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Arlo Guthrie Celebrates His Father’s Legacy

Renowned folk songwriter and singer Arlo Guthrie performs at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va., and catches up with Art Beat to talk about his father, Woody.
Arlo Guthrie, the son of folk legend Woody Guthrie, played his first gig at the age of 13. He has performed all over the world and runs his own record label, Rising Son Records. But while the younger Guthrie found his own sound and subject matter, separate from his father’s, he has never forgotten his roots or forsaken that legacy as a great source for lessons in music and life.

For months now, he has been traveling on his “Here Comes the Kid” tour in celebration of what would have been Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. In mid-February, Art Beat spoke with him during a two-night run at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va., about his own music and his relationship with his dad.

“He really was determined to be a freethinker,” Guthrie told Art Beat. “To believe what he wanted to believe, or what he thought was important, to say what he had to say without you getting the feeling that he’s selling you something. To me these were very important lessons.”

Guthrie reached deep back into the archives of well-known Woody Guthrie songs and stories to share with fans. Like his father, whose songs were often almost “journalistic,” Arlo Guthrie is a storyteller, but in a different way.

“He wrote songs about things that were going on, songs about stuff that had already happened, songs about what he thought ought to happen,” said Guthrie. “That’s not my style. I’m more of a personal writer. I write about things that are personal to me.”

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