It’s been a half-century since Arlo Guthrie penned his signature song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” However, it’s never a certainty that the 18-minute opus will make the folk icon’s set list.
“Thank goodness I don’t do the entire song every night, or I wouldn’t endure,” Guthrie says while calling from Newberry, S.C. “But, later this year we’ll put it back in the setlist for another long tour. This time we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the motion picture ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ being released.”
So it’s unconfirmed whether Guthrie will slip in the lengthy tune when he performs Feb. 10 at the Carolina Theatre. Guthrie is working on the set list.
“This tour, ‘Re:Generation’ was a little different, as my daughter Sarah Lee (Guthrie) will be with me onstage all night swapping songs and stories,” he said. “So it’s not a typical Arlo Guthrie show.”
That said, there really is no typical Guthrie concert. The charismatic son of legendary folkie Woody Guthrie typically engages the audience and delivers his musings on the spot. Expect the experience to be amped up when sharing the stage with his daughter.
“I like to have fun up there,” Guthrie says. “I’ve been doing this for such a long time because I love it. There’s nothing like going up there and performing in front of an attentive crowd.”
Guthrie much prefers his gigs as a singer-songwriter rather than acting, even though Guthrie has earned good reviews for his few acting turns. His performance as the star of “Alice’s Restaurant” was particularly strong but the humble Guthrie would rather not be complimented on his skills as a thespian.
“I’m a lousy actor,” Guthrie said. “Though I did have fun doing it (‘Alice’s Restaurant’). I have a difficult time watching it.”
Guthrie, an inveterate political animal, winces when he reads about some of the current politicians. However, he’s optimistic when looking ahead.
“This is a great time,” Guthrie says. “It may not seem like a comfortable time, but we’ve made the turn of the century and entered a new era. The dust will settle eventually, and when it does we’ll find the world will belong to a younger crowd. Their sensibilities, their hopes and dreams will become normal. I love it.”
Bruce Springsteen toasted the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie by rendering the folk troubadour’s classic “This Land is Your Land” for many of his 2012 concerts. Springsteen enjoys singing the praises of the Guthrie family.
“We haven’t had a chat for a while,” Guthrie says. “But I love the guy. He has consistently stood up for the right stuff. And I’ve found him to be quite thoughtful and knowledgeable. That’s pretty rare.”
Arlo Guthrie is an uncommon sort as well. He delivers spirited sets, and like the Boss and Neil Young, he’s connected with contemporary music. Not surprisingly, Guthrie particularly likes the anti-establishment acts who are poking at the current administration.
“They’re doing that (provoking) now,” Guthrie says. “That’s a good thing. But it’s always there, though it’s not always part of popular culture. But you have to dig to see some of this. So if you are unaware of it, it seems like it’s not there. But it is there just like it was when I was young.”
Guthrie says he hates complainers and believes it’s up to everyone to chart their own paths.
“The older I get, the more it seems to me that each person makes their own world,” Guthrie says. “It’s a world that is naturally filled with difficulty as it is, without adding to it on purpose. As my father used to say, ‘It’s hard enough getting through this life alive.’”
Who: Arlo Guthrie with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Abe Guthrie
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 10
Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham
Tickets: $39.50, $59.50 and $75
Info: 919-560-3030 or carolinatheatre.org