Arlo Guthrie is an American icon, the son of the great folk artist Woody Guthrie and a star in his own right who has survived the twists and turns of the music business for nearly 40 years.
And he's still going strong, embarking on a national tour that brings him to The Ark in Ann Arbor Monday and Tuesday night.
Arlo paid attention growing up, picking up on the music of seminal folkies such as Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, and Cisco Houston who came around to play with his dad. By the time he was in his teens, he was carving out his own career.
Guthrie achieved pop icon status in 1967 with the 18-minute epic tale of draft dodging, garbage hauling, and Thanksgiving day hijinks, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," which many radio stations still make a point of playing on Thanksgiving. He also had a hit in 1972 with his version of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans," which contains an unforgettable melody and sense of wandering that captures classic Americana. By the early 1980s, Guthrie found himself in the same spot as most folk musicians who never crossed over to rock: without a recording contract.
He created his own label, Rising Son, reissued his old albums and made new music while working for a number of social causes such as environmentalism and touring regularly.
His show Monday at The Ark will include Aloha Live 2004, featuring Hawaiian musicians Amy Hanaiali'i and Willie K. On Tuesday he performs solo.
Both performances start at 8 p.m.; tickets for each are $45. Information: 734-761-1800 or www.theark.org.