It rare that the family business is folk singing but it’s just a way of life for the Guthrie family. Spanning generations, social movements and influencing singer songwriters for almost 80 years, the Guthries have built the framework for American folk music. Still going strong, the Key West Theater will host Arlo Guthrie, at 70 years old, along with his son Abe and daughter Sarah Lee for their Re:Generation Tour Jan. 26 and 27. The night will be filled with the family legacy of storytelling, bits of lore and history, as well as some of the greatest folk music crafted.
“I grew up chasing Dad’s bus as it left the farm to tour, I always wanted to be on the bus,” said Sarah Lee Guthrie, Arlo’s youngest daughter and musician. “Now the circle is unbroken, and to have generations up on stage, its phenomenal and I am so grateful.”
The foundation of the Guthrie music was instilled in American culture by Woody Guthrie, Arlo’s father and Abe and Sarah’s grandfather. In 1940, as an alternative to “God Bless America,” Woody penned the infamous “This Land is Your Land” that still resounds today. Woody become the most influential folk singer working with Pete Seeger and eventually inspiring a young Bob Dylan. Growing up with his father’s music, Arlo made it big in his own right in 1967 with his satirical, counterculture hit “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” that was 18 minutes long and tackled the Vietnam draft, American blind justice and littering. His biggest Billboard hit was his rendition of “The City Of New Orleans.” Later, Guthrie started one of the first indie labels, Rising Son Records, and has appeared on television with recurring roles in two major network television series (“The Byrds of Paradise” and “Relativity”), and feature films “Alice’s Restaurant” and “Roadside Prophets” (1992), and has authored three children’s books.
Since Abe and Sarah Lee grew up surrounded by music, the family legacy seemed inevitable. Abe joined his father’s band in the ’80s as a producer and keyboardist and Sarah Lee has recorded multiple albums of original music for two decades.
“The stage is a sacred space for us,” said Sarah Lee Guthrie. “Watching our father, we know what a powerful tool music is. He is one of the last great storytellers and he can bring a whole room together.”
Expect good music too. Arlo and Sarah will be trading off on songs, his and her originals as well as some family gems. “We like old school theme with instrumentation, such as Dad playing the banjo, harmonizing and telling stories,” she said. “We’re blue collar singers. It’s a blessing being a folk musician without the pressure of mainstream.
Key West Theater
January 26 & 27
$100.00 – $120.00 www.keywesttheater.com
“Imagine 50 people a day walking in, singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may thinks it’s a movement. – Arlo Guthrie, of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree