Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Guthrie Family Rides Again concert coming to Ottawa and Montreal; Arlo Guthrie – Tales of ’69; Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion – Folksong

The Guthrie Family Rides Again concert tour is coming to Ottawa (October 28) and Montreal (October 29) with Arlo Guthrie, his children and grandchildren.

Arlo, son of the legendary Woody Guthrie, has become a folk legend in his own right over the past four decades. He’s a brilliant performer and a longtime friend of Folk Roots/Folk Branches. His last concert in Montreal – December 6, 1996 – was a Folk Roots/Folk Branches presentation and he was a guest on the show twice, in 1998 and 2004, in interviews recorded during the Ottawa Folk Festival. I’ve laughed harder listening to Arlo tell stories than I ever have listening to any standup comedian.

Joining Arlo for this concert are his son, Abe Guthrie, who played keyboards with Arlo at the 1996 concert; his daughter, Cathy Guthrie, whose duo Folk Uke – with Willie Nelson’s daughter Amy – has been heard on Folk Roots/Folk Branches; his daughter and son-in-law, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, who I booked at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival back in 2001 and who have also been guests on Folk Roots/Folk Branches; his daughter, Annie Guthrie; and a bunch of fourth generation Guthries – Woody’s great-grandchildren.

I expect amazing, memorable concerts.

The Ottawa concert, a fundraiser for the Ottawa Folk Festival, is Wednesday, October 28, 8:00 pm, at the Dominion Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper Street. Call the Ottawa Folk Festival at 613-230-8234 for tickets.

The Montreal concert is Thursday, October 29, at the Outremont Theatre, 1248 Bernard West. Call Hello Darlin’ Productions at 514-524-9225 for tickets.

Arlo and Sarah Lee and Johnny have recently released concert recordings.

Tales of ‘69
Rising Son

In the summer of 1969, just before performing at Woodstock, and just before the release of the movie version of Alice’s Restaurant, an Arlo Guthrie concert was recorded and the tapes sat in Arlo’s archives for nearly 40 years. It’s a trip back to a trippy time – there are multiple instances of the word ‘groovy’ – that will be best appreciated by people my age and older who have some memory of the culture and politics and appreciate early Arlo albums like Alice’s Restaurant, Arlo, Running Down the Road and Washington County.

Some of the material is familiar. “The Unbelievable Motorcycle Tale” is a shaggy dog version of “The Motorcycle Song”; “Coming Into Los Angeles” was a Woodstock hit; and “You Would Just Drop By” later surfaced on Washington County, my favourite of Arlo’s early albums.

Then there’s a version of “Alice’s Restaurant” unlike any I’ve ever heard before that has nothing to do with picking up the garbage or sitting on the Group W bench. This version, apparently one of three that Arlo was doing back in the day, involves rainbow-coloured roaches, American, Russian and Chinese scientists and politicians and everyone getting bombed. It’s hilarious, but like I mentioned, best appreciated by those who’ll understand the cultural and political references. You kind of need to know who people like Lyndon and Hubert were.

There are also three of Arlo’s songs from that era – “If Ever I Should See the Mountain,” “Road to Everywhere” and “Hurry to Me” – that have never been released before and that have a kind of folk-raga feel to them.

Rte. 8

Folksong is a two-disc package documenting a concert that Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion did at the Tales from the Tavern concert series in Santa Ynez, California in 2008. The first disc is an audio CD and the second is a DVD with all but one of the CD’s songs and three that aren’t on the CD.

Sarah Lee and Johnny showed a lot of promise when I brought them to the Champlain Valley Folk Festival eight years ago. In the years since, they’ve matured as songwriters and have learned to blend their voices in beautiful harmonies. Sarah Lee has also inherited her father and grandfather’s storytelling talents and is utterly charming introing “Exit 49” with a with an Arlo-worthy monologue.

All but the title track were written by Sarah Lee and/or Johnny. “Folksong” is a set of Woody's lyrics, circa 1950, from the Woody Guthrie Archives in which they explain to each other how to write a folksong. In a moment best appreciated on the DVD, their young daughter, Olivia, joins them on stage to sing the chorus.

--Mike Regenstreif

1 comment:

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
    I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

    My blog