Arlo Guthrie is still recounting the events of Thanksgiving 1965 some five decades later. The incident, in which Guthrie was arrested for littering and later judged unfit for the draft because of his "criminal background," was the inspiration for his opus "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" from the album "Alice's Restaurant."
Guthrie will be again revisiting the past when he brings the Alice's Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour to the IP Casino Resort on Saturday.
The Biloxi stop is a first for Guthrie.
"I have many wonderful memories of playing gigs in New Orleans, of course," he said in an email interview with the Sun Herald. "But, I don't think I've ever played in Biloxi. After over 50 years of living on the road it's hard to find a town I haven't played in, so I'm very excited to play in Biloxi for the first time."
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The "Alice" tour marks the first time in years Guthrie has paid homage to the 1967 album that solidified him as one of the celebrities of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.
Guthrie said he is surprised at the album's longevity.
"I was surprised it got to be popular after just one year of having written it. Fifty years later, it's just crazy," he said. "'Alice's Restaurant' (1967) wasn't really a very good album, especially by today's standards. I was just a kid, and not a very good performer. We're doing more than a few songs from that original recording on this tour and they are all so much better these days."
And one of the songs he is performing is the 18-minute-long ballad that made him famous.
"I'm actually having a great time on this anniversary tour," he said. "The show is very much out of the ordinary for me with all the lighting, video and archival photos. Normally we wouldn't do a big show like this, but for the anniversary we decided to celebrate big-time. I'm loving it."
Guthrie is the son of American folk singer and activist Woody Guthrie, whose song "This Land Is Your Land" is a staple in the proverbial great American song book.
Earlier this year, some unpublished Woody Guthrie lyrics came to light in which the activist lambasted a former landlord, who he claimed was a racist.
The landlord, known as "old man Trump" in the lyrics, was Fred Trump, father of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
"Maybe the biggest difference between my father and I is that I was able to live a little longer than he did and was able to learn from my experience in ways he could not," Arlo Guthrie said. "He was hospitalized when he was only 40 years old and passed away at 55 in 1967. Previous to me being 40, I had written all kinds of songs that attacked people I didn't like for all the right reasons. But as I aged I became less judgmental of individuals and began instead writing about the things I liked or didn't like, and stopped writing about the people themselves. My father didn't have the luxury of living long enough to make that kind of change, regardless of whether he would or would not have.
"These days, I have no problem speaking out against some Trump policy, but I will not judge the character of Fred Trump or his son, Donald. I'm happy to tell you what I think is right or wrong, but I leave the judgment to a higher authority."
The unpublished lyrics of Woody Guthrie also have been recorded in a two-album collection by Wilco and Billy Bragg.
"The Wilco/Billy Bragg project was initiated by my younger sister, Nora," he said. " I think she did a great job getting these artists together and creating music and songs from my father's lyrics. I'd been doing a little of that for years, finding some scraps of words and adding music to create songs. She took that to a whole new level, and has continued to do so with musicians all over the world."
He said another Woody Guthrie project is slated for a spring release.
"The latest record to come out of this continuing process is a great bluegrass recording by my buddy Del McCoury -- It's called 'Del & Woody.' It'll be available in April this year."