What’s in a name? A lot, if your last name is Guthrie. There are few surnames so loaded with expectation, history and respect, and few people as deserving of that respect as Arlo Guthrie.
Born in 1947, the eldest son of Woody and Marjorie Guthrie, Arlo seemingly had little choice but to enter the world of folk music, singing for the downtrodden. Arlo Guthrie first performed at age 13, and has had his lifetime to find his own path along music’s folky backroads.
Yet now, at 65, he’s still Woody’s kid, bringing his “Here Comes the Kid” tour to western towns, such as the concert he just played a week ago in Irvine, Calif., in honor of his dad, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. No matter that the younger Guthrie has more than two dozen albums in his own name. Today, he’s “the kid,” picking his guitar or plucking on a piano, and singing just as he did while learning to play his first guitar at age 5 at Woody’s knee. He’s got more burdens to carry now than he did then, however. His wife of 43 years, Jackie, died last year from cancer, shortly after he began touring in the fall.
The Irvine journalist who spoke with Arlo Guthrie asked him what songs he would play. He refused to answer. “While your readers can find the set lists somewhere on the internet, I hope they won’t look them up,” he said. “I want my audience to come without knowing what it’s going to be.” So folks, open up your ears and your heart and don’t ask too many questions. Arlo Guthrie will see you, somewhere.
Arlo Guthrie plays 7:30 pm Friday, April 26, at McDonald Theatre; $27.50-$45.