guthrie

Arlo Guthrie & Reed Foehl @ Boulder Theater

On April 20, eTown welcomes legendary artist Arlo Guthrie and up-and-coming Colorado musician Reed Foehl for a two-hour live taping. Folk music icon Arlo Guthrie will make his fifth visit to eTown, on the heels of his Journey On tour. And, Colorado-based singer/songwriter Reed Foehl, a storyteller in his own right, will perform material from his most recent release: "Once an Ocean."

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More Info / Buy Tickets

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Check out some earlier Arlo coverage on The Grateful Web.

DAVID AMRAM The First 80 Years! A Musical Celebration

DAVID AMRAM: The First 80 Years Jazz, a spectacular, historic celebration of a true American original whom the Washington Post has described as “one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced,” will be presented by Jazz Forum Arts on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:30 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, in Manhattan, it was announced by Mark Morganelli, Executive Director of the presenting organization. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Clearwater, the organization founded by Pete Seeger, as well as the Woody Guthrie Foundation

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The historic concert will feature:

· The New York premiere of Amram’s “Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie” performed in memory of Odetta by the 60-piece Queens College Orchestra, conducted by Maurice Peress. The work will be introduced by Nora Guthrie, who commissioned it with support from the Guthrie Foundation, based on her father’s song “This Land is Your Land.”  

·The New York premiere screening of the finale of the recent production of Amram’s 1968 comic opera “Twelfth Night” with a libretto by the late Joe Papp, which will be introduced by Bernard Gersten, Executive Producer of the Lincoln Center Theater and former co-producer with Joe Papp of the New York Shakespeare Festival.

·The first ever concert performance of excerpts from Amram’s classic film scores, “Splendor in the Grass” (1960), and “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962), performed by the Brooklyn Conservatory Jazz Ensemble, directed by Earl McIntyre, and The Jazz & Gospel Choirs, directed by Renee Manning.

· “En memoria de Chano Pozo” for Latin/jazz group and symphony orchestra, performed in memory of  Dizzy Gillespie by the Queens College Orchestra, conducted by David Amram, with guest soloists Candido (congas) and Bobby Sanabria (timbales) with Amram himself on piano, pennywhistles and percussion.  

·“One Heart, Many Voices,” performed by Amram’s Middle Eastern Trio with Avram Pengas (guitar and Bazookie) and Israeli singer/songwriter David Broza.

·Malachy McCourt will introduce Amram’s  “The Fox Hunt From Cork Meets The Blues From New York,” performed by Larry Kirwan (Black 47), John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Amram’s Latin/Jazz Ensemble and dancers from the Stella Adler School of Acting.

·Actor John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos) will read excerpts from Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” followed by performance Kerouac/Ginsburg/Cassady title song from the 1959 Best Documentary Film “Pull My Daisy.

The star-studded salute will also include filmed 80th birthday wishes from Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, members of the N.Y. Philharmonic, and friends and colleagues from around the country. There will also be appearances and performances by Amram’s friends from the world of theatre, film and music, including actor Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey), Josh White Jr., Patience Higgins,  the Amram Family Band and current members and alumni of Amram's quartets from the past 40 years, as well as other surprise guests.  

The entire concert will be filmed by Lawrence Kraman for his documentary film “David Amram: The First 80 Years,” segments of which will be shown for the first time at this concert. To see links for the trailer, visit here and for the poster.

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During his illustrious career, David Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works; numerous scores for Broadway theater and film; two operas, and the score for the landmark 1959 documentary Pull My Daisy, narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac.  He is also the author of three books, published by Paradigm Publishers.  A pioneer player of jazz French horn, he is also a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, in addition to being a renowned improvisational lyricist.  Amram has collaborated with Langston Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Johnny Depp, Willie Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles Mingus, Lionel Hampton, Tito Puente and Leonard Bernstein, who chose him as The New York Philharmonic's first composer-in-residence in 1966.  One of Amram's most recent works, Giants of the Night, a flute concerto, was commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway.  Today, as he has for over 50 years, Amram continues to compose music while traveling the world as a conductor, soloist, bandleader, visiting scholar, and narrator in five languages.  He celebrates his 80th birthday on November 17th.  Additional information is available at http://www.davidamram.com/

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Tickets for DAVID AMRAM: The First 80 Years are: $75, $55 and $35 (members, students, seniors: $70, $50 and $30; children: $65, $45 and $25) and can be purchased at the Symphony Space Box Office, 212.864.5400, or at http://www.symphonyspace.org.  For information about Jazz Forum Arts, call 888.99.BEBOP, or visit http://www.jazzforumarts.org/.

Arlo Guthrie In Times Like These

photo by Jon C. Hancock- for the Grateful Web

To some purists, hearing Arlo Guthrie's, In Times Like These, released last summer, they might figure the live album was overproduced because of the symphony orchestra that backs up Guthrie's acoustic guitar and piano work. The result, however, is a recording that showcases Guthrie's singular storytelling voice and the nakedness of his instruments, while providing a theatrical swell behind his songs. As a listener, you almost anticipate seeing a movie unfold with the next note.

Folksinger, master storyteller, and all-round genuine human being, Arlo Guthrie has been entertaining for over four decades. In 2006, I had an opportunity to interview this folk legend while he was on the Alice's Restaurant 40th Anniversary Massacre Tour, where he recreated the insanely-funny 18-minute monologue that made him famous. My husband and I shared that experience with our twenty-something son at a local university concert that Guthrie did here in North Dakota.  It was our pleasure to pass along the humor and social consciousness renderings that Guthrie was know for.

When I interviewed Guthrie that year, he had just come from Lexington, KY, where he had recorded this album with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of John Nardolillo. "We've done shows with about thirty different orchestras, over the last five years," he said two years ago. "This is, I think, the first time we're working with a young orchestra. It's really great, working with young people."  The orchestra did slip in thirteen guest artists who were friends of the university, of which five were faculty. But still the large orchestra was composed of university music students. Nardolillo has the infamous distinction of breaking into Guthrie's dressing room at the Lincoln Center during a performance. He did manage to make a plea for doing work with orchestras before he was hauled off by security!

This experiment with making music with orchestras is not just using a symphony to back whatever Guthrie does up front on stage. Instead, it is creating something new and fresh that is crossing genres. "The trick," Guthrie said, "is to try to do something that is not just something you could do with a synthesizer, but to create orchestral arrangements in the symphonic tradition rather than make them sit there playing chords." He insisted that he wanted to use the talent that was present in the orchestra. "We've done that, I think," he continued. "We've got some great charts that were written by a friend of mine who is new to the kind of music I play."

What has happened and is very present in this new CD is a synthesis of musical traditions. "There's a great classical tradition that most people are probably not as familiar with as they could be," Guthrie added. "It's a situation where our audience will probably come to see us even if we're playing with a herd of elephants. And there are a lot of symphony people who would go to hear the orchestra, regardless of who is playing with them. So you get a wonderfully mixed audience of people for whom the whole thing is new."

While at UK, Guthrie also taught his first university course. "There is a lot of interest in the part that music plays in different aspects of the culture, certainly for somebody from the sixties when music was really important, when music was the only vehicle for popular dissent,' he said. "And so it can play an important part in creating the soundtrack for social change. That's one aspect they're looking at.

"Others may be looking at more technical takes on this:  how do you make a record or those kinds of things," he says. "Everything from the simplest mechanical information to the business of doing music within and without the entertainment industry."

In 1983, Arlo left a major record company and started his own label, Rising Son Records, and quickly advised young musicians to go the do-it- yourself route. "I've done both. I've worked 15 years with Warners and then the last 20 years, we've done it on our own. We were really one of the first people to strike out from the stable of the major labels and do it ourselves. 'Course a lot of people are doing it now."

Certainly, a lot of independent bands are doing that and even some bands that were signed are becoming independent mainly because of the nature of control. What people forget is that you may get a big advance, but you've got to pay it back. Guthrie added, "Not only that. They have the best creative accounting in the world. Even for purely financial reasons, it really doesn't make sense to sell yourself to a corporation that is basically owned by a different corporation, as they are both own by another corporation. By the time that you get done looking at the big picture, the music part of the company you're working with is a very small part of a large company that has a lot of different interests. So, their interest in you as a single artist becomes minuscule compared to what they are doing.

"If you do it yourself and you're actually interested in yourself, not only do you have no one looking over your shoulder, but you stand to make a living, which I guarantee that you will not do when you are the minuscule focus of some global network."

Unfortunately, musicians still believe in the magic of a record deal.  "The reality has not flowed to the general public," Guthrie said. "You would have to have worked in it for a little while before you realize that not only will you not be somebody, but you will be poor. There are all kinds of drawbacks of getting caught up in the entertainment industry."

Rising Son Records not only produces Guthrie's music but his children's recordings and some by other artists. "We're beginning to branch out," he said. "For me, this was not an easy thing to do. The only thing we had was the ability to make music. I didn't know anything about the business of it so it took many years to get to the point where we actually knew what we were doing.... But the bottom line is that when we make a record and somebody likes it and purchases it, we do the accounting. We know how it works. We know that we can actually make a living doing this."

Guthrie continues to make his own kind of music. In Times Like These proves that he can still make a significant mark on the music scene. Of special note is Guthrie's arrangement of "St. James Infirmary." With careful addition of horns, Klezmer clarinet, and stride piano, the simple folk classic takes on a significant musical reawakening. The orchestra also breathes life into his tender "If You Would Just Drop By," which was one of my all-time favorites. This version is fresh and will be eye-opening to old folkies like me, as well attract new fans. Though some of Guthrie's songs become pop songs. Others retain their folk roots and the orchestra just supports that effort. "In Times Like These," the title cut, is left as a solo voice and guitar piece.

Even Steve Goodman's song, "City of New Orleans," that Guthrie made famous is enhanced by the orchestra. It is always a crowd favorite. But there are unexpected touches, such as horns and drums that peek out from the strings.

Also, included in the mix are three other songs that Guthrie didn't write.  Glen Anthony's ballad, "You Are the Song," may have been a bit of a stretch for Guthrie vocally, but it works, and will appeal to the symphony/pop crowd. Huddie Ledbetter's "Good Night Irene," unfortunately, is treated as a theatrical musical number. There is no way to make it less so with an orchestra. In contrast, Luigi Creatore's "Can't Help Falling in Love" does work both for the orchestra and for Guthrie.

All in all, In Times Like These is a bold melding of the folk experience and symphony structure. I can understand why Guthrie keeps working with orchestras, encouraging new talent, and drawing new fans. Check it out.