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Arlo Guthrie and the Springfield Symphony

(Washington, Mass.) Please come and join Arlo Guthrie and guest director-conductor, John Nardolillo, as they perform with the Springfield Symphony, Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 8 p.m. Go to springfieldsymphony.org for ticket purchase and more information.
Arlo Guthrie
Last year’s show sold out. The Republican reported that “Arlo Guthrie and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra took a sold-out house in Springfield Symphony Hall on a homespun, heartfelt musical journey…This score is one of the most challenging in the standard symphonic literature, demanding intense concentration, scrupulous rhythmic precision, and the most highly skilled, expressive wind soloists to bring it to life. Precision is particularly important …with only one rehearsal to prepare Guthrie’s two sets as well as “Appalachian Spring,” it was a singular miracle that the Springfield Symphony undertook the complete suite and performed it flawlessly.”

Arlo Guthrie’s latest CD In Times Like These (Rising Son Records #1126) with the University of Kentucky Orchestra debuted at #2 across the country on the three Folk DJ-L Charts – CD, Artist and Song (“In Times Like These”). It quickly surpassed the “Best of” collection at Amazon.com, which gives it a five star rating. Arlo’s recordings are expressive and reflect the impact of hearing him live. The critics are resounding in their praise:

“[Arlo] sings favorite originals and traditional gems, set to elegant, simply woven arrangements by Oxford University choirmaster James Burton.” – The Boston Globe

“This recording demonstrates the deep beauty of [Arlo’s] work, simultaneously witty and emotional.” – Creative Loafing

“[Arlo] captures the country’s cultural climate and references commercialism and division in the new title track.” – The Oklahoman

“Guthrie and co-producer George Massenburg have the elements in line to make the most of Burton’s arrangements, which underscore and add dimension without drawing attention to themselves.” – No Depression

“… the beauty of In Times Like These comes from a keen song selection and an immensely close communication with UK Symphony director-conductor John Nardolillo.” – Lexington Herald

“All the songs are performed and arranged precisely but the mischievous spirit of Guthrie imbues all of them with its own sense of identity.” – www.Americana-uk.com

Don’t miss the beauty and depth of Arlo’s music with a full symphony nor the fun and pertinence of Arlo’s stories.

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Arlo Guthrie — Solo Reunion Tour —Together at Last

Berkshires’ resident Arlo Guthrie brings his “Solo Reunion Tour —Together at Last” to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Friday, November 16th at 8PM.

Arlo GuthrieArlo Guthrie

About this performance, the 60 year old Guthrie had this to say, “it’s coming up to 50 years of life on the road and I’d love to have a chance to do it like I did with nothing but a couple of guitars and a harmonica.”

Son of the legendary Woody Guthrie, Arlo skyrocketed to fame in 1967 with the hilarious song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” which had something to do with Thanksgiving in Stockbridge, MA.

Ever wonder how he came to be named “Arlo?” He tells the story in this 1998 interview with Arlo Guthrie.

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Doc Watson at the Mahaiwe Theatre, Gt. Barrington, MA

March 30, 2002 concert review by

Doc Watson set up shop on the stage of the Mahaiwe Theatre the night before Easter and delivered a generous dose of good music, wry humor, and tender insight to a sell-out audience. It was a bravura performance by the 79 year old Hall of Famer, memorable almost as much for his talking as for his nonpareil flat-picking and singing.

Doc Watson does more than give a performance; he becomes your companion along the way, stepping aside for a moment during a song to alert you to what’s coming up in the next verse. And although much of the between-tunes patter has been been said a thousand times, some of it comes across with a freshness and intimacy that makes you feel as if he’s sharing an insight with you for the first time. Doc’s bag tonight contained the expected range of songs from Jimmy Rodgers, Merle Haggard, Homer and Jethro, Flatt and Scruggs, et al, but he also brought along a few single doses from an unusual mix of sources: Tim Hardin, George Gershwin, and the Moody Blues.

His introduction to a fresh and heartfelt rendition of Hardin’s If I Were a Carpenter left off with the remark, “He must’ve really loved her.” Gershwin’s Summtime was given a jazzy reading and came just before Haggard’s Working Man Blues, which Doc introduced by talking about his blindness.

After averring that he had done work harder than “pickin this ole guitar,” he said that he had had “a persecution complex about my handicap for a long time,” but that he one day came to accept it – “the Lord said you need a handicap to calm you down.”

Doc’s introduction to the Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin was as sweet and poignant as “patter” gets; addressing the “young gals and young fellas” in the audience, he talked about feeling so much in love with someone “you can’t hardly breathe” and knowing circumstances will keep you apart.

Doc Watson concert March 2002 Mahaiwe Theatre Gt. Barrington, MA; photo Dave Conlin Read
Doc Watson concert March 2002 Mahaiwe Theatre Gt. Barrington, MA; photo Dave Conlin Read

Treating songs like he does, selecting ones whose meanings set them apart and taking care to see that his audience is ready to hear them, shows Doc Watson to be more than merely a guitar virtuoso. He’s a remarkable man, a pretty energetic one to boot: he played two full hour-long sets, joined for half of each set by his grandson Richard (Merle’s son) and Jack Lawrence, alternately. They each took turns on the lead in their duets with Doc, and Lawrence featured a few numbers from his own CDs.

The Beartown Mountain Ramblers warmed up the capacity audience with an entertaining sampler of traditional Bluegrass. True to the essence of the genre, their performance was marked by crisp, restrained, brief solos that blended together seamlessly. They were dressed like New England gentlemen, and somehow managed to project a feeling that a bit of slapstick was imminent.

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Blind Boys of Alabama & Holmes Brothers at the Mahaiwe PAC

February 10, 2002 performance; by Dave Read

The Holmes Brothers
The Holmes Brothers, Photo: Kurt "Doc" Huot
The Blind Boys of Alabama and The Holmes Brothers inaugurated the W.E.B. DuBois concert series with thrilling shows in the Mahaiwe Theatre on February 10, 2002. Whether or not the town of Great Barrington ever decides to embrace the memory of its native son DuBois, it owes kudos to Club Helsinki for producing a concert that moved the town to the epicenter of the Gospel and Rhythm and Blues world, if only for one evening. NB: Blind Boys of Alabama on the Mahaiwe’s March 2012 schedule.)

When you enter the Mahaiwe, the slick of modernity slips away and you’re in a place with no straight lines, no shiny surfaces, almost no separation between the performing space and the audience. It’s small enough for whispers, but big enough to hold a whole lotta music; and it has electricity too, which was put to good use by The Holmes Brothers, three masterful blues rockers whose express purpose is to “make a joyful noise to the rock of their salvation.”

Led by Wendell Holmes’s raspy ecstatic vocals and fanciful electric piano, kicked along by the sharp drumming of Popsy Dixon and throbbing bass of Sherman Holmes, who also harmonize to such effect that you’re thinking there must be a choir offstage, the Holmes Brothers opened with King Jesus Will Roll All Burdens Away, setting the tone for an evening of music that would reach unimaginable heights.

That song was one of several they played from “Speaking in Tongues,” widely regarded as one of the best albums of 2001. After three numbers at the keyboard, Wendell played electric guita the rest of the way, delivering a little country twang, some straight ahead rock, and some searing, eccentric riffs of his own creation.

On the third tune, “one from our youth, called “Precious Lord,” Popsy Dixon stepped away from his drumkit, donned his sports jacket, and took the vocal lead with a haunting voice and a penetrating gaze.

Wendell’s big brother Sherman also contributed nicely to the verbal mix in addition to maintaining a tastefully varied electric pulse throughout, especially on “Thank You Jesus,” where he and Wendell swapped lines back and forth.

The oddest thing of the night was that during intermission, while the Holmes Brothers were mingling and signing autographs in the crowded lobby, I was rueing the fate of the group that had to follow such an exciting and satisfying set. I soon learned though, that relative to a performance by the Blind Boys of Alabama, there is no opening act, everything theretofore is prologue.

Mahaiwe PAC schedules concert by the Blind Boys of Alabama
Mahaiwe PAC schedules concert by the Blind Boys of Alabama
Their performance centered on their latest release, the Grammy-nominated “Spirit of the Century.” “Run On For a Long Time” was the energetic opener, with leader Clarence Fountain belting out the verses and the others harmonizing on the chorus over a driving rhythm section. About sixty minutes later, Fountain introduced the a capella finale: “One mo’- one mo’- the Rolling Stones cut it, but it wasn’t a Rolling Stones song, it’s my song. Listen as I tell you… ‘This May Be The Last Time’…”

Fountain was an entertaining leader throughout, displaying an impish side when he would rise from his usual seated position, shrug his jacket off one shoulder, put his hand on his hip and mimic an Elvis move or two. He delighted in mentioning Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and reminded the audience to watch the group on the upcoming Grammy telecast. Introducing one number, he said, “I didn’t come all the way from Alabama looking for Jesus, I brought Him along.”

twenty minutes of ecstatic singing

The most stunning part of this astounding concert was Jimmy Carter’s twenty minutes of ecstatic singing, testifying, and witnessing among the audience, having been guided down from the stage by one of the sighted band members. It was a breathtaking, spellbinding performance by Carter, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lateshow bandleader Paul Shaffer. His facial expressions showed the range of human emotions and his singing included holding a single note for what seemed to be as long as some entire pop tunes.

Meanwhile, the other Blind Boys were fully engaged with him in their own vocal ecstasy and the band was rocking ever more fervently, and loud enough to get the attention of sinners many miles away. Another highlight was the group’s Amazing Grace, set to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. (The popular arrangement of House of the Rising Sun has been credited to Dave Van Ronk, who passed away the day of this concert. Here is our 1999interview with Dave Van Ronk.)

The evening began with a presentation in celebration of the life and work of Great Barrington native W.E.B. DuBois by children from the Jubilee School of Philadelphia, an alternative community school that grew out of a neighborhood reading program. In addition to reading their own tributes and poems, as well as some Langston Hughes poetry, the students talked about their own social studies research project; DuBois is recognized as a founder of sociology for his study of urban blacks in Philadelphia in 1896 and 1897. The children ended their presentation with a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace.