Sarah Lee, being the daughter of Arlo and granddaughter of Woody Guthrie had tough shoes to fill from the start. Some second or third generation musicians can be too easily dismissed without a proper chance. But with Sarah Lee, that isn't the case. It's impossible to dislike her. She plays with a sensitive truth and directness that pulls the listener in, soothes them, and leaves them feeling like they've rediscovered an old friend. Plus, she's breathtakingly beautiful, with warm, glowing eyes and a smile that is contagious. Johnny is the ultra-talented cool guy, expert guitar picker, that never seems bothered by anything, but always understands the truth of the matter and lays it out in eloquent terms. Their talents and virtues are perfect compliments to one another. So ten years later, after meeting them both a few times, I decided to try to capture some of their respective aesthetic qualities and personality traits in an illustration:
|Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, 2011. By Travis Simpkins|
Anyhow, after the two solo albums, they released three albums together- Exploration (2008), Folk Song (2009), and Bright Examples (2011) - all of them wonderful and expertly produced. Johnny also released another solo album, Ex Tempore, in 2007 that showcased his great songwriting skills. They've toured widely and are widely appreciated.
What I admire most about Sarah Lee and Johnny, and all of the Guthries for that matter, is their sense of tradition, their genuine caring for one another. Arlo was supposed to play a show at the Guthrie Center one night, but had fallen and gotten hurt earlier that day, and was unable to perform. I expected them to apologize and send everyone packing. Rather than cancel the show, however, not only Sarah Lee and Johnny, but Arlo's other kids and grand kids as well, stepped up on virtually no notice to play a stellar show in his place. It was delightful and inspiring. My mother and Janet, my fiancee, were there with me that night. I'm glad we were all able to share that experience together.
Read more about Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion here: http://sarahleeandjohnny.com/