Monday, February 21, 2011

Arlo Guthrie celebrates 50 years of performances

Early in 1961, 13-year-old Arlo Guthrie went to see legendary folksinger Cisco Houston at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village. It was one of Cisco’s final performances before he died of cancer in April 1961 at the age of 42.

Cisco was a close friend and frequent collaborator of Woody Guthrie, Arlo’s father.

Arlo recalls: “Halfway through the show Cisco said, ‘Arlo, why don’t you come up and sing a few songs?’ I froze — like a deer in the headlights! I couldn’t breathe but somehow I got through it.”

“You are never doing that again,” Arlo promised himself.

Of course, he’s done it again, thousands of times over the past 50 years. Just a few years later, Arlo hit it with “Alice’s Restaurant” and the rest was history. Today, he is one of the most beloved of all contemporary folksingers and one of the most entertaining performers to ever take a stage.

Arlo has been a good friend to Folk Roots/Folk Branches over the years. In 1996, he returned to Montreal for the first time since the 1970s to perform in a Folk Roots/Folk Branches concert, and he was twice a guest on the radio show, in 1998 and 2004.

Congratulations to Arlo on his golden anniversary as a performing folksinger. Here’s to many more years on stage.

Pictured: Arlo Guthrie and Mike Regenstreif backstage at Arlo's Folk Roots/Folk Branches concert at the Concordia Concert Hall on December 6, 1996.

--Mike Regenstreif


  1. Am I misinterpreting that? Arlo played
    Place des Arts in December of 1985 (unless
    it was a year later), with Pete Seeger. I'm
    assuming Sam Gesser was responsible.

    I've seen him all three times he's come to
    Montreal since the seventies, and oddly, the
    show at the Concordia Concert Hall was the one
    where we saw the most of him. I seem to recall
    Abe was part of the backup band, but Arlo
    wasn't sharing the stage.

    When he was here in October of 2009, he
    was a few years older than Pete Seeger when
    I saw the latter for the first time, in 1978.
    Pete seemed "old" at that time, Arlo doesn't,
    but then he's only 12 years older than I
    am. Watching Arlo and his children and
    grandchildren in 2009, he seemed content to be
    the elder of the family, sit back and let the
    younger ones have a chance. I also realized
    he had something Woody never had, a chance to
    see the kids grow up.


  2. I guess I forgot about the 1985 show -- but I'm sure I must have been there.

    Abe was the whole band at the Concordia Concert Hall. I'm not sure what you mean by Arlo not sharing the stage. Abe was right next to him.

    I'm now older than Pete Seeger was when I stage managed his concert at the 1974 Mariposa Folk Festival.