Local singer-songwriter, Tony Norris, partnered with The Steinbeck Center for the 75th anniversary of the Grapes of Wrath on the The Grapes of Wrath Journey across America. On their stop in Flagstaff on October 11, 2013, Tony developed a program called Hard Times on the Mother Road: Hard Scrabble Stories in Song and Drama of song and spoken word, including readings from Steinbeck’s work and journals.  Tony worked with Kathleen McGeever and Season Ellison from NAU on set design, script and program direction. Sid Hausman and the Dirty Thirties performed with Tony on stage.

The National Steinbeck Center retraced the journey that The Grapes of Wrath’s Joad family took along America’s Route 66 through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona at the height of the Dust Bowl—toward California and their hopes of a better life. The trip, from October 4-14, 2013, was led by artists, writers, musicians and others who were actively engaged in exploring the human experience of struggle and resilience—each charged with creating new work inspired by the journey.

Through the songs of Woody Guthrie, with themes of struggle and irrepressible hope, the audience was invited to experience the power of John Steinbeck’s words through stark snapshots of The Grapes of Wrath as well as excerpts from his journal brought to life.

This trio is deserving of recognition for bringing the words of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath to life in Flagstaff during this unique multi-city program.  The program and performance provided Flagstaff with an experience that will not be forgotten.

Link to video of the final song in the Hard Times on the Mother Road performance

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