There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Larry Long may be a troubadour (his business card says so), but he has a very strong sense of place. In his current incarnation, Long is using a musically based process to bring entire towns together. His “Celebration of Community and Place” begins with putting town elders together with the schoolchildren—stories are told and memories are etched. The kids cook up songs based on the received folklore and perform for the townsfolk. (Think of it as Prairie Home Companion without the smirk.) Longstanding barriers between races and generations tend to shrink when Long puts a soundtrack to a town’s legacy. He used the approach to make a tribute to his hero Woody Guthrie in Woody’s hometown of Okemah, Okla. and was promptly invited to communities in rural Alabama to work the same magic. In between all the community building, Long has made seven stellar records powered by a voice so drop-dead gorgeous it will knock you on your ass. He now resides on Smithsonian’s Folkways label, which has released Hear I Stand: Elder’s Wisdom, Children’s Song to codify Long’s ability to bring big things out of little people. You can hear the sound of generational knitting this Friday at the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival when Long takes to the Mall with the children of Packers Bend and Good Springs, Al. With fellow Folkways recording artist Ella Jenkins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 26, in front of the Smithsonian Castle. Free. (202) 357-2700. (David Carr)