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Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion — Wassaic Way (2013)

 Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion — Wassaic Way (2013)

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion — Wassaic Way
♠  "My dad was absolutely thrilled, of course, and would teach me stuff every day when we were on the road together. That was a really cool way to get to know my dad, because I'd never known him that way. And that's another thing that made it easy: my dad was so supportive."
♠  Sarah Lee Guthrie, born in Massachusetts on February 17, 1979
♠  Johnny Irion, born in Columbia, South Carolina on February 3, 1969
Location: Washington, MA
Album release: August 6, 2013
Record Label: Redeye Label/Route 8 Records
Duration:     41:05
01. Chairman Meow     3:19
02. Circle Of Souls     3:35
03. Sleep On It     4:20
04. Not Feeling It     3:49
05. Wassaic Way     3:23
06. Where She Is It's Spring     3:05
07. Probably Gone     4:16
08. 9 Outta 10 Times     4:15
09. Still Dreaming     3:50
10. Hurricane Window     3:08
11. Lowest Ebb     4:05
Editorial Reviews
≡   2013 album from singer/songwriters Sarah Lee Guthrie (daughter of Arlo and granddaughter of Woody) and her husband Johnny Irion. Produced by Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone of Wilco, the album's 11 original songs were recorded at that band's famed Chicago studio, The Loft and feature the duo's most ambitious songwriting, far-reaching arrangements and electrifying performances to date. Wassaic Way marks the latest entry in the ongoing creative relationship between the Guthrie family and Wilco.
Website: http://www.sarahleeandjohnny.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahLeeandJohn
YouTube: www.youtube.com/sarahleeandjohnny
MySpace: https://myspace.com/sarahleeandjohnny
Press: brendan@chartroommedia.com
Agent: jared@danny-rose.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahLeeandJohnny
Facebook SLG: https://www.facebook.com/sarahleeguthrie
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion's new family tradition
by David Hudnall @davidhudnall
≡   Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith — nepotism in the music industry has reached comical heights in recent years. Even the talented ones, like Solange Knowles, are a little hard to root for.
≡   But in the case of Sarah Lee Guthrie —­­ daughter of Arlo, granddaughter of Woody — and Johnny Irion, nepotism isn't quite the word. "Cosmic inevitability" seems more appropriate. The 34-year-old Guthrie didn't pick up a guitar until she was an adult, around which time she met Irion, a songwriter who also comes from an artistically influential family of the Dust Bowl era. (His uncle is author Thomas Steinbeck, and his great-uncle is John Steinbeck.) The two married in 1999 and have been making music together since.
≡   Listen to their gorgeous Americana songs, and the idea that there are high-powered agents pulling music-biz strings for these cultural scions is immediately rendered ridiculous. Bright Examples, from 2011, is a dreamy folk-pop gem, all '70s AM-radio and Laurel Canyon tones. That one was produced by Andy Cabic and Thom Monahan of Vetiver, and featured guest spots from Gary Louris and Mark Olson of the Jayhawks. ≡   The pair's latest, Wassaic Way, was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone. (Not to complicate matters too much, but on Wilco's Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Billy Bragg, the group recorded new music to unreleased Woody Guthrie song lyrics.)
≡   If you're a fan of any of the performers mentioned above, there's a pretty good chance you'll cotton to Guthrie and Irion's music. In advance of their show Saturday at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club, The Pitch dialed up the couple last week at the home they share with their two children in western Massachusetts.
≡   The Pitch: I just recently discovered Bright Examples. It's so great!
≡   Johnny Irion: Thanks! Yeah, I thought the Vetiver guys just did such a wonderful job with it. I met them through Gary [Louris] on his solo tour, and Andy [Cabic] and I hit it off. Vetiver was touring at the time, and they came over and hung at our house. I loved that [Vetiver] Thing of the Past album so much. It really got me excited about recording again. So it just kind of went from there.
≡   You guys just released "Chairman Meow," a song from the upcoming album. It seems a little more upbeat and sunnier than some of the stuff on Bright Examples. Is that generally true for the rest of the album?
≡   JI: I'd say the sunny songs are sunnier, but when it's stormier, it's a little stormier. Jeff was able to really accentuate the ebbs and flows of what we do.
≡   Can you talk a little about the Wilco connection?
≡   JI: Jeff had known of Sarah Lee and I prior but hadn't seen us play. Then we did a show in Three Oaks, Michigan, opening for [Sansone's band] the Autumn Defense. And Jeff was there. Luckily I didn't know he was there. I've thought of that several times, actually, how glad I am that I didn't know he was there. After our set, he came by and said he loved it. Then he asked us to play [the Wilco-curated festival] Solid Sound two years ago.
≡   How much influence did Tweedy and Sansone have on the way Wassaic Way turned out?
≡   JI: I mean, a lot. We had definite ideas about what we wanted to do, but there were also about two and a half or three records there to make, and it was kind of a matter of which record to make from them. So we brought in all these songs, and he [Jeff] and Patrick picked the tunes. So yeah, they were really instrumental in the process. Some songs we were surprised they picked. Others we were relieved because we were hoping they'd make the cut. With the sound — you know, with [2001 Wilco album] Yankee [Hotel Foxtrot] — Jeff kind of dissembled the Americana senses he's always had, and we were hoping he could bring a little of that to this record. So there's more drum machines, big swells, these kinds of soundscapes. We wanted an Americana record, but we didn't want every song to sound like Harvest or something. I think we can do that on our own.
≡   You've both made albums on your own. Now it seems like you're committed to working together. What do you think working with the other brings to it?
≡   Sarah Lee Guthrie: Johnny had made several records before I met him. He had a lot of experience, whereas I didn't. He knew a lot about making records. I just made one solo record, stopped there. I decided it probably came too soon for me, and I never really enjoyed it. Johnny just has these songs I love; it's what I fell in love with back in 1997. So he's always been the main contributor and songwriter of our group. ≡   He's always said he wants to be able to sit in the same song circle as guys like Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Jeff Tweedy, and he works really hard at that. What I think I bring is a sense of simplicity. I tend to try to stay big-picture with Johnny's songs. I think I have more to lend there. I think because of the way I've grown up, knowing the insides and outsides of music in general, it's given me a really good sense of what's good and what could be better. I tend to trust that.
≡   Do you ever feel like your relationship with music is almost, I don't know, mystical or something, because of the musical tradition in your family?
≡   SLG: I don't think it's a mistake that I'm here doing what I'm doing. I think there's a reason why I play music and why I fell in love with a songwriter. I mean, gosh, I hope it's for something!
≡   I'll give you an example that makes me think that this record was — that fate had a hand in it. The third day we were at the Wilco studio, there was a package delivered to Jeff, and it was Mermaid Avenue 3, which had just come out and which I didn't even know existed. And Jeff hands it to me, and I'm looking through it, looking at pictures of my family that I've never even seen. My aunt Kathy, who died when she was 4 in a horrible fire. I'd never even seen a picture of her, and I'm reading the liner notes, and it says it's her.
≡   And there's Woody articles on the wall of their loft. And, you know, Jeff has written all these songs where he put music to my grandfather's lyrics. So days like that make you think it's about more than just you. I'm not just me, I'm a part of the Guthrie family. And I think we kind of think of Jeff in some way as part of our family, as part of the Guthrie family. And I try to carry on and honor it and embrace it and treat it as part of my responsibility. It's this awesome connection that brings me to music and people who make great music.
≡   :: Saturday, June 8, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club.
Fortaken: http://www.pitch.com/
Johnny Irion and Sarah Lee Guthrie perform Friday at the Swedish American Hall, with Alexi Murdoch, Bart Davenport and Silje Nes.
Photo credit: Jesse P. Cutler, JP Cutler Media
Sarah Lee Guthrie and family sing for kids
By Tom Keyser, Hearst Newspapers
≡   Published 4:00 am, Friday, November 13, 2009
≡   Sarah Lee Guthrie says "bring the kids." A lot of people who come to see Arlo, her father, don't think that way. But for this tour, Sarah says, think kids.
≡   "It's really a family show, and it's really fun," she says. "We have ages 2 to 62 on stage. We're certainly encouraging more families to play music. So I hope that people might be inspired to bring their kids."
≡   Sarah, 30 (2009), along with her husband, Johnny Irion, their two daughters and other Guthries and friends, recently recorded a children's album, "Go Waggaloo." It was released Oct. 27 by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. And the group has begin a nationwide "Guthrie Family Rides Again" tour which hits the Bay Area in April. Sarah Lee took some time out from her schedule to talk to the Albany Times Union.
≡   Q: How'd the album come about?
≡   A: We thought about doing a children's record for a long time, since Olivia was born, and we started making up songs with and for her. She's now 7 years old. So we had racked up all these songs for her.
≡   And then we had Sophia two years ago. So a lot of the songs that we sang to Olivia when she was younger, you know, the song you got to sing to them to get their shoes on, and inspire them to get into the bathtub or brush their teeth and that kind of stuff, were relevant again. So we were remembering some of those.
≡   A lot of different things came together all at once.
≡   And Smithsonian Folkways gave us a call. John Smith, from Smithsonian, had been talking to Johnny a bit. And he called us up and asked if we would consider making a kind of kids' record, a family record, that wouldn't make anybody want to jump out of a minivan.
≡   Q: How did you select the songs?
≡   A: A lot of them were songs that were choruses, and it wasn't until we decided to make the record that we went back and actually wrote the songs. ...
≡   Some of the songs were actually written by my grandfather (Woody Guthrie). ... Smithsonian Folkways handed me a folder of what they had in their archives of Woody Guthrie children's songs that had never been recorded. We didn't know how the tune was supposed to go to them, you know. And so I got the opportunity to co-write with my grandfather, in a way, and put some melodies to some lyrics that he wrote back in about 1947.
≡   Q: Do you play any of them on this tour?
≡   A: We're having a great time with "Show and Tell." The kids are taking verses, and we're making up verses every night. It's a blast. We do about three of the songs on the tour and have been kind of changing them out, trying to figure out which ones are going to work best.
≡   Q: For the folks coming to the show, what can they expect?
≡   A: Well, there's a whole lot of us Guthries. ... Everybody gets a spotlight to do what they do. It's really a collage of us doing our own songs but also paying tribute to our grandfather, who was kind of the reason why we're all here and doing this, and why so many people do this.
≡   Q: What's it been like growing up as Arlo Guthrie's daughter?
≡   A: Well, I don't know, I mean I'm kind of the daughter of a hippie, a traveling hippie. It's not like he came home and sang songs around the campfire with us or anything like that. It was more normal than that.
≡   We're from a small town in western Massachusetts. And we all went to school like regular people until I was 12 years old, and I went off to boarding school on an ashram in Florida with a guru and the whole thing. I think that's kind of funny. Most people go to their grandparents for the summer. My hippie parents sent us to an ashram.
Fortaken: http://www.sfgate.com/
Year / Title / Artist / Label
2013 Wassaic Way Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion   Rte. 8
2011 Bright Examples Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion   Ninth Street Opus
2009 Go Waggaloo Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family   Smithsonian Folkways
2009 Folksong [DVD and CD] Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion   Rte. 8
2007 Ex Tempore Johnny Irion   Rte.8/RCAM
2005 Exploration Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion   Rte. 8
2004 Entirely Live [EP] Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion   Rte. 8
2002 Sarah Lee Guthrie Sarah Lee Guthrie   Rising Son Records
2001 Unity Lodge Johnny Irion   Yep Roc Records
1994 Weave Johnny Irion / Queen Sarah Saturday   Thirsty Ear

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion — Wassaic Way (2013)



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