Guthrie celebrates ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ with 50th anniversary tour

MIDDLETOWN – It’s been close to 50 years since legendary folk music icon Arlo Guthrie released one of his most beloved songs, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” Guthrie is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the popular tune by embarking on an international tour that includes a stop in Middletown.

Arlo Guthrie’s 50th Anniversary Tour of Alice’s Restaurant will be at Miami Middletown’s Dave Finkelman Auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for all seats are $38.

The song’s original title, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” commonly referred to as “Alice’s Restaurant,” is an 18-minute musical monologue, which originated from Guthrie’s experience on Thanksgiving Day in 1965. The song offers a commentary on the Vietnam War, and at the same time, it reflects upon the holiday and family.

As the centerpiece for the tour, “Alice’s Restaurant” will be one of the songs fans can expect to hear in its entirety, said Dr. Howard Epstein, director, Miami University Regionals Artist Series.

“With Arlo, he’s played here before, but he only does ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ every 10 years. This tour will include a multi-media show, and he’s performing with a full band. Last time he was here, it was a solo performance. It really seems like it is going to be quite the production, and we are pretty excited about it,” said Epstein.

The longevity of his career also says a lot about Guthrie. He’s been creating music for five decades. In addition to being a singer and a songwriter, he also plays the guitar, piano and harmonica.

“There’s an honesty to his music. Arlo is certainly influenced to some degree by his Dad, Woody Guthrie, and by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott,” Epstein said. “He’s not just a singer/songwriter, he’s a storyteller as well. It’s a big part of the show. For people my age, he’s an iconic performer. I can remember when I was in college in 1967, when the song came out. You would be walking around the dorm, and there would be a sign in the hall that would say, ‘Room 228 Walnut – Alice’s Restaurant at 10:30 p.m. tonight.’ It just meant, ‘Hey, we’re going to play it.’ People would go into a dorm room and listen to the song.”

The success of “Alice’s Restaurant,” also the title of Guthrie’s debut, became a platinum-selling album and was made into a full-length movie that came out in 1969. Guthrie’s career achievements include countless albums, along with numerous live concerts and television appearances. He often sings about social injustice and other political issues. In addition to his musical career, Guthrie has authored three children’s books, and he is also an accomplished photographer.

“We still sing songs that Woody Guthrie either wrote or popularized. Arlo helped make Steve Goodman’s ‘City of New Orleans’ more famous,” Epstein said. “Steve, unfortunately died at a young age, but that’s an example of one song. Good Morning America used to play that as part of their theme song, so they’re both American icons. There’s just no doubt about it.”

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