by Jane Roser
“You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.”
Fifty years goes by fast. It’s hard to believe it’s been half a century since the then-18 year old son of folk legend Woody Guthrie littered in a little Massachusetts town on Thanksgiving right at the height of the Vietnam War. That got him into a ton of trouble, which resulted in Guthrie being ineligible for the draft.
It took Guthrie 18 minutes, one for each year of his life, to explain in the song how dumping some trash, a seemingly harmless thing, made him a bad person and thus unfit to fight for his country. Philadelphia Weekly said of the iconic song: “If there’s one Turkey Day custom in our city that people actually enjoy, it’s the airing of the classic 1967 Arlo Guthrie yarn ‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree'”.
This January, Guthrie will embark on an 18 month long North American tour to celebrate 50 years gone by since “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” was released and carved a niche for Guthrie in folk music history.
Each night on the tour, Guthrie will play the musical monologue in it’s entirety, as well as tunes from every LP he’s released since that debut album. The anniversary tour will include Terry Hall (drums), Bobby Sweet (guitar/vocals), Darren Todd (guitar) and Guthrie’s son Abe (keyboard). Each show will include a multi-media presentation featuring previously unseen images from Guthrie’s personal archives including over 75,000 photos (I think that beats my mom’s current collection) which have been digitized specifically for this tour. Also shown will be Peter Star’s claymation film depicting Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song.”
“Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” has endured as a classic because it’s themes are still relevant today and the song itself has become as much a Thanksgiving Day tradition as turkey, cranberry sauce and Guitar Hero (well, that’s how my family celebrates). Guthrie even purchased the church in Massachusetts that initially provided the trash Guthrie and his friends were trying to clean up when they felt the long arm of the law nick them for making an honest mistake. Purchased over 20 years ago, Guthrie renamed the Old Trinity Church to The Guthrie Center at the Old Trinity Church and runs his non-profit interfaith church foundation, which addresses issues such as health care and cultural preservation out of it.
Kicking off in Daytona Beach, Florida, the tour will wind it’s way through the South, Mid-West and Western U.S. before finishing up it’s run in Akron, Ohio on May 3rd. The entire tour schedule can be found on www.arlo.net