LYNN — Don White has built a national reputation as a folk singer, storyteller and author. His songs are filled with wry humor and heart-tugging poignancy, many exploring the joys and frustrations of being a dad and husband.
A career highpoint will occur on Aug. 3, when the Lynn native and Classical High grad will record his concert at The Guthrie Center in Great Barrington. The show will also be filmed for use in a documentary. “And it’ll be part of my next CD. I thought I’d make one more CD before CDs become obsolete … I might already be too late.”
White jokes, as is his way, but this opportunity to perform and film a show in this beloved Berkshires building means a great deal to him.
“In my personal journey, this is a milestone to be able to record here,” said White. “It means a lot to me.”
In the 1990s, singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie bought the dilapidated church that was in his movie “Alice’s Restaurant,” spending big money along the way, replacing the roof and renovating the interior. Today, in addition to being a concert venue, it is used as a community center/spiritual center where meals are provided to those in need and neighbors help neighbors. The walls are adorned with hand-written lyrics by Arlo’s dad Woody, as well as posters and historical documents from the lives of Woody and Arlo.
White has played The Guthrie Center before, about six times, either on a co-bill with Christine Lavin or as headliner. Arlo came to one of White’s shows and liked it. “Once, I opened for him,” added White. “He said to me, ‘I was going to steal some of your stuff, but I’m old and can’t remember any of it.’ “
White said both Woody and Arlo Guthrie were inspirations when he started writing songs and performing at local coffeehouses and hosting his musical “extravaganzas” at Post 6 and other Lynn halls.
“Back in the day, I liked Bob Dylan. And Dylan said he liked Woody. So, I checked out Woody. I learned to play Woody’s ‘Pastures of Plenty.'” Eventually, the trail led to old-time blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee.
“They were still performing, so I went to see them at Passim in Cambridge and Sandy’s Jazz Revival in Beverly. This was 1973 and I was 16 years old. I remember helping them move their equipment in and out of the clubs.”
The second half of 2019 promises to be busy for White.
On July 24, he will be featured performer at the “Speak Up Spoken Word” open mic at Walnut Street Cafe, where he has mentored many artists some 40 years his junior. He returns there on Aug. 11 to host the Sunday night music open mic that he started eight years ago and that’s still going strong.
On Sept. 1, he’ll play music and share stories at the Sober in the Sun Festival in Rutland. He’ll do a solo set and then close the weekend joining The Loomers onstage.
Sept. 5-7, he’s at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Utah. On Sept. 20, he will tell stories at the Beaver Tales festival in Pennsylvania.
Then there’s a TEDx performance in Michigan in October, and he’s also working on a book, his second, for release in the spring.
And, of course, there’s the new CD from The Guthrie Center show. White expects it will be out this fall, and will make “a perfect holiday gift.”