ATLANTA — Woody Guthrie’s impact and musical legacy is immeasurable. While he helped shape generations of folk singers, his legacy is coming to life in a whole new way, thanks to his son Arlo’s latest tour.
The tour, which rolled through town on Friday, features more than a dozen members of his family on stage performing a combination of new and old songs, with contributions from each generation on stage. The show also featured a handful of songs from other artists who have added music to a number of previously unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics.
The evening began when Arlo’s daughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and her husband, Johnny Irion, performed their song, “When the Lilacs are in Bloom.” Arlo took the stage a few songs later and opened his set with “Gypsy Davy,” a traditional song adapted by Woody Guthrie and also included on Arlo’s 1973 album “Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys.”
While Arlo did perform some of his better known songs throughout the evening — such as “The City of New Orleans” and “Coming into Los Angeles” — the show was far from a rundown of his greatest hits. The group performed a number of Woody’s better known songs, including “Pretty Boy Floyd” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Throughout the night, the entire family took turns performing songs. The entire show had a casual feel to it, and it’s obvious that Arlo and company truly enjoy playing together. While the group was clearly familiar with its entire repertoire, it didn’t sound overly rehearsed; in fact, it appeared that the group wasn’t working off a concrete set list.
Woody was born in 1912 and died in 1967 after a lengthy battle with Huntington’s Disease. He profoundly influenced a generation of folk singers, including Bob Dylan, who helped bring about the 1960s folk revolution.