‘Folk royalty’ among musicians at Brewer union celebration

Posted July 03, 2009, at 12:15 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — With musicians Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and Maine native Slaid Cleaves scheduled to be on stage during Saturday’s 9th annual July 4th Solidarity Celebration, organizers are preparing for a crowd.

“She’s sort of American folk royalty,” Mario Moretto, event organizer and intern at Food AND Medicine, said on Thursday. “She’s the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie, who wrote ‘This Land is Your Land’ and her father is Arlo Guthrie.”

Guthrie will hit the stage with fellow musician and husband Johnny Irion.

Cleaves, a singer-songwriter, “grew up in Maine but went away to become famous,” Moretto said.

He was raised in New Berwick but has lived in Austin, Texas, for nearly 20 years, producing a music CD about every five years.

The two musical acts are part of the festivities planned for 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Solidarity Center at 20 Ivers St. in Brewer, said Moretto, who also is co-chairman of the University of Maine Student Labor Action Project.

“We just got a 147-pound pig” for the pig roast, he said. Two organic lambs also will be roasted and union members from all over the region will participate in a chili cook-off. “We’ll have tons of food.”

The event is sponsored by the Eastern Maine Labor Council and Food AND Medicine, and all of the funds raised will help pay for the Solidarity Harvest, which puts complete Thanksgiving meals on the tables of around 150 local unemployed union workers.

“All of the proceeds will go to help laid-off workers,” Steve Husson, special projects coordinator for the labor council, said.

Brewer resident Randy Tompkins, who worked for Eastern Fine Paper Co. in South Brewer for 18½-years before the mill closed in 2004, is one person who has enjoyed a meal provided by the labor council.

“I probably wouldn’t have had a Thanksgiving Day meal” that year without the group’s generosity, he said, adding he is now giving back to the labor council by serving as a board member for Food AND Medicine.

The event also will include an appearance by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and will feature a children’s play area with face paintings. The nighttime music event will end when the Fourth of July fireworks begin.

Guthrie, Irion and Cleaves “essentially donated their services,” Jack McKay, Eastern Maine Labor Council president, said.

Moretto said the Solidarity Center, which sits on an elevated bank along the Penobscot River, is a prime location when the skies light up to celebrate Independence Day.

“It’s the best spot to view the fireworks,” Moretto said.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $2 for children younger than five and $25 for families. For more information visit www.foodandmedicine.org or call 989-5860.

nricker@bangordailynews.net

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