For boomers, it's hard to think of Arlo Guthrie as the older generation. Impish Arlo, taunting the fuzz who arrested him for littering in "Alice's Restaurant," is part of the Woodstock generation he recently celebrated on "Tales of '69," a digitalized tape of a concert recorded on Long Island just before Arlo's Woodstock appearance.
But he's granddad to half the performers in "The Guthrie Family Rides Again" concert coming Sunday to the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. He's dad to Sarah Lee, Cathy, Annie and Abe, and son-in-law Johnny Irion, Sarah Lee's co-songwriting husband. The only one onstage who's not Guthrie-related is drummer Terry Oliveri.
Arlo has been the male elder since his dad, folk legend Woody, died at 55 in 1967. Woody's presence is felt on this tour with the rousing "This Land Is Your Land" and songs for which Sarah Lee composed tunes on her first children's album, "Go Waggaloo."
"If you have enough kid left inside yourself somewhere for these songs to make sense, consider yourself lucky," says Arlo Guthrie. "They're building blocks of who your are and where you come from."
We phoned Sarah Lee at her Berkshires home.
When was the last Guthrie family tour?
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Twenty-five years ago, before any of us had kids. I was 5, and that's the only time I can remember we all toured together. Of course, there are more of us now, with kids from 2 to 18.
Any chance of revisiting "Alice's Restaurant"?
No. For one thing, it takes up half an hour. Anyway, times were different then. . . . He's been doing "City of New Orleans" on tour.
Sounds like there are more songs by Woody than anybody.
We're doing some of his unrecorded songs that Billy Bragg and Wilco wrote music for on "Mermaid Avenue." That was the street Woody and my dad lived on in Brooklyn. They did 40 songs out of about 3,000 in his archive.
Were the children's songs a surprise?
No, he has a lot of kids' songs. It's amazing the breadth of subjects he covered. The ones we chose were written in New York on a typewriter with drawings for proposed album covers. Smithsonian Folkways pulled out about a dozen for us. We'd wanted to do a children's album for some time. Our daughters [Olivia and Sophia] play on them. Olivia even helped write one. It's very different from our other recordings. We play psychedelic folk.
Like it's 1969?[She laughs.]
WHAT "The Guthrie Family Rides Again" concert
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Sunday, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
INFO $68-$98, patchogue theatre.com, 631-207-1313