To cap off Caffe Lena’s 50th anniversary celebration, master storyteller, golden troubadour and one of folkdom’s true royalty, Arlo Guthrie headlined the sold-out, 630-seat Arthur Zankel Music Center last Saturday night. Opening for him at the impressive Skidmore College concert venue were the delightful Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group.
Robin and Linda Williams – no strangers to the region for the many concerts they have performed at various concert halls and, of course, as regulars through the years at Caffé Lena – are also known nationally for their numerous guest spots over several decades on Garrison Keeler’s international NPR radio program “The Prairie Home Companion.”
Guthrie is, of course, the son of modern folk music’s foremost legend-among-legends Woody Guthrie, who along with Pete Seeger defined everything that the modern folk music idiom stands for. Arlo is also known as the author of one of the most compelling and engaging Vietnam-era satires of the last century, “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Robin and Linda stepped out on stage accompanied by Chris Brashear on mandolin or fiddle and Jim Watson on bass. With great big smiles on their faces, they launched a magnificent one-hour set full of four-part harmonies and impeccable musicianship.
Guthrie, on the other hand, had perched himself up on a high chair and proceded to entrance the audience with vivid stories, reminiscences, humoros anecdotes and songs drawn from his over-forty-year-career. Switching between the piano and six and twelve-string acoustic guitar, he made everyone in the room feel as though they were really in the intimate, living-room-like atmosphere of Caffe Lena itself.
The entire evening was touched with an indescribable magic between the performers and audience that cant be duplicated or reinvented. It was just one of those moments. And it was grand!
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Read Glenn Weiser’s review in Metroland