(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – In what has fast become a Pittsfield Thanksgiving tradition, Arlo Guthrie brings his “Guthrie Family Rides Again” tour to the Colonial Theatre on Saturday, November 19, 2011, at 8pm. Including songs by Arlo’s father, Woody Guthrie, the concert will span four generations of the Guthrie family performing songs they’ve written, learned together and come to love. The ensemble will also perform Woody Guthrie lyrics put to new music by the Guthries and other songwriters.
“I’ve got four children and seven grandchildren with me and we’re concentrating on two things,” says Guthrie. “First we’re performing family originals – songs that my children Sarah Lee, Cathy and Annie and my son Abe and son-in-law Johnny Irion have written. We’re also doing new material that my dad wrote. He wrote lyrics, but my dad could not write music, so if he had tunes for these words, they went with him when he left us. And so over the last 15 years some other musicians like Billy Bragg and Wilco, Janis Ian and the Native American group Blackfire have brought these songs to life. I’ve written music for this material, too, but I’ve been doing it forever. This tour we’re trying to introduce it to people that haven’t heard it before.”
Arlo Guthrie is the eldest son of America’s most beloved singer-writer-philosopher, Woody Guthrie, and Marjorie Mazia Guthrie. His mother was a professional dancer with the Martha Graham Company and founder of The Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease. He grew up surrounded by dancers and musicians: Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays (The Weavers), Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, all of whom were significant influences on Arlo’s musical career.
Arlo gave his first public performance at age 13 and quickly became involved in the music that was shaping the world during the 1960s. Arlo practically lived in the most famous venues of the “Folk Boom” era. In New York City he hung out at Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight and The Bitter End. In Boston it was Club 47 and in Philadelphia he made places like The 2nd Fret and The Main Point his home.
Arlo witnessed the transition from an earlier generation of ballad singers like Richard Dyer-Bennet and blues-men like Mississippi John Hurt, to a new era of singer-song writers such as Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. He grooved with the beat poets like Allen Ginsburg and Lord Buckley, and picked with players like Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. He learned something from everyone and developed his own style, becoming a distinctive, expressive voice in a crowded community of singer-songwriters and political-social commentators.
Arlo Guthrie’s career exploded in 1967 with the release of his album, Alice’s Restaurant, whose title song premiered at the Newport Folk Festival and helped foster a new commitment to social consciousness and activism among the ’60s generation. Arlo went on to star in the 1969 Hollywood film version of Alice’s Restaurant, directed by Arthur Penn.
Though Arlo’s definitive rendition of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans” may have been his only ‘hit’ song in the traditional sense, he has never the less achieved international stature. The 18 minute “Alice’s Restaurant,” while too long for radio airplay, has become an American classic. The song “Coming into Los Angeles,” though banned from many radio stations when first released, had become a favorite by the time he played it at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and it remains a favorite today.
Over the last four decades Arlo has toured throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia winning a broad and dedicated following. In addition to being an accomplished musician playing the piano, six and twelve-string guitar, harmonica and a dozen other instruments. Arlo is a natural-born storyteller whose hilarious tales and anecdotes are woven seamlessly into his performances.
Guthrie’s undertakings include community projects as well as artistic pursuits. In 1991, Arlo purchased the old Trinity Church, the very location where events took place on Thanksgiving 1965 that inspired Arlo to write the song “Alice’s Restaurant.” The church is home to The Guthrie Center, named for his parents, and The Guthrie Foundation.
Arlo Guthrie was born with a guitar in one hand and a harmonica in the other. The eldest son of America’s most beloved singer/writer Woody Guthrie, Arlo has made sure to pass on this passion for music to all the generations of Guthries that came after. Arlo Guthrie carries on the Guthrie Family legacy as he travels to communities far and wide sharing timeless stories and unforgettable classic tunes. A celebrated artist in American music, his artistic ventures help bridge an often-divided world through his powerful spirit of song. With songs like “Alice’s Restaurant,” “Coming into Los Angeles,” and “City of New Orleans,” Arlo’s own music has resounded throughout the years.
The Guthrie Family Rides Again brings his singular voice as both a singer-songwriter and social commentator to the stage alongside his children and grandchildren. This family concert includes Arlo’s son, Abe, who has contributed keyboards and backing vocals to his father’s live shows since the 1980s. His daughters Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee Guthrie, all of who have their own bustling music careers, will support by singing songs and accompanying on acoustic guitars. Even the youngest generation of Guthrie kids will join in the fun on select songs.
To commemorate Arlo and his family’s imprint on American culture and ongoing social and musical influence, the Guthrie Family was featured in Vanity Fair in November 2007, as part of the “Music Portfolio Series on Folk Legends,” a series featuring leaders in different musical genres. A legendary American folk music pioneer, Arlo Guthrie perseveres through the times leaving a lasting impression of hope and inspiration.
Tickets for the Guthrie concert are $15–$55 and VIP tickets are $65 (premium seating). Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at Colonial Theatre. The Ticket Office is open Monday–Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until intermission.