Folk Music: Arlo Guthrie – Back By Popular Demand Tour
Special Guest: Sarah Guthrie
Born in Coney Island, New York in 1947, Arlo is the eldest son of Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, a professional dancer with the Martha Graham Company and founder of The Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease, and America’s most beloved singer/writer/philosopher/artist Woody Guthrie. Arlo has become an iconic figure in folk music with a distinguished and varied career spanning almost sixty years.
Growing up Guthrie, Arlo was surrounded by such renowned artists as Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, to name only a few. Not surprisingly, Arlo drew from these influences and he in turn became a delineative artist bridging generations of folk. He and Pete Seeger created a legendary collaboration that was sustained for over forty years. The last Pete & Arlo show was in November 30, 2013 at Carnegie Hall, only a few months before Pete passed away at the age of 94.
In 1965, a teenaged Guthrie performed a “friendly gesture” that proved to be fateful. Arlo was arrested for littering, leading him to be deemed “not moral enough to join the army.” Guthrie attained international attention at age 19 by recounting the true events on the album Alice’s Restaurant in 1967. The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree has become an anti-establishment anthem and an essential part of the Thanksgiving holiday season, still broadcast widely on terrestrial, internet and satellite radio. Alice’s Restaurant achieved platinum status and was made into a movie in 1969, in which Arlo played himself, by the esteemed director Arthur Penn. 1969 also brought Arlo to the rock festival of the ages – Woodstock. His appearance showcased Arlo’s hit Coming Into Los Angeles, which was included on the multi-platinum Woodstock: Music From The Original Soundtrack And More (1970).
Arlo married Jackie Hyde in October 1969, and over the following decade they had four children, all of whom have become entertainers/musicians themselves. The Guthrie Family has toured together throughout the years, most notably for the 2012 Guthrie Family Reunion Tour, honoring the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth. Jackie passed away shortly after the tour, a few days after celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary. Abe, Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee continue to work with their dad onstage or behind the scenes. They all have children of their own and together they have continued to bring The Guthrie Family shows to the stage, the most recent being 2017—their annual Thanksgiving concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City. There were thirteen family members on stage at the same time.
In 1991, inspired by his parents’ activism, Arlo bought the old Trinity Church (“the” church) that is now home to The Guthrie Center, named for his parents, Woody & Marjorie Guthrie. The Guthrie Center is a not-for-profit interfaith church foundation dedicated to providing a wide range of local and international services.
In 2004, at the beginning of the 21st century, Arlo branched out creatively writing a series of award-winning illustrated books for children. He has also maintained his interest in photography, exhibiting his works in galleries from time to time, or simply sharing through social media.
But mostly Arlo remains a road warrior, touring almost constantly, alone or with friends and family. Since the first time he performed in public in 1961 at the age of 13, and after almost 60 years of shows, Arlo Guthrie, now in his 70s, has become an American elder—a keeper of the flame.
Sarah Lee Guthrie
21stcentury third Generation American folksinger Sarah Lee Guthrie’s lineage is undeniable. But if you close your eyes and forget that her last name is synonymous with the river-legacy of a widening current of American folk music, you’d still be drawn to the clarity and soul behind her voice. There is a gentle urgency to her interpretations of the songs she sings and the classic music of her heritage. It flows from the continuity of her family, her vital artistic life today and the river of songs that have guided her to where she now
It’s been hinted at since she first stepped on the stages of Wolf Trap and Carnegie Hall as a teenager in 1993 singing Pete Seeger’s “Sailin’ Down My Golden River” for sold-out audiences. But it was later, when she met her husband, Johnny Irion, grandnephew of Woody Guthrie’s
literary kindred spirit, John Steinbeck, that she began to embrace her birthright and her inherent gifts. “Johnny taught me a few chords on the guitar and that was it… Mom talked me out of going to college and into going out on the road with Dad. I spent the next 6 years playing just about every show with him and my brother Abe, Johnny joined us in 2002 and we opened the shows til our first album came out.”
Over the last two decades on the road and in the studio, she and her husband Johnny Irion have created a signature pop-fused folk-rock sound that is appealing and engaging on series of critically-acclaimed albums Exploration, Folksong, Bright Examples and Wassiac Way.
On 2009’s Go Waggaloo she created a family album of original songs (and a few with Woody’s lyrics) that won a
Golden Medallion from The Parents’ Choice Foundation. The tour that followed in 2010, The Guthrie Family
Rides Again, brought it all together as she found herself surrounded by generations of family and friends all
celebrating the music of her family.
“Looking back on the years of shows that I have done, its been the shows with my family that stand out the most,
that feel bigger than me, the best part of me, the place I shine the most. I am back on the road with my Dad now
and remembering what I was made for, these are the songs that make us who we are and I love to sing them.”
Sarah Lee Guthrie now ventures on a road that leads back to the rich culture of her family running through the
warmth of her own bloodlines. This is rare opportunity to witness the growth of one of America’s finest young
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