Folk N Rock
‘Plenty Of Pastures’ With Plenty of Heart – Gina Marie And The Golden Bucks Cover Woody Guthrie Classic

Woody Guthrie, a name synonymous with folk music legend, continues to inspire generations of musicians with his timeless songs. It’s always a treat to hear fresh interpretations of his work, a reminder of his enduring impact he had not only in music, but the world. Today, I’m excited to share a discovery with you, a band hailing from the Windy City of Chicago that’s breathing new life into Guthrie’s work. I’m talking about Gina Marie and the Golden Bucks, and their cover of ‘Pastures of Plenty.’

Right from the first few notes, the stark differences between the two renditions of “Pastures of Plenty” become crystal clear. This track, in particular, showcases why it’s worth investing in a pair of high-fidelity headphones. The mix is nothing short of awesome, and I would say is great example of utilizing the stereo field to create an immersive aural experience.

It opens with a shimmering, solitary guitar that seems to emanate from one ear before a steady bassline flows in in the other. This initial interplay makes for the foundation for the dynamic and detailed mix of the track, where each instrument really occupies its own space within the broader over all sound.

As the percussion kicks in, it’s undeniable that this song taps into that classic “boom-chicka” Cash drag rhythm – the kind that makes you want to tap your foot. Sure, these guys might be from Chicago, all concrete and deep dish pizza, but as someone who spent their formative years roaming the wild, rolling hills of Kentucky, right there in the heart of Appalachia – this music isn’t just a sound, it’s a way of life.

It’s the soundtrack to lazy afternoons spent fishing on the creek bank, to family gatherings on steamy summer nights, and to community fairs where everyone gets together. And what the band is bringing here is the real deal. Straight-up authenticity.

Speaking of authenticity, Gina Marie’s vocals are a pure, down-to-earth essence, and what makes them even more alluring is that warm, almost contralto quality to her voice. It’s like she’s channeling the spirit of generations past, drawing on the rich musical traditions of the region and pouring it into every note.

When she sings these lyrics of Guthrie, she inhabits them. You can feel the weight of each word, and the emotion behind it. And what really gets me is how this music connects the dots between past and present. It’s like hearing echoes of my grandparents’ old vinyl collection, but with a fresh coat of paint and a modern twist.

And her  vocal work just helps convey that so much more. The harmonies here are outstanding, come in and out of the melody, adding a touch of that bluegrass flair. Plus, I absolutely love the way she delivers a few of these lines. Her voice goes from this earthy richness, carrying the weight of tradition and storytelling, then it just transforms to this ethereal lightness on lines such as “To set on your table, your light sparkling wine.”

And throughout the song, we’re treated to some really nice fiddle work that dances around the melody, like a firefly flitting through a field of wildflowers on a summer night. It’s subtle at times, weaving in and out of the song’s fabric, but it never fails to catch your ear. Then, at other moments, it takes center stage, soaring with a high-pitched cry that adds a whole lot of personality. It’s the perfect foil for Gina’s vocals, adding a bit of rustic charm and reminding you of the song’s roots.

This version of the track stretches out a bit longer than Guthrie’s original, there’s a little instrumental interlude where the strings come in and it’s a total change. That violin that was dancing around and be playful, now has turned into a weeping willow, feeling like its branches are heavy with the weight of theses untold stories.

It’s a moment of pure magic when the instrumentation becomes a mirror for the emotions embedded in the lyrics. Right here, the strings transform into the words for the collective sorrow of generations, their haunting melodies are coming back from the past to speak of the sacrifices made in the pursuit of a better life. It’s a lament that stretches back through time, a mournful example to the hardships endured by those who came before us.

Now as we all know, Woody had his machine that killed fascists, and that instrument spoke just as loudly as his lyrics as well. But it’s always cool to see this new interpretation with other arrangements and just how much they lend their voice to the song as well.

And then the song does speak to the power of hope. This interplay of sorrow and strength is what makes this music so powerful. Music can be a powerful vessel for both joy and pain, a language that transcends words and speaks directly to the heart. And man, does this band do that so well.

In recent years, we’ve been hit with a bounty of Woody Guthrie covers, keeping his spirit alive and his words echoing through the ages. Bands like the Dropkick Murphys have even dedicated entire albums to his unreleased work, which is just one example to his enduring influence. But this cover by Gina Marie and the Golden Bucks is like a masterpiece in its own right.

This is, hands down, my favorite version of “Pastures of Plenty” ever. It’s a shining example of how modern musicians are carrying on Guthrie’s legacy, honoring his words while infusing them with their own unique flavor. There’s no higher praise I can give than to say this song is a fitting tribute to a true American legend.

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Jeff