Arlo Guthrie concert on PBS on Thanksgiving Day

Archival Photo: Arlo Guthrie, Tao Rodriguez Seeger, and the late Pete Seeger

If Arlo Guthrie’s song, Alice’s Restaurant, is one of your Thanksgiving traditions, you are in extra luck this year. Of course, you can almost always find a local station which will play the anti-war classic, “Alice’s Restaurant” at noon on Thanksgiving.* Though, this year, you can also see a whole Arlo concert in the evening!

PBS will premiere “Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Concert with Arlo Guthrie” on Thanksgiving Day 2015 (Nov. 26, 2015) on TV stations across the country (8 pm9:30 pm EST, please check local listings). A singular multi-media event, “Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Concert with Arlo Guthrie” features a recent live performance by legendary folk music icon and his deft band at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA (May 21, 2015). -Grateful Web

Full article about the program here: Grateful Web – Guthrie on PBS

To hear Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving in the NY metro area: 90.7 FM WFUV

See our PeaceCouple article on the Genius of Alice’s Restaurant

See Onthewilderside article on Guthrie and social justice, below:

What is it about the music of the Seegers and Guthries that nurtures
social justice 
workers? And, is it enough?
by Kimberly Wilder

[These reflections were pulled and polished from a review I wrote of an Arlo Guthrie concert at Carnegie Hall in 2011.]

There is a definite flavor and group-knowing to the Seeger and Guthrie families when they perform on stage. The two families have both been noted for their contributions to the discourse on social justice and a wish for peace in the world. Though, for a person like me – who likes my propaganda bold and somewhat didactic – I sometimes experience their musically polished, uplifting vibe as a touch hollow. Recently, however, I have come to believe that there is something about their strategy which is more clever, and ultimately lasting, than the music I usually encounter.

When the Seegers and Guthries perform, I cannot deny that what they are speaking of is peace, freedom and liberation. I can feel the social justice worker inside me being nurtured and empowered. Though, I can’t usually point to a specific cause or a call to action in the songs or stage banter.

I believe that some of my sense of dissonance is the disconnect between their identities as full time musicians versus my identity as an activist and part-time poet. I am also starting to see the work of the Guthries and the Seegers as a purposeful, disciplined, well-planned way to create infrastructure.

If they were to say strong, risky political words, if they were to name specific politicians or causes to battle for, they might have difficulty filling concert venues. Or, they might not appeal to so many hundreds of people that would gather together for the annual healing and renewal that happens at Arlo Guthrie’s annual Carnegie Hall concert. So, I have been thinking of them lately as a kind of less-complicated, more benevolent Rick Blaine, making sure that Casablanca is thriving, right under the nose of the oppressor, so that it may continue on through the war and controversy.

Or, perhaps the life’s work of the Seegers and Guthries are like old slave chants. The songs have hidden messages about which path to take North, with the power lying in the fact that they are too oblique for the oppressors to understand and squash them. Perhaps, Pete Seeger’s repertoire is the Drinking Gourd.

As I researched the background of Pete Seeger and The Weavers, I start to believe more and more that my “cleverly concealed message theory” is correct. I learned about the Peekskill concert in 1949, where The Weavers and other musicians were attacked by right wingers. And, then there were the years of the Weavers being Blacklisted. Sometimes, being bold and out front had led to problems and censorship. Alternately, with a focus on culture and beautiful music, the Seegers and Guthries gather thousands of like-minded souls to regroup, reflect, and nourish their souls.

At a 2011 Arlo Guthrie Carnegie Hall concert, I had hoped for a direct message about the murder of immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Long Island in 2008. The trial and tragedy was still a fresh discussion in the Long Island activist community. I knew that Tao Rodriguez [Seeger] had roots in Puerto Rico and Nicaragua, and that he might know the story. So, I thought Tao might speak directly to the issue. Though, all evening, even when they sang Gauntanamera and Deportee, the performers did not name Marcelo Lucero.

But still, as I heard the beautiful music and words of Deportee, I named Marcelo Lucero, far away in my red velvet box, spelling his name over and over again in sign language as the music washed over the audience. And, I wondered if other people were mumbling Marcelo Lucero’s name. And, if concert-goers from other places were thinking of other names.

So, when I go to an Arlo Guthrie concert, or listen to a Pete Seeger song, I think about what messages might be said in words, and what messages will be left to resonate in hints and harmony. And, I try to remember that it is okay for me to be nourished by pretty music for just one night. And, that the respite might give me strength for the next day’s struggle.

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