Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 22, 2008

Arlo Guthrie

Nov. 20, 2008
Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield
by Eric Sutter

Folk troubadour and Berkshire resident Arlo Guthrie brought his Lost World Tour before a full house hometown crowd with a Rock n' Roll band which included his son Abe Guthrie on keyboards. The Colonial was an acoustically perfect fit for Guthrie's brand of folk-rockin' music. Armed with a 12-string guitar and harmonica, he strummed an early period love song, "The Chilling of the Evening" with drummer Terry a la Berry's punctuated beats keeping time. They performed a comical version of "In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree" with typical Guthrie humor throughout.

Guthrie introduced a trio of women, the Burns Sisters, who provided harmony back-up singing on "St. James Infirmary" as he played the ragtimey fingerpicking gambler's blues on his acoustic 6-string guitar. Guthrie's playing is primarily folk-based, but his use of country style flat-picking was evident on his father's song, "Do-Ri-Me" with accompaniement on fiddle by Bobby Sweet. The songs performed were representative of a large variety of styles from a rocked up version of "The Motorcycle Song" to an instrumental piece from the 90's television show, "Byrds of Paradise" in which he appeared. "Coming into Los Angeles" featured great solo keyboard work by Abe Guthrie and an extended electric guitar solo by Bobby Sweet. The first half ended with a rousing Leadbelly tune, "Alabama Bound."

Guthrie opened the second half with a pretty Hoyt Axton song, "Evangeline," and followed with a song written about Axton by Guthrie -- the whimsical "My Old Friend." He moved to piano and plunked out a boogie with "I'm Changing My Name to Fannie Mae" as well as his 1972 hit "City of New Orleans." He debuted his folk rocker "Ride until the Morning Comes" with good response. The closer was the sing-a-long, "This Land is Your Land." After a standing ovation, he performed the prayer song, "Forgiveness and Love" and his father's "My Peace," both of which received standing ovations.