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Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: WXPN's April 2005 Artist To Watch

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Authentic. Timeless. Harmonious. Exhilarating. Any or all of these adjectives could describe the folk-rock sound created by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion.

The musical richness and psychological depth of their initial collaboration, the fittingly titled Exploration, is irrefutable proof that the disarming granddaughter of Woody/daughter of Arlo (Sarah) and the prodigious South Carolinian (Johnny) quite naturally bring out the best in each other.

The material - 11 originals plus a previously unrecorded Pete Seeger song - was produced by The Jayhawk's Gary Louris and ranges from the stone country of "Swing of Things" and the high-lonesome folk of "In Lieu of Flowers" to the Burritos-style foot-stomper "Gotta Prove" and the rocking, biting social commentary of "Gervais."

At once timely and timeless, the album marks the intertwined coming of age of two vital and distinctive artists. The funny thing is, when you hear them for the first time, you'll probably feel like they've always been there, singing in your ear. Think of Exploration as an introduction to your newest old friends.

10 Questions for Sarah Lee & Johnny

By Dan Reed

I read you guys moved a few years back from LA to Johnny's hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. How much do you think your physical environment informs how and what kind of songs you write?
The environment affects our music a lot. "They need us there."

Sarah Lee, you were your dad's (Arlo's) road manager for a time. Did you ever have to get angry with or yell at a promoter or a production manager?
No, I never had to get angry with anyone.

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Johnny, what is your favorite (former band) Dillon Fence song?

What's your favorite South Carolina beach?
Lady's Island

I've read so much press on you two that mention names like Johnny Cash and June Carter, Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers, etc. I'm sure you're flattered by the comparisons, but how much of an effect have those artists really had on your songwriting?
They all affected our songwriting immensely.

What's the best live band you've seen in the past 12 months?
Tres Chicas.

Do you guys have a turntable attached to your home stereo system? If so, what's the last record you played on it?
Bob Dylan - New Morning

Was the process of working with Gary Louris (Jayhawks) and Ed Ackerman on the new album as effortless as the results sound?
Yes and No.

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Three of the Exploration tunes are co-writes. Are one of you the "word person" and one of you the "melody person", or is it a combination?
It is definitely a combination.

You're married, and you work together. The obvious question is how much of a strain (if any) does the working relationship put on your marriage?


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