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Didn't really know where to post this, wanted to reach as many nation members as possible. I just posted this on Arlo.net and thought you all might enjoy it. Hopefully, there are some of you who are old enough to know who Arlo Guthrie is and enjoy his music and story telling.
I’d like to take a moment to tell you all about an incredible night my wife Marilyn and I had Friday, just this past Friday, on Friday, February 24, 2012, going to see Arlo Guthrie in concert at the Parker Playhouse in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Now Arlo gave a great performance, favoring a close, intimate audience with some new songs, old favorites and some very old classics that, more than once, brought tears to my eyes. With his stories accompanying the songs with tales of old friends and family, both humorous and poignant, it was possible to feel Woody’s spirit with us up there in the air.
But the best part of the night, I mean the very best part of the whole part of that night happened for me after the concert. You see, in my first post I mentioned that I build cigar-box guitars and hoped I could get a chance, even a small chance, that I could get the chance to ask Arlo, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, to actually sign one of my creations. So with high hopes and great expectations, I brought one of my cigar-box guitars to the Parker Playhouse that very night. Now for those of you who don’t know what a cigar-box guitar is, well, it’s a guitar made from a cigar box. Pretty simple thing, usually has three or four strings, a neck made from a 1 by 2 piece of wood that runs all the way through (sometimes called a neck-through for what should be obvious reasons), and can be tuned in any number of ways, from a ukulele to a banjo or like a regular six-string guitar that was missing a couple of strings. But I didn’t start writing this to talk about guitars.
Came to talk about Arlo.
So there I was at the Parker Playhouse, in the lobby of the Parker Playhouse, before the concert at the Parker Playhouse, mingling around with all sorts of nice and friendly people, I mean the nicest, friendliest people were there and they were all asking me about my cigar-box guitar and I tried as best as I could to tell them how I made it and why I had ventured into bringing such a strange contraption with me to the show. And they were all impressed and shook my hand and told me how much they hoped I would be able to obtain Arlo’s autograph for my unusual cigar-box guitar. But friends, when we went inside the theater and sat down and the concert started, I began to come to the realization that Arlo Guthrie was a very busy man, as he regaled us with stories of his travels past and present around the world and this great country of ours and that he might not appreciate a 61-year-old male groupie pushing a cigar-box guitar into his hands after he had been playing nearly three, I said nearly three hours and probably was wanting to do nothing more than get back to a nice soft bed to rest up for the following day.
So we sat there, enjoying the concert, laughing and crying and tapping on the arms of our seats but with hopes of actually meeting Arlo slowly fading, I had resigned myself to the fact that we would not get a chance to meet a true American icon and national treasure. But we decided to persevere, and after the concert we went outside of the Parker Playhouse, to the front of the Parker Playhouse, where we were told that Arlo might indeed come out of the Parker Playhouse and be willing to sign some autographs.
So we waited.
And we waited.
And we kept on waiting and while we were waiting we finally came to the realization that Arlo was indeed NOT coming out the front door of the Parker Playhouse to sign any autographs.
We were dismayed.
Until Marilyn (remember Marilyn?), my wife Marilyn pulled me aside away from all the other autograph hunters and said, “Come with me, kid.” Well, my being a good and obedient husband, I went with her and she related how she had overheard one of the ushers say that Arlo would actually be coming out of the side door where his bus was parked. So around on the side, by the side of the side door, we stood by the side door.
And it opened.
And Arlo came out, with a plastic drink cup in his hand.
He said, “Hi.”
We said, “Hi.”
Then he reached out and he shook my hand.
And there we were, standing in front of one of the greatest folksingers of all time, a man who is and always will be an American icon and a true national treasure, holding a plastic drink cup. Now I had never met an American icon before, let alone a national treasure or even a famous folksinger and at that moment, I mean at that very precise moment in time, after all the planning I had done and all the rehearsing I did about what I wanted say to this living legend, to tell him how I was inspired by my father to build cigar-box guitars much like his father had inspired him to write and sing folksongs and bring enjoyment to millions of people, I became a babbling idiot and just said, “Uh, could you please sign my guitar?”
And taking my pen from my hand and bending down, Arlo Guthrie signed my cigar-box guitar.
And since my entire brain had at that exact moment left my body and moved on, Arlo moved on, signing autographs on record album covers and 8 x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows on the back of each one explaining what it was for the other fans who had followed us back to the side of the side door. So with tears in our eyes but smiles in our hearts we climbed back into our red VW microbus (cleverly disguised as a black mid-size sedan), and headed off into the sunset. It was only then when we realized that we had indeed met Arlo Guthrie in person, had shook his hand and that he had indeed signed my cigar-box guitar and that we would treasure that cigar-box guitar for all time forward, and probably for several years thereafter.
once ur brains got unscrambled ,, u commenced to "happy dance" Way to go dude !!
What a great story! I could feel the excitement and wonder through your words. It's a shame Arlo never got to hear how you both were inspired by your dads ... or that the Macanudo was your father's favorite cigar and so that particular cigar box guitar was really, really special. I'm glad you posted your story on his site. Maybe he'll read it and feel really good about stopping and taking a moment to make a memory.
You are gonna record "Parker Playhouse Reminiscence and Parking Lot Adoration Confab" fingerstyle on that there very guitar, ain't you?
Nice job, man.
But why does his signature look like "Lubi Quowed?"
LOL! If I ever really learn to play, I sure will. Re: his autograph looking like "Lubi Quowed", are you familiar with "Coming Into Los Angeles"?
tooooooooo cooooolll ive been a fan of the music for years thanks your story brought a tear to my eye great job. i just saw strats reply\ reaction and i agree w him u gotta write the song...
Well written you were indeed taking by his presence. Really cool picture. I have seen him many times here in New England. Alice lives in the west end of Comercial street in Provincetown. She's the same old hippy and loves to talk. The Brock's that he talks about in the Pickle Song, his kids (or brothers kids grew up here in Wellfleet riding their Bultacos on the power lines...Jono still lives on the Cape somewhere and Fletcher lives in Oregon or Washington where he is makes stringed instruments which Arlo has a few.
So there I was, Randolf VT, around Thanksgiving, standing outside the Chandler Theater, holding a canvas bag with a Alice's Restaurant alblum and a copy of his songbook, waiting patiently inside the canvas bag....waiting to be signed. Arlo was nowhere to be found. So I went over to the drive where the two buses were and was greeted by........ very burley bus drivers. I did not get by them.......you know Arlo was inbetween sets and you know he needed to have some time to you know, relax and it was far from me to disturb him.......it wasn't that important so I didn't argue with them. Then I thought maybe I could talk to Abe, his son, and maybe he could get his Dad to sign...... who was I kidding , let the man be. I had stood near him before in my younger days while he talked with others, I'm still good.
Well...........I'm.....sorry I rambled. My wife and I are just big Arlo fans .
I hope he told the Steve Goodman story and also the story about Uncle Ramblin' Jack. Oh yeah and the story on how his wife got arrested at the airport with her stash, love that story.
Sounds like you had a swell time.
Thanks Corbie. Yes, he did tell the stories about Steve, his first trip to California staying with Uncle Jack and about the tin of "vegetable matter" that wound up in Jackie's luggage. It was a great night. I was in Stockbridge about 8 or 9 years ago and stopped by the Trinity Church/Guthrie Center. Went up into the bell tower where the garbage was thrown down from. Got a cool t-shirt with the route of the garbage trail on it and drove around the town. Swung by the pO-leece station and saw where the original Alice's restaurant was, down the alley. It was still a restaurant but it wasn't called Alice's restaurant.
Such a cool story Hal, well done...! (-: