third release for Spare the Rock Records, following 2010’s Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti and Science Fair, released on July 3. Like both of those earlier releases, Hoping will benefit a good cause: 100 percent of the net proceeds from sales will go toward the Woody Guthrie Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the care and administration of the Woody Guthrie Archives.

More than 40 years after his death, Guthrie’s presence continues to be felt in American music — not only through his influence on the work of countless artists who followed in his steps, but through the way his songs have been so thoroughly absorbed by generations of listeners. Simple, powerful, strong, defiant, tender, and funny, Guthrie’s anthems of American living remain as rich and vibrant today as they were when he wrote them.

The timeless power of Guthrie’s music is reflected in the story behind Keep Hoping Machine Running, which was hatched in a spur-of-the-moment meeting between executive producers Bill Childs and Dadnabbit and Popdose‘s Jeff Giles; the project was conceived on a Saturday afternoon, and by Monday morning, artists were already calling dibs on songs and sending in recordings for the album.

In the spirit of Guthrie’s doggedly prolific work ethic and beautifully simple aesthetic, artists were told to keep their performances as natural — and to record them in as few takes — as possible. (As Dean Jones of Dog on Fleas put it in a letter of advice, “Laugh and make mistakes.”) The result is a collection that demonstrates the continued relevance of Guthrie’s work while preserving some of its inimitable spirit.

Keep Hoping Machine Running will be available in digital form at all your favorite online retailers.


  1. David Wilcox – 1927 Talking Dustbowl Blues
  2. Tito Uquillas – Chisholm Trail
  3. Fiona Fraser-Gross – Union Maid
  4. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Do Re Mi
  5. Frances England – Bling Blang
  6. Brady Rymer – Mail Myself To You
  7. Christina Marrs – Ramblin’ Round
  8. Henning Ohlenbusch – Little Black Train
  9. Oran Etkin and Timbalooloo – John Henry
  10. Dog on Fleas featuring Miss Rene Bailey – This Land Is Your Land
  11. Little Miss Ann – Swimmy Swim
  12. Caspar Babypants – Grassy Grass Grass
  13. Matthew Ryan – Little Darling
  14. Rachel Loshak – Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  15. Sandra Velasquez – Deportee
  16. Deedle Deedle Dees featuring Roy Nathanson – Mean Talkin’ Blues
  17. Papa Crow – Along in the Sun and Rain
  18. Ratboy Jr. – Why Oh Why
  19. Charlie Hope – Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin’)
  20. Alastair Moock – So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh