May 1, 2012
Gone-too-soon folk hero Woody Guthrie turns 100 this year and his politically-radiant songwriting is still influential. In collaboration with the Grammy Museum and the Woody Guthrie Foundation, there will be a Centennial Celebration on Saturday at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas featuring Guthrie's granddaughter Sarah Lee (60s icon Arlo is her father) and her husband/bandmate Johnny Irion. On Sunday, the pair will travel down to Big Sur for a performance at Hipnic IV (see more on both events in the Weekly this Thursday).
When asked whether she ever feels pressure as the offspring of a couple of musical icons, Guthrie responds, “I rarely think about that. But there are moments when I feel the world on my shoulders, and there are other moments when that legacy makes me work even harder to be my best.”
The 33-year-old has been earning street cred on her own as a musician and been gaining a large fanbase that includes everyone from Wilco's Jeff Tweedy (producing their forthcoming album) to Andy Cabic of Vetiver, who co-produced their most recent LP Bright Examples. “We’re big fans of Vetiver and met those guys a few times over the years, so Johnny got this idea to work with them and it was pretty natural,” Guthrie says.
Compared to their previous work, Guthrie describes Bright Examples—recorded live at Dreamland Studios near Woodstock, N.Y. with a plethora of guest musicians including guitarist Neal Casal—as “more atmospheric or psychedelic, sort of dreamy but colorful.” “There were 11 people on the floor when we recorded, and it was really beautiful because there were all these delicate spaces and no one wanted to overplay, they just wanted to make it beautiful,” she says. “There are some really magical moments on the album, and you feel the interplay between the musicians.”
The opening track, “Ahead of Myself,” is a spacey soundscape fueled by the tight rhythmic bond of high-hat taps and a jazzy bass line. About midway through, the tune erupts into a dream-pop odyssey reminiscent of Beach House, only more explosive.