17 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Dave Van Ronk ranged freely between the worlds of folk, jazz, blues, pop, and theater music. The Mayor of MacDougal Street—released in conjunction with Van Ronk’s 2005 posthumous memoir of the same title—draws upon recordings made between 1957 and 1969, arguably his most influential period as an artist. These (mostly) previously unreleased tracks trace the singer’s development from a jazz-influenced blues shouter into a nuanced interpreter of songwriters as different as Joni Mitchell (“Both Sides Now”) and Kurt Weill (“As You Make Your Bed"). Van Ronk’s ragtime-shaded guitar work is showcased on “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” while “The Butcher Boy” and “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” showcase his compelling ability to deliver a ballad a cappella. His comedic gifts are evident in his droll rendition of “Shaving Cream” and a spot-on impersonation of W.C. Fields. What comes through most is Van Ronk’s impeccable blend of studied technique and raw, primal emotion, heard in tracks as different as “Willie the Weeper” and “Romping Through the Swamp” (the latter recorded with his rollicking rock combo The Hudson Dusters).

EDITORS’ NOTES

Dave Van Ronk ranged freely between the worlds of folk, jazz, blues, pop, and theater music. The Mayor of MacDougal Street—released in conjunction with Van Ronk’s 2005 posthumous memoir of the same title—draws upon recordings made between 1957 and 1969, arguably his most influential period as an artist. These (mostly) previously unreleased tracks trace the singer’s development from a jazz-influenced blues shouter into a nuanced interpreter of songwriters as different as Joni Mitchell (“Both Sides Now”) and Kurt Weill (“As You Make Your Bed"). Van Ronk’s ragtime-shaded guitar work is showcased on “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” while “The Butcher Boy” and “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” showcase his compelling ability to deliver a ballad a cappella. His comedic gifts are evident in his droll rendition of “Shaving Cream” and a spot-on impersonation of W.C. Fields. What comes through most is Van Ronk’s impeccable blend of studied technique and raw, primal emotion, heard in tracks as different as “Willie the Weeper” and “Romping Through the Swamp” (the latter recorded with his rollicking rock combo The Hudson Dusters).

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