WHAT do you know about Woody Guthrie, the American Woody before Allen, Harrelson and the Toy Story cowboy?

Maybe This Land Is Our Land and the sticker on his guitar, This Machine Kills Fascists. Maybe that he inspired Bob Dylan to move to New York to lead the Sixties’ generation of protest singers. Maybe that photo with the peaked cap and the cigarette hanging just so from his mouth. Maybe Woody’s Car Song for children. Maybe even his being struck by Huntington’s Disease.

Woody Sez tells you all that in its two halves but it tells you much more besides, especially about his house-burning mother, in tracing the pioneering and sometimes tragic life and troubadour times of the dustbowl bluesman from the Oklahoma backwoods.

Last year was Woody’s centenary, a cause to take Woody Sez into the West End with its combination of Great Depression-era songs and spoken word, narrated by Texan recording artist David Lutken, who created the show and plays the title role with an unashamed yet still understated admiration for the man and his working man’s music.

Those spoken words are excerpts from Guthrie’s articles for the leftist newspaper The People’s World and they shine a light directly on Woody and his fight for fairness, justice and equality, while elucidating the 25 songs – and how beautifully those songs are performed by Lutken, fellow American Helen Russell, Ruth Clarke-Irons from Swansea and Londoner William Wolfe-Hogan.

Not only do they harmonise exquisitely, but they play myriad folk instruments too, from fiddle to dulcimer to upright bass, as they create a concert with a conscience wrapped inside a story that resonates with our own troubled times. Woody Sez is simple and direct and deeply affecting, just like Guthrie’s songs.

Woody Sez, Harrogate Theatre, tonight at 7.30pm. Box office: 01423 502116.