FREDERICK, Md. — Folk icon Arlo Guthrie will bring his Running Down the Road tour to the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md., on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The son of folk singer and composer Woody Guthrie, the younger Guthrie followed in his father’s musical footsteps and has long been a symbol of speaking out for social consciousness and activism.
Guthrie, 69, took some time to answer questions via email from Herald-Mail Media.
HM: You’re coming to the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md., on Wednesday, Feb. 15. What can we expect from your show?
Guthrie: We’re doing a tour called “Running Down The Road.” This show was created with songs and tales that haven’t been on the setlist for decades, and in some cases have never been heard live. There are a few that I’ve done every night no matter what the tour is, so expect a few of those as well.
HM: In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, you explained why you don’t sing your signature hit, the 18-minute-and-34-second “Alice’s Restaurant” live, except during anniversary years. It has now been more than half a century since the song was released. Do you perform it in concerts now?
Guthrie: We did a year and a half 50th anniversary tour January 2015 to May 2016, which was a celebration of “Alice’s Restaurant.” I had to relearn the entire saga, but I got through it and had a wonderful time. Now we’re on to the next thing and “Alice” is not a part of the current tour.
HM: You been performing on stage since you were 13 years old. What keeps you going back on the road?
Guthrie: Honestly, I just don’t know how to do anything else. Aside from that awful truth, I love being on the road.
HM: You’ve authored some books for children. What inspired you to write for kids?
Guthrie: I’ve always been a storyteller, although it’s usually for older folks. However, having grandkids made me want to take a look at very young people.
HM: There is so much political and social unrest in the United States today. Do you see a counterculture movement on the horizon, similar to what took place in the 1960s?
Guthrie: I’ve always advocated the questioning of authority —that’s how I got my start. I’m an equal opportunity “distruster,” whether that authority is left, right or center. I actually believe that most people feel that way these days. To view those people only in terms of their political affiliations is to miss the point entirely. It’s not counter-culture anymore. It is THE culture we live in.
HM: You have been an icon of the counterculture movement for more than 50 years. Have you ever thought about becoming a straight-laced conservative?
Guthrie: Straight-laced? I couldn’t do that straight-faced.
HM: Your last album was released in 2009, “Tales of ’69.” Do you have plans to release new music?
Guthrie: There was a time long ago when someone could actually make a living making albums. Those days are long gone. When we make records these days, we’re doing it because it’s fun.
HM: Most of your work has been done to carry on the legacy of your father, the late Woody Guthrie. Do you think you have done him proud?
Guthrie: There’s a little bit of my father in all his kids, and I’m just one of ’em. Just like I see a piece of myself in my own kids. I’ve tried to use that inheritance in ways that would make both of my parents proud. Standing up for the right stuff, speaking up and singing out for a world that inevitably becomes better for everyone and not just a few.
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