rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 10/12/2007
Arlo Guthrie - A Living Legend of Folk Music at the Coronado
by Gary Hill

Arlo Guthrie has become a true legend of folk music since his debut in 1961 and he will be gracing the stage at the Coronado Performing Arts Center on October 20th. His ascendancy to folk god status was in some ways a given. His father was Woody Guthrie, who was one of the most influential folk singers of his time. While perhaps Woody Guthrie’s legacy in terms of his importance to the genre is unbreakable, his son has certainly achieved a more wide ranging popularity.

One needs look no further than the title of his current tour to get a taste of one of the charms of Arlo Guthrie – his sense of humor. Who else would call a solo tour, “Solo Reunion Tour – Together at Last?” That comedic sense has certainly been one of the things that has endeared him to fans worldwide. Of course, the epic anti-Vietnam war piece “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” didn’t hurt either. At a time when people were getting fed up with a seemingly useless and unending war, Guthrie’s tongue-in-cheek masterpiece managed to capture the spirit of a generation showcasing the dissatisfaction with the war, but doing so in a way that made it a personal exploration and managed to evoke laughter about a topic that had so many people saddened and enraged. That’s the mark of a real story teller.

Indeed, story telling is a big part of folk music, and certainly a big part of Guthrie’s appeal. That aforementioned track (from his debut disc) was over 18 minutes in length and the bulk was devoted to a long tale of an incident involving a trash dump being closed on Thanksgiving and the ensuing legal problems that eventually tied into the draft and the war. Guthrie managed to captivate his audience with a genuine sense of the absurdity of life. Anyone whose ever heard the song will think of it every Thanksgiving. And who can forget the “27 8 by 10’s with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back explaining how each one was going to be used against us?” If you are scratching your head right now, do yourself a favor and rush over to your favorite online music outlet and buy a CD with it, or jump over to Itunes and download the song. You’ll be glad you did.

The thing is, Guthrie also produces fine music. His “The City of New Orleans” is a great example of this. The track was his only top forty hit and it holds up just as well today as it did when first released. Guthrie has always been a master at crafting catchy songs and choosing cover pieces that are really perfect for his particular brand of performance. These things make him more than just a funny diversion. Yes, you get plenty of humor from the man, but there is always music there to back it up. Arlo Guthrie is a legend, but more importantly he’s a great musician, a witty man and a performer who brings a lot of fun and personality to the table. The Coronado show is a great opportunity to catch him in his element. Don’t miss this one.

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Arlo Guthrie
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