Arlo Guthrie with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra

March 10 2006

Photos on this page by Dwight Newton. 2006 by University of Kentucky. All rights reserved.

Click on images for larger.

As marketing guy for the UK School of Music, I have an excuse for using a camera in our musical performances. I am, of course, sensitive enough to not use a flash and to turn off the beeper on the camera. I try to shoot only when the music is loud enough to completely cover the sound of the shutter. Also, I try to get the best possible seat and stay there so I don't bother others in the audience with moving around. In the case of last night's concert, I got my seat the first day tickets went on sale, so I was in the front row, nearly dead center. This is not always the best position to get pictures, but I was mostly interested in being sure to get Arlo and the conductor, John Nardolillo. The performance was sold out several days before, so there was to way to second guess this.

It would have been nice to get some longer shots of the 70 piece orchestra. The six basses and all the percussion were in the back and were essentially invisible from my vantage point which was barely above floor level of the stage. So my pictures don't show the real size of the orchestra, but give the illusion that it was a small ensemble. The recoding equipment was predictably in the way. He kept his lyrics on a music stand in case he forgot something, since this was for the CD. He did have a false start in the first song and so they started it over. In a couple of other songs he just stopped on a whim and started telling a story, which was a bit of a challenge for the orchestra.

This is a scan of the program cover, which I did the layout for (not the art, the book layout). The image is Arlo's official tour poster, which I used on 11x17 full color posters, smaller flyers in both color and b&w, and in print ads. They were selling T-shirts at the concert with this image on it for $25 and sold out. It's a fabulous image.

Arlo played mostly his own songs that had been arranged for orchestra by James Burton, a British choral director. The arrangements are lush, musical, and very beautiful, if a tad schmaltzy.

Arlo began his collabortation with UK's John Nardolillo in 1997 when John was a student at the Cleveland Institute and was visiting New York. He snuck into Arlo's concert at Lincoln Center at intermission and was impressed with Arlo's musicianship. He thought how great it would be to put this music on the same stage with Gershwin, Bernstein, etc. After the show he basically barged into Arlo's dressing room and started talking about this idea. For some reason, Arlo didn't throw him out, but actually talked to him about a similar idea he had, but couldn't figure out how to make it happen. Arlo and John have since performed with a number of orchestras including the Boston Pops. It was this relationship that brought Arlo to Lexington. They spent the week recording a CD and Arlo spoke at a few classes and seminars while he was here.

The beginning of the second half he performed Alice's Restaurant, which seemed a bit half-hearted. He did it pretty faithfully to the original version with only a few updated references. He talked about this in the seminars. Everywhere he went he'd be asked to do Alice and he didn't want to do Alice all the time, so he decided to do it a lot just every 10 years so he could get on with his life the rest of the time. I smart solution. It was fun to hear, but I'd just as soon have heard him do more other stuff if he's not going to do anything new with it.

I was interested to discover what a good pianist Arlo is. He played a ragtime piece and several other tunes at the piano, including a stunningly beautiful song by Charlie Chaplin. The last song of the evening was Woody's "This land is your land."

A big surprise of the evening was the presentation by John Nardolillo of a guitar custom handmade by his father (JN, Sr.) which he commissioned on behalf of the UK Orchestra. It has the UK logo inlayed in abalone on the head.