'Arlo Guthrie: The Re: Generation Tour' celebrates the spirit of the musical family
The last time American folk music icon Arlo Guthrie performed in Greensburg in 2015, his fans were treated to his nearly 20-minute rendition of “Alice's Restaurant Massacree” during his Alice's Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour.
He won't be singing the famous song at his “Arlo Guthrie: The Re: Generation Tour” concert on Oct. 20 at the Palace Theatre — although he's not ready to retire the antiwar protest anthem that defined a generation and kick-started his career.
“We'll be bringing it out again in the near future for anyone who missed it last time we were there,” he says, “but that's not this tour.”
Instead, the “Re: Generation Tour” celebrates the spirit of an American family making music together, something that Arlo's late father, folk singer Woody Guthrie — who died 50 years ago this month in October 1967 — always wanted.
Arlo's adult children, Abe Guthrie and Sarah Lee Guthrie, are joining their dad on the tour across the country through May to present music of the Guthrie Generations.
“The time was right to take out a smaller, more traditional show,” Arlo says. “The previous couple of tours had a lot of staging, lights and complex cues to make it all work together. Many places were too small to handle that kind of show, and I missed being able to perform in venues I was familiar with. This show is something we can take pretty much anywhere.
“Also, I think our crowds are hoping that there's some continuity between generations. Many grew up with my dad, and guys like Pete Seeger — so we've put together a show that does all these things.”
Sarah Lee Guthrie, who aside from this tour performs as a musical duo with her husband, Johnny Irion, is enjoying the time spent performing with her dad.
“Being able to share the stage with him — I can't convey what an honor that is,” she says. “I am completely grateful.”
Other members of the Guthrie family, including her two daughters, Olivia, 15, and Sophia, 10, and brother Abe's son Krishna, 25, and daughter Serena, 20, also performers, will join them during the holidays.
Arlo says he didn't push his children, which also include daughters Annie and Cathy, to choose musical careers, but he didn't avoid their exposure to music, either.
“I never really did anything either way,” he says. “But we're a pretty tight family, and my kids grew up on the road with me, until they were in school and had to be in one place for long periods of time. My wife, Jackie, and I did a few family tours over the years, too, where all the kids and grandkids were onstage. Those were fun. We still do those occasionally, but for the most part they're all doing their own things these days.”
His wife passed away in 2012.
As for the current tour, Arlo contends that “the biggest challenge is usually laundry, and the kids are not helpful when it comes to that.”
Sarah Lee says her dad's performances are typically fun and spontaneous.
“I'll say, ‘Dad, do you want to rehearse?' and he'll say, ‘Nah, we'll figure it out when we get there.' ”
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.