August 1, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

Archives of musician and writer

Arlo Guthrie with Xavier

The Welcomat, April 28th 1993

A friend recently asked me if I thought Arlo Guthrie was actually good in his own right, or if I paid attention to him because of his father. Guthrie wouldn’t be who he is if it wasn’t for his father, but unlike another singer who grew up the son of an absent legend, Guthrie has dealt with the situation with grace and not the slightest trace of boastfulness.

Guthrie may not be the songwriter his father was, or even the equal of some of his contemporaries, but his best originals, those from the Amigo and Outlasting the Blues albums absolutely stand on their own, and his guitar and piano playing have always been on a high caliber. Then there’s his still-wonderful sense of humor and brilliant natural comedic timing.

But Guthrie has always done something far more important — carrying on a tradition, both musical and political. It’s a tradition started long before his father, and one that somehow encompasses the very essence of what this country could and should be about. I may not like every song he chooses to sing, but he always does something to move me. Always one to keep it in the family, he’ll be backed by his son’s band Xavier.

Arlo Guthrie with Xavier: Fri., Apr. 30 at 8 p.m. at Harrison Auditorium, (University Museum), 33rd and Spruce Sts., $20, 247-1300.