FARMINGTON — A performance at San Juan College offers people a chance to learn about the past through music. Aztec musicians and singers Hoyle Osborne and Jane Voss will perform "All In, Down and Out: The Great Depression in Song and Story" during a San Juan College Chautauqua series event Friday.

"A good half of them (the songs) have to do with people expressing their complaints about going through hard times," Osborne said.

He said the songs deal with unemployment and with seeing rich people carrying on with their lives without too much hardship while the poor suffered.

"It's a way of sharing your own troubles and letting people know they are not alone in these troubles," Osborne said.

Osborne said the other half of the songs are more positive and focus on how there's still joy to be found in life.

Voss and Osborne first got interested in the folk music of the Great Depression when they were teens during the 1960s, and folk music was one of the most popular genres.

It was around that time that they started listening to Woody Guthrie, a folk singer who started writing songs in the 1930s after the Dust Bowl forced his family to leave Oklahoma and move to California in search of work.

Osborne said one of the things that attracted them to the folk music was how different the stories told in folk music were from the popular rock and roll themes. In rock and roll, he said the songs tend to talk about relationships between boys and girls. In contrast, folk music often addressed themes such as the struggle for bread and butter.

The two started performing as part of the Chautauqua series around 10 years ago with a program called "I Want to Be Bad: The Flapper and Her Song," based on music from the 1920s.

Osborne said whenever they develop a program, they spend months researching the songs and history of the era.

At the end of the program, the audience has an opportunity to discuss the program and to ask questions. Voss and Osborne said every time they have presented "All In, Down and Out: The Great Depression in Song and Story," people have shared stories from their families about the Great Depression.

Osborne said sometimes when he encourages people to come to the performance, they tell him it sounds depressing. But he disagrees.

"It's one of those stories that once again proves the strength of the human spirit," Osborne said.

Voss added the songs also "demonstrate the American humor."

IF YOU GO

What: “All In, Down and Out: The Great Depression in Song and Story” by Jane Voss and Hoyle Osborne

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: San Juan College Little Theater, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington

More info: www.sanjuancollege.edu

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.