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The program includes Tammi Brown and others performing music from Steinbeck's era as well as songs that inspired the Salinas author.

To celebrate the Santa Cruz Big Read event, a group of that area's musicians will perform a tribute rife with music that inspired and was inspired by the works of John Steinbeck.

"A Musical Celebration of the Life and Times of John Steinbeck" takes place at

2 p.m. Sunday at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. Tickets are $15 for concert general admission, $20 for concert and admission into the National Steinbeck Center.

The concert features a collection of Santa Cruz musicians — Tammi Brown, Elezar Cortes, Celina Guiterrez, Deby Benton Grosjean, the Bob Burnett Trio with vocalist Sascha Landry, Back in Time, Neal Hellman, Shiloh Hellman, Jewl Sandoval and the Martann Mann Band with Dan Robbins, Phil Smith and Olaf Shiappacasse.

Concert producer and musician Neal Hellman put the program together. He said the bands will perform a variety of music that will fit the event's theme.

'We're starting with some Woody Guthrie and Dust Bowl stuff," said Hellman, referring to the American folk singer who shared an everyman sensibility with Steinbeck. "We'll have some fiddle and do songs like 'Do Re Mi,' 'Pastures of Plenty,' and 'California Blues.'"

That will be followed up by the Mexican folk stylings of Gutierrez. Her set will be a nod to Steinbeck's appreciation for Mexican culture, evident in such work as his screenplay "Viva Zapata."

"She'll be singing some songs from the 1940s, things perhaps John Steinbeck would have heard on the radio in Salinas," Wellman said.


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Other sets include the Bob Burnett Trio's rendition of music from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical "Pipe Dream," which was based on Steinbeck's novel "Sweet Thursday," a sequel to "Cannery Row."

Back in Time will perform some jazz standards, recognizing Steinbeck's passion for the genre. Steinbeck was a friend of jazz guitarist Eddie Condon and wrote the introduction to the musician's book, "Eddy Condon's Scrapbook of Jazz."

"I wish I had somebody doing 'Tortilla B-Flat,'" said Hellman. "Eddie Condon loved Steinbeck so much he wrote that for him."

Between acts, a local actor will read excerpts from Steinbeck's work, helping guide the audience through the various musical themes.

Elizabeth Welden Smith, curator of education and programs at the Steinbeck Center, is excited to bring the out-of-town musicians to Salinas.

"It's so much fun to bring such diverse, fun music to Salinas to celebrate Steinbeck," said Smith. "It's a really fun, great mix of music. We had a musical program for the (2012 Steinbeck) Festival, so it's nice to keep that type of programming going."

Follow Marcos Cabrera on Twitter at Twitter.com/ MarcosACabrera. He can be reached at 646-4345 or mcabrera@montereyherald.com.


If you go
·What: 'A Musical Celebration of the Life and Times of John Steinbeck'
·When: 2 p.m. Sunday
·Where: National Steinbeck Center, 1 Main St., Salinas
·Information: Call 775-4721 or see Steinbeck.org