Arlo Guthrie didn’t choose his name, but the heir to one of the great legacies in American music and culture has certainly earned it. A master songwriter, a social commentator and activist and storyteller who has some pretty choice stories to tell, Guthrie is practically synonymous with American and, through own ingenuity and tireless imagination, is responsible for connecting the politically aware folk of his father and Pete Seeger with the political and musical foment of the ’60s.
Guthrie was born in Brooklyn’s Coney Island in 1947: the eldest son of America’s most beloved singer/writer/philosopher Woody Guthrie and Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, 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, the Weavers, Leadbelly, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee – all of whom were significant influences on his musical career. Early into adulthood, he inherited his father’s friend Pete Seeger, and the two toured together – between demonstrations – beginning in the late ‘60’s. They continued doing over a dozen shows together almost every year for the next 40, a legendary collaboration that culminated in a final performance in November 2013 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Guthrie has been called a no-hit wonder, an artist of international prominence who has never had a hit song in the usual sense. His best-known song, “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” is far too long for radio, and many of his other most-loved songs were too politically inflammatory. Perhaps in the long run, the lack of conventional industry success has helped Guthrie sustain his career and his relevance.
Folk music icon Arlo Guthrie performs at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie on Sunday, November 16 at 7 p.m., his first appearance at this venue in over 20 years. Tickets cost $65 for Golden Circle seating, $50 general admission, $45 for members and are available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2027; the Ulster Performing Arts Center box office at 601 Broadway in Kingston, (845) 339-6088; and via TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
Arlo Guthrie, Sunday, November 16, 7 p.m.; $65/$50/$45, Bardavon, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie.