Arlo Guthrie played his final Thanksgiving show @ Carnegie Hall (pics, setlist)
Saturday’s show at Carnegie Hall was billed as the last time Arlo Guthrie and his family would be performing their annual Thanksgiving show at storied NYC venue, which he had been doing since 1967 when he debuted his hit song, “Alice’s Restaurant.” This occasion also marked the end of three years touring with his youngest daughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, who also played in the front half of this show.
For the first of two sets that night, Arlo and his band — which included son, Abe Guthrie, on keyboards, and longtime collaborators (and bandmates from Shenandoah) Terry “a la berry” Hall on drums, and husband and wife duo Steve and Carol Ide on guitars and backing vocals — played many of his classics as well as a few covers, including his father Woody Guthrie’s song “The Gypsy Davy” and Bob Dylan’s “Gates of Eden.”
Arlo is not only known for his music, but also his colorful storytelling. He told a story about playing a show in Tucson, AZ, some decades ago, and being asked by a local why they should see him over Bob Dylan who was also in Tucson that night. Guthrie, being a wise-ass, cracked that they’d hear more of Dylan’s older hits at his show than they would at Dylan’s, since Dylan was focused more on new material at that point. Guthrie then joked that he raced to his dressing room at the venue and proceeded to study a book of Dylan songs for the next few hours. Ironically, Bob Dylan was also playing a show on Saturday night in New York City, not too far away at The Beacon Theater.
Near the end of the first set, Sarah Lee came out for a short set of her songs, and she talked about the loss of her mother Jackie a few years ago. For the final song heading into the intermission, she was joined by her father for a rendition of traditional country/folk song, “A Satisfied Mind.”
Following the twenty minute intermission, Arlo, Abe and Terry came out again to do the song that everyone was waiting for — “Alice’s Restaurant” — which brought everyone back to 1967, save for a few subtle updates to lyrics including a reference to smart phones. Afterwards, the Ides returned and more family joined the stage, including daughters Annie and Cathy, and plenty of grandchildren. Towards the end of the set, Arlo’s sister, Nora Guthrie, also came on stage to join in on their father’s songs “This Land Is Your Land” and “My Peace,” and the audience was encouraged to sing along. The spirit of Pete Seeger could be felt throughout the evening, as he regularly performed with the Guthries, up until his last appearance in 2013 with them, just a few months before his passing in January 2014.
After departing the stage, the whole family returned for the encore and closed out the night with a rousing cover of Lead Belly’s classic, “Goodnight, Irene.” The concert was truly a family affair, not only in terms of the Guthries on stage, but also in terms of multiple generations of families in the audience including my own, who have made a tradition of listening to “Alice’s Restaurant” every year on Thanksgiving. The folk spirit was strong Saturday night in the Stern Auditorium and provided plenty of warm moments despite it approaching freezing temperatures outside.
Pictures from the night are in the gallery above and setlist is below.
SETLIST: Arlo Guthrie @ Carnegie Hall 11/30/2019
The Motorcycle Song
In My Darkest Hour
Ukulele Lady (Gus Kahn cover)
The Gypsy Davy (Woody Guthrie cover)
Gates of Eden (Bob Dylan cover)
Ridin’ Down the Canyon
Honey and the Dew
Don’t I Fit in My Daddy’s Shoes? (Sarah Lee Guthrie lead vocals)
The Big Picture (Sarah Lee Guthrie lead vocals)
In Tune With You (Sarah Lee Guthrie & Chris Wilson cover) (Sarah Lee Guthrie solo)
A Satisfied Mind ([traditional] cover)
Alice’s Restaurant Massacree
Coming Into Los Angeles
All Over the World
I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler
Garden Song (David Mallett cover)
The City of New Orleans (Steve Goodman cover)
This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover)
My Peace (Woody Guthrie cover)
Goodnight, Irene (Lead Belly cover)
photos by Ellen Qbertplaya