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Van Ronk

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iTunes Review

Though best known for his dexterous guitar work (influenced by Reverend Gary Davis), gruff vocals, and encyclopedic knowledge of country blues, early jazz, and ragtime, Dave Van Ronk wasn't above the occasional unexpected stylistic digression. Van Ronk sees him tackling material far beyond the usual roster of folk and blues standards. During his time on the Village folk circuit, Van Ronk rubbed elbows with nearly all of the era's major folk artists, and on Van Ronk he turns in distinctive interpretations of songs by friends and acquaintances like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and The Holy Modal Rounders’ Peter Stampfel. Van Ronk is right at home handling the manic irreverence of Stampfel compositions like “Random Canyon” and “Fat Old John,” and his glee's palpable as he belts out Stampfel’s surreal lyrics in a hoarse, Bronx-accented roar. His voice is less well-suited to more solemn material like Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” and Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” but he truly excels on “Gaslight Rag,” a sardonic reminiscence of the Village folk scene that is this set’s sole original composition.

Customer Reviews

Teaches us the music

More years ago than I care to remember, a reviewer noted that in a recording of Liszt that Russell Sherman “teaches us” the music. So Van Ronk does on this album; listen to the Brel for an example. I’m so glad this album has been digitized; my vinyl copy is pretty bad.

This is great stuff.


Born: June 30, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and native New Yorker Dave Van Ronk inspired, aided, and promoted the careers of numerous singer/songwriters who came up in the blues tradition. Most notable of the many musicians he helped over the years was Bob Dylan, whom Van Ronk got to know shortly after Dylan moved to New York in 1961 to pursue a life as a folk/blues singer. Van Ronk's recorded output was healthy, but he was never as prolific a songwriter as some of his friends from that era, like Dylan or Tom...
Full Bio
Van Ronk, Dave Van Ronk
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  • $5.99
  • Genres: Singer/Songwriter, Music
  • Released: 1969

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