By January 2, 2018 Read More →

AuthorView The Record

By Andrew Durr

Migrant Mother: The Record
In early December, 2016, I received a call from Jack Souza, Artistic Director of the Prospect Theater Project, about acting, singing, and playing guitar in the second run of Ken White’s Migrant Mother. Swayed by my own need to get out and perform, as I had not done that in many years, I anxiously agreed to take the part of Doc Guitar.

The task of being Doc meant learning nine, ten or maybe twelve songs in about five weeks. As I heard some of these 1920s pop, not-so-chart-topping “hits,” it seemed each had an uncovered truth I hadn’t known without the context of Ken’s composition. As his words came off the page and onto the stage, the songs started to present their depths. Even the songs that had grown tired since the revival of Dust Bowl and Depression-era music, found their way into some new understanding, not only for me, but for the cast and crew, as well as audience member, Don Setaro: studio engineer, producer, live sound wizard, and all-around music enthusiast.

By the final show, we had made the bond that art makes in collaboration. We were all saddened to see the show end, as must they all. But Migrant Mother would live on, so I was about to find out. Don caught the final performance of the Prospect Theater run and approached me after the curtain call about making a record of the music within the play.

Jack’s openness to the new arrangements is really what gave the songs the ability to transform. Learning songs of a particular style is fine, but the songs selected by Ken have now been allowed to become what I hoped the audience might have heard while I was banging away alone on my dad’s old Gibson. They’re not like what you may have heard before, but they play true to their origin. The songs of Migrant Mother are now archived in their full expression, and will soon be available to add to your collection.

This project has been a labor of love, from the first keystroke on Ken’s computer to the fading notes of its soundtrack. It has been a journey that reconnected me with my hometown, my family, the vast extended network of loved ones in the theater, and music communities of the Central Valley. It reminded me of how close we all really are. It connects what it means to know Truth, and questions that we do. And, like everything in life, it cannot have been done alone.

Time Frame: Songs from the Play Migrant Mother is not only a stand-alone record, it is an ascending “Thank You” to Dorothea Lange for stopping, for seeing truly, and for helping us all see more clearly. Thank you Florence, for harboring the pain and helplessness a nation was dying to exclaim. Thank you to those continuing to help the poor and displaced, discarded, and dirty faces of the world. Thank you for supporting an open dialogue for progress. Thank you for creating, supporting, and ingesting art. May we always have our brushes to and elevate the downtrodden, wherever they may be.

We have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to complete the project. For more details, please visit
All contributions to this project are tax deductible. A portion of the funds raised will benefit the Prospect Theater Project. A CD Release Party is tentatively scheduled for March 31st at the Prospect. I sincerely hope you can be a part of bringing these timeless and timely songs to life.



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