Arlo Guthrie was born with a guitar in one hand and a harmonica in the other, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York in 1947. He is 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, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays (The Weavers), Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, all of whom were significant influences on Arlo’s musical career. Guthrie gave his first public performance at age 13 and quickly became involved in the music that was shaping the world during the 1960s.
Arlo practically lived in the most famous venues of the “Folk Boom” era. In New York City he hung out at Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight and The Bitter End. In Boston’s Club 47, and in Philadelphia he made places like The 2nd Fret and The Main Point his home. He witnessed the transition from an earlier generation of ballad singers like Richard Dyer-Bennet and blues-men like Mississippi John Hurt, to a new era of singer-song writers such as Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. He grooved with the beat poets like Allen Ginsburg and Lord Buckley, and picked with players like Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. He learned something from everyone and developed his own style, becoming a distinctive, expressive voice in a crowded community of singer-songwriters and political-social commentators.
Arlo Guthrie’s career exploded in 1967 with the release of “Alice’s Restaurant”, whose title song premiered at the Newport Folk Festival helped foster a new commitment among the ’60s generation to social consciousness and activism. Arlo went on to star in the 1969 Hollywood film version of “Alice’s Restaurant”, directed by Arthur Penn.
With songs like “Alice’s Restaurant”, too long for radio airplay; “Coming into Los Angeles”, banned from many radio stations (but a favorite at the 1969 Woodstock Festival); and the definitive rendition of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”, Guthrie was no One-Hit-Wonder. An artist of international stature, he has never had a hit in the usual sense.
Over the last four decades Guthrie has toured throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia winning a wide, popular following. In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, playing the piano, six and twelve-string guitar, harmonica and a dozen other instruments, Arlo is a natural-born storyteller, whose tales and anecdotes figure prominently in his performances.
These days Arlo is embarked upon a year-long road trip. The “Arlo Guthrie Solo Reunion Tour- Together At Last” will run from June 2006 through May 2007. For the first time since 1965, Guthrie will be alone on stage for the entire tour, which will take him throughout the United States and overseas to Europe and Australia.
Arlo recently created a program of symphonic arrangements of his own songs and other American classics, “An American Scrapbook”. By the end of 2007 Arlo will have performed over 40 concerts with 27 different symphony orchestras throughout the US since 1998. The show at Boston’s Symphony Hall, conducted by Keith Lockhart, was recorded and aired on PBS’ Evening at Pops. The 4th of July celebration in 2001 with the Pops attracted an audience of over 750,000 people and was broadcast live by A&E.
Rising Son’s latest release is “In Times Like These.” Guthrie collaborated with friends, John Nardolillo (musical director), and with famed engineer, George Massenburg to create the recording of Arlo with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Recorded during the spring of 2006 the live concert was released on Arlo’s 60th birthday, July 10th 2007 to wide critical acclaim.
Alongside his thriving performing career, Guthrie launched his own record label Rising Son Records in 1983. In addition to Arlo’s complete catalogue of music, RSR includes recordings by Abe’s band, Xavier, Sarah Lee’s debut album “Sarah Lee Guthrie” and Johnny Irion’s recording of “Unity Lodge”. Their collaboration on “Entirely Live” and “Exploration” (2004) as well as Johnny’s new release “Ex Tempore” are now available from the label.
Arlo is also heard on “This Land is Your Land” alongside the voice of his father Woody Guthrie. The album has won several awards including a 1997 Grammy nomination as “Best Musical Album for Children”.