Voices From the Dust Bowl

For farmers hoping to escape the ravaged and barren heartland in the wake of the Great Depression, California was often seen as a veritable promised land. However, for the millions who travelled there to find work, that fantasy was short lived. Even in cases where an entire family was working, wages were often not high enough for them to support themselves.

In an effort to improve poor sanitation conditions and relieve stress on local infrastructures, the federal government established labor camps to house these migrant workers. These camps not only helped to improve the day to day lives of the workers; they also provided them an opportunity to rekindle their sense of community and, because of the diverse backgrounds of the inhabitants, became unique intersections for cultural exchange.

5HE presents Voices from the Dust Bowl by Steven Snowden as part of a concert collaboration with the Chicago-based bluegrass band Henhouse Prowlers supported by New Music USA. Alongside works by living American composers, we explore some original arrangements of classic Woody Guthrie songs and forgotten melodies from the Alan Lomax Archive and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. To highlight the lasting impact of this pivotal period in American history, we partner with Interfaith Worker Justice, which has been organizing, educating and advocating for worker rights since 1996. Stories from their 27 centers nationwide will share the stage with the voices of migrant workers from the Dust Bowl era captured in Snowden’s new work.

Past Performances

Voices from the Dust Bowl at Old Town School of Folk Music
Sunday, May 1, 2016, 3:00pm
Old Town School of Folk Music
4544 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
$25 General Admission, $23 Members

Voices from the Dust Bowl at Constellation
Sunday, May 8, 2016, 8:30pm
3111 N Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618
$15 General Admission, $10 Student

Voices from the Dust Bowl at Concordia University Ann Arbor
Friday, March 3, 2017, 8:00pm
Concordia University Ann Arbor
4090 Geddes Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
$15 General Admission, $8 Students

Voices from the Dust Bowl at Steppenwolf Theatre
Sunday, March 5, 2017, 2:00pm
Steppenwolf Theatre
1700 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60614
$20 General Admission, $15 Students

Voices from the Dust Bowl was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Land Trusts, Anonymous