Arlo Guthrie brought his Here Comes the Kid Tour to the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, Virginia Saturday night. The tour celebrated Arlo’s dad – Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. If you are a fan of folk music this was a concert not to miss. Not only did Arlo salute his dad he also gave nods to Jack Elliot, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, Pete Seeger, and more.
Arlo started the show with a pair of songs by Woody Guthrie. “Oklahoma Hills” and “Pretty Boy Floyd,” and between each song he would give a personal history of the tune. His third song was “St. James Infirmary Blues” a folk song covered by many of artists including Jack Elliot and Lead Belly. With the fourth selection, Arlo began to play his own compositions and played his beautiful instrumental piece called “Haleiwa Blues.”
Neither Arlo nor Woody Guthrie were and are known for their instrumentals. They are known for their songs that speak out against things injustice. Arlo performed his moving antiwar song “When a Soldier Makes it Home.”
Next he performed a powerful song called “Deportees” about an airplane crash in 1948. The lyrics were written by Woody but it become known through Pete Seeger and has been covered by many including Arlo, Bob Dylan, The Bryds, Joan Baez and the list goes on. This was followed by Woody’s “1913 Massacre,” a song about Michigan copper strikers and their families. They were celebrating Christmas Eve and someone shouted “Fire” and panic followed and 73 folks were trampled to death, 59 were children, as the exit door was held shut, but there was actually no fire.
“Mother’s Voice,” with lyrics by Woody followed, with music by the legendary Janis Ian. He finished the first set with a cover of Woody’s “Do Re Mi.” There was a brief intermission.
Arlo Guthrie performed solo – without a band, and had the audience in the palms of his hands with his stories, antidotes, and songs.
He opened the second set with a story of his late wife being arrested at a Connecticut airport for possessing some marijuana. Apparently a fan had given Arlo a tin which had the substance in it and he had forgot about and tossed it into a bag which his wife used. Then he launched into the appropriate “Coming into Los Angeles, followed by Lead Belly’s “Alabama Bound.” After putting down his guitars, Arlo ecited a poem he wrote called “Mooses Come Walking.”
Now moving to a piano, Arlo performed an old folk song he used to hear Ramblin’ Jack Elliot sing called “Old Shep,” which morphed into Arlo’s own “Me and My Goose.” Steve Goodman’s song “City Of New Orleans” followed, and that was followed by his own “Highway in the Wind.” The set ended with perhaps his dad’s best known song – “This Land is Your Land.” The crowd responded with an enormous standing ovation.
Arlo Guthrie came back on the stage for an encore playfully telling the crowd the concert was over and if they had to leave they could and they wouldn’t miss anything good. No one left which was good because they would have missed his performance of “My Peace.” Woody Guthrie had written the lyrics to this song but Arlo had put them to music. Arlo would also turn this song onto this evening’s only sing-along. The show was over after Arlo Guthrie left the stage to another standing ovation and the house lights came on.
The audience filed out the venue satisfied from what they heard. Sure, I heard one lady say she wished he played “The Pickle Song” and I would have loved to have heard “Alice’s Restaurant.” Having so many songs to choose from between Arlo’s own catalog and Woody’s catalog – we would have needed several concerts to hear them all. However, I was happy to hear the rarities he did play and sing.
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.
Arlo Gunthrie played one night only on Saturday, February 17, 2013 at the Hylton Performing Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, Virginia. You can check out upcoming performances on their event calendar.
Arlo Guthrie’s website.