Ninety years ago, on New Years Eve, a powerful thunderstorm swept through the San Gabriel Mountains. It unleashed a violent flood of water, rocks, and mud that roared down the canyons, uprooted trees, destroyed homes, swept away cars, and resulted in nearly a hundred deaths. Five years later Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the flood and performed it on his radio show on KFVD.
I rearranged and recorded the song for my album, Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles, while doing research for my book on Woody Guthrie. My work was aided by the Seaver Center for Western History Research at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Archivist Betty Uyeda compiled dramatic collection photos and newspaper headlines in a great video to provide visual accompaniment to the song. The video’s first public screening was at Glendale Public Library during the 85th anniversary of the flood.
The New Years Flood swept through the foothills and towns of the Crescenta Valley during the days of the Great Depression. Hundreds of poor people lived in rough encampments along the banks of the Los Angeles River. We will never learn the names of those who were swept away, but ninety years later, this song is dedicated to them.
More information about the album Radio Songs: Woody Guthrie in Los Angeles
More information about the book Woody Guthrie L.A.
About Darryl Holter
Darryl has recently released his new Roots & Branches album .
Darryl Holter grew up playing the guitar and singing country and rock and roll songs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a child, his early influences were Elvis and Johnny Cash, then Bob Dylan, then the folk-rock and country-rock. His current brand of Americana Music draws from country, blues and folk traditions and often tells stories about people, places and events. In 2008 he formed 213 Music and launched his first self-titled album of original songs. Two years later he released “West Bank Gone,” an album that highlighted the West Bank (of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis) music scene in the 1970s. Besides his music, Holter has worked as an academic, a labor leader, an urban revitalization planner, and an entrepreneur.